WFP and UNDP Support First Inclusive Nepali Female Everest Expedition

Feb 14, 2008

imageWFP and UNDP Support First Inclusive Nepali Female Everest Expedition

Kathmandu 14, February, 2008 - (UNWFP/UNDP) Today, the United Nations World Food Programme and the United Nations Development Programme through the support of the European Commission announced their support for the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008 (FIWSE 2008). This expedition of ten Nepali climbers includes women from multiple castes and ethnicities of Nepal ' the first Mt. Everest expedition of its kind.

'When they were younger, several of the expedition members received support from WFP feeding programmes and we are proud that they have grown into strong adults ready to take on one the greatest challenges on earth, to climb Mount Everest,' explained WFP Country Representative Richard Ragan. 'We hope that their efforts will inspire women across Nepal to also pursue their dreams - dreams to become doctors, teachers or even mountaineers,' continued Ragan.

FIWSE 2008 members hope that their efforts will not only open up mountaineering as both a sport and a career for women in Nepal, but will also encourage women, no matter what community they are from, to work together to pursue their goals. As climbers and mountaineers, the FIWSE 2008 team is also very concerned about the effects of global climate change on Nepalese people and their livelihoods, and its impacts on one of Nepal's greatest resources - the Himalayas. They hope to play a significant role in promoting education, empowering women and educating people about the affects of climate change in Nepal after completing the expedition.

'From the UNDP Human Development Report 2008 which focused on climate change, it is clear that actions taken 50 years back are already impacting the climate and affecting the Himalayas and glaciers. We expect this team to bring back updated information of the major changes which have been observed in the past years, from the bottom to the top of the Sagarmatha. We also hope that their observations will provide additional ideas on how to ecologically better manage and preserve this unique tourist and world heritage site. We look forward to the information that this special team of young and dynamic women from all across Nepal will bring back from this expedition,' stated UNDP Country Representative Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through European Commission support have together raised nearly one-quarter of the total cost for the expedition. The women's group, from the First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008, is currently fundraising and hopes to begin their ascent in early Spring.

Technical support for the FIWSE 2008 expedition will be provided by Pemba Dorje Sherpa who holds the Mt. Everest Speed Ascent World Record of 8 hours 10 minutes and is also a former WFP beneficiary, and Da Gombu Sherpa, who has been working in the mountaineering profession for over 30 years.

'Two of the women, Sushmita Maskey and Usha Bista, have already attempted Mt. Everest, with Sushmita falling only 48 meters short of her goal. With the support of organizations like WFP and UNDP, and individuals and organizations from both the international and Nepali community we are very confident in the success of the team, but we still need to raise additional funds to start the expedition,' stated Da Gombu Sherpa,' FIWSE 2008 team leader.

Contact Information

For more information see the FIWSE 2008 team website at

WFP inquiries: WFP Country Representative, Richard Ragan or Communications Officer, Heather Sutliff, ( at 554-2607.
UNDP inquiries: Sangita Khadka Bista, Development Communications Officer, (, 9851081114