THE REGION AND PEOPLE
Gar Relief's current work is focused in and around the rural, impoverished village of Tajuk in Nangchen County. This area is remote and underdeveloped, with rugged mountains, rudimentary roads, and a harsh climate. Except for limited solar panel capacity, the area has no electricity and no running water.
Nangchen County is in the southernmost part of Qinghai Province, Yushu Prefecture. The area is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, vast grasslands, rugged mountains, deep gorges, high altitudes and inhospitable climate. Sharda, the county seat, is about 193 kilometers from Jyekundo—the center of economy, culture and transportation for Yushu Prefecture. In 2010, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake severely damaged communities in Yushu.
With elevations above 12,000 feet (3,600 meters), the region has a harsh climate, with long, cold winters, and short, rainy, and cool to warm summers. Average mean temperature at 12,000 feet is about 38°F or 3°C. The high altitude climate makes it unsuitable for most vegetation. Climate change is currently threatening the region. As temperatures rise and glaciers melt, the grasslands on which the nomadic culture depends to graze their animals is diminishing.
The total population of Nangchen is around 60,500, 98% of whom are ethnic Tibetan. This area is considered one of the poorest in the world. UNICEF estimated the per capita net income in 2008 at $350 USD per year. The Tibetans are farmers and nomads tied to a predominantly subsistence economy. Collecting medicinal plants is an important way to supplement income; in particular the Chinese caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis) carries a substantial market price.
About 500 people live in Tajuk, and several hundred more in the surrounding area. Residents are primarily semi-nomadic and subsist on yak herding. During the summer months many locals follow their herds and live in encampments in higher elevations. In winter months, many residents move closer to villages in lower elevations and less harsh conditions to graze their yaks.
Transportation is a challenge. Most residents don't own cars and often travel on foot or horseback. Recently, motorcycles are becoming popular for people who can afford them. Roads in the region are often impassable in the winter because of ice, and difficult to travel in the summer because of mud.
Gar Relief Education
Bendurya Medical Clinic
Archi Elder Care