As anyone who has climbed Kilimanjaro will know, the porters really are the true heroes of the mountain. Working tirelessly to ensure we are well fed, comfortable, and motivated throughout our expeditions, Kilimanjaro’s Porters make our journey to the Roof of Africa that little bit easier, and without them, many of us simply wouldn’t make it.
Sadly, many Kilimanjaro Porters are overworked, underfed, and underpaid by unscrupulous climbing companies who would rather cut costs on porters to offer international travellers cheap climbs, with some receiving just one meal per day and less than $3 USD per day in wages.
In 2003, the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC), a non-profit organisation, set up the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), in a bid to raise public awareness and promote the proper treatment of porters on Kilimanjaro. Since then, things have improved significantly on the mountain, with 99% of porters now receiving 2 or more meals per day, and the average daily salary increasing by 90%, but there’s still a long way to go.
KPAP’s Partner for Responsible Travel Program is designed to recognise those climbing companies who practice ethical treatment of their porters, but at this stage, it is a voluntary program and local climbing companies are not obliged to comply. In addition to helping those companies who want to implement responsible treatment practices, KPAP offers educational classes to empower porters, lends climbing gear to those who do not have it, and teaches first aid skills to those who would like to train as First Aid Instructors – all free of charge.
Sadly, KPAP has fallen on hard times and is now struggling financially to stay afloat. While KPAP partners are donating whatever they can to help, the initiative faces closure as early as the end of this month if they do not raise $10,000 USD to over their ongoing costs.
If you have climbed Kilimanjaro, or plan to do so in the near future, and would like to support the Mountain Porters, you can make an anonymous donation to KPAP via IMEC on the following link: https://kiliporters.org/donate-now/ Every dollar really does help, so please donate what you can, and let’s keep Kilimanjaro’s porters happy, healthy, and fairly treated – they deserve it more than anyone!