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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09CHENGDU187 2009-09-10 02:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Chengdu
Cable title:  

TIBET: NGO WORKING TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY IN NW YUNNAN

Tags:   PGOV PHUM ECON SOCI CH 
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1. (SBU) Summary: Visiting USG-funded projects to support
Tibetan livelihood in NW Yunnan run by the Tibet Poverty
Alleviation Fund (TPAF), CG and ConGen staff saw successful
programs that teach engine repair and business skills and
support craftspeople by connecting them with international
markets. Underscoring what we saw, the local Poverty
Alleviation Office director expressed his strong satisfaction
with the TPAF programs, while TPAF's country director told us
the local government hopes to emulate their project to improve
rural welfare through training in health, hygiene, and
nutrition. End Summary.

Training in Tractor Engine Repair and Business Skills


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2. (SBU) Shouting over the din of wrenches clanking against
engine blocks, Shangri-la Poverty Alleviation Office Zhang
Chunshan told CG August 14 that TPAF's tractor engine repair
project was useful for Shangri-la (previously known as
Zhongdian, seat of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in
NW Yunnan), and that he hoped the Prefecture's cooperative
relationship with TPAF would continue. The project, funded by
the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural
Affairs, currently consists of 28 young Tibetan male trainees
from six of Shangri-la County's 11 townships. The trainees are
learning to repair small engines that can be fitted onto
tractors or rigged onto the front of small trucks. Building on
a previous TPAF motorcycle repair project in Lhasa in the
Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), this is TPAF's first project in
Yunnan, TPAF Country Director Tony Gleason told us. The program
offers four-plus months of training in tractor engine repair,
followed by an official test given by the local labor
department. Of the current crew of trainees, 15 will also be
selected for a follow-on project focused on minivan repair, as
demand for minivans is growing with Shangri-la's increased
tourist flow.



3. (SBU) For those trainees who show the greatest potential,
TPAF also offers business training to help establish their new
tractor engine repair businesses. The business training
consists of four phases: how to choose a location for a new
business, market analysis, establishing a business plan, and
follow-up training. TPAF also makes small loans using USAID
funds to some trainees whose plans show good promise, with
establishment of a profitable business requiring a loan of only
8-12,000 RMB (USD 1200-1800). While Han Chinese often try to
move into rural areas to compete in the engine repair business,
they often give up after a Tibetan who has received TPAF
training establishes a business, as the Tibetan is more welcome
by locals, Gleason said. The entire program cost just 320,000
RMB (just under USD 50,000, of which TPAF contributed about 95
percent, with the local Poverty Alleviation Office having
contributed the balance), Gleason said.

Marketing Tibetan Handicrafts, From Rugs to Yak Puppets


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4. (SBU) At TPAF's Dropenling Tibetan handicrafts social
enterprise, located in Shangri-la's old town, Gleason explained
that TPAF had recently established the not-for-profit business
spinoff in Yunnan to provide diversification following a steep
drop in sales after the 2008 unrest in the TAR (though the
Yunnan site may become Dropenling's sole presence, as TPAF
perceives that TAR officials want to shut down the Dropenling
operation in Lhasa). Utilizing hundreds of Tibetan craftspeople
in the TAR who produce traditional Tibetan items ranging from
hand-knotted rugs to fuzzy yak hand-puppets, Dropenling then
markets the items through a variety of channels, including its
storefront presence in Shangri-la, a well-developed web presence
(www.tibetcraft.com), international sales trips to wholesale
purchasers, and most recently through sales relationships
established with museum shops in the United States and Europe.

Improving Rural Health Through Behavior Change


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5. (SBU) TPAF's health program, which used their own "Behavior
Change Communication" model, has been so successful that local
health departments have asked to adopt the program for their own
use, Gleason said in a discussion following the site visits.
This train-the-trainer model, begun in 2005, consists of two
phases. The first, lasting 7-10 days, brings together three
individuals from each participating village, usually including a
village leader, a member of the women's federation, and a doctor

CHENGDU 00000187 002.2 OF 002


or member of the county health bureau to learn about health,
hygiene, and nutrition. Individuals in these specific roles are
chosen because they tend to have more credibility in the
community and make successful trainers. The second phase occurs
three months later, lasting another seven days, during which
time participants discuss lessons learned since the initial
training as well as learn additional information. During
follow-up, TPAF works with participants to implement what they
have learned in ways that fit their particular communities, e.g.
building hygienic greenhouses, or building new latrines, or
other relevant projects. Calculating the number of people that
each trainee has in turned trained, and adding up the number of
people in those households, TPAF estimates that the program so
far has over 90,000 direct beneficiaries.



6. (SBU) Asked about bilingual issues in dealing with primarily
Tibetan beneficiaries, Gleason noted the program's brochures are
currently in Tibetan, as the program started in the TAR. In
Yunnan, however, where few Tibetans can read in their native
language, the brochures are of little use, he said. TPAF (which
has no Han Chinese staff) is having trouble, however,
translating the brochures into Chinese.



7. (SBU) A discussion with Gleason on the situation faced by
International NGOs in the TAR is reported septel.
BROWN