Haa Summer Festival, Bhutan

Forging regional cooperation through yak festivals and yak germplasm exchange in the Kangchenjunga transboundary landscape

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Haa, located in western Bhutan, is an important pilot site of the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) in Bhutan, where the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and KLCDI Bhutan partners have chosen yak ecotourism as a priority intervention area. Considering the importance of yak for highland communities, the Royal Government of Bhutan is organizing the Haa Summer Festival with the objective of prompting people-to-people contact.

The Yak Festival organized in Panchthar of KLCDI Nepal in April 2018 brought more than 1,000 people from Nepal and India together in Sandakphu. The event highlighted the significance of yak and the ecosystem services they provide and built cooperation at the local level among stakeholders for yak conservation and development. The Haa Summer Festival in Bhutan will achieve similar results. As a lively, uplifting celebration of traditional living-culture, nomadic lifestyles, traditional Bhutanese cuisine, sports and religious performances, the festival provides an insight into the lives and traditions of Bhutan’s nomadic herders. Visitors can also stay the night at the village home stays supported by KLCDI. Stakeholders have been invited from Bhutan, Nepal, and India. 

The event will foster cross learning among the three participating countries on conservation and development initiatives under KLCDI, provide an interactive meeting platform for KLCDI stakeholders for regional cooperation through yak-ecotourism promotion, and initiate dialogue on establishing a network for a Regional Yak Association to foster exchange of yak germplasm and develop its value chain in the Kangchenjunga transboundary landscape.