Tibet Development and Poverty Alleviation Program

The Challenge

Tibet still lags behind other areas of China in terms of human development. Potential sources of economic growth are limited by harsh conditions, scarce resources and insufficient infrastructure. Meanwhile, the growth that does take place is concentrated on cities and yields little benefit to many ethnic Tibetans, most of whom live in rural areas and lack skills compared to migrant workers from other parts of China. Tibet has one of the most celebrated cultures in the world, but its potential to generate incomes is unfulfilled due to constraints in awareness, planning, and private and public sector capacity. Moreover, the advancing old age of traditional cultural figures, the pressures of modernization and increasing tourism all pose severe challenges to cultural treasures as well as the natural environment.

The Response

This programme works to reduce poverty and protect traditional cultural expressions by leveraging cultural resources to develop livelihoods: specifically, the protection of Old Lhasa, sustainable tourism and trade development. The programme builds capacity, improves planning and raises awareness as well as piloting concrete models for pro-poor development at the community level. While aiming to strengthen the local private sector, it emphasises linkage between sectors and coordination of government management, and help create overall development strategies that are effective and sustainable.


As well as piloting community-based rural tourism models, the program is building vocational training capacities for tourism professionals to strengthen service skills and cultural knowledge in the local industry. The project is helping to protect and reinvigorate the Old City of Lhasa, by instituting a government protection scheme and supporting integrated planning techniques for the city based on qualitative and quantitative references generated from policy research and baseline surveys. Ongoing efforts to map and document the old city’s historic courtyards are preserving the cultural, social and tourism assets of Old Lhasa City. This information is being fed into a database for cultural and commercial content and users alike. This database when completed is expected to strengthen commerce by endowing products with higher cultural content as well as providing an accessible source of knowledge, awareness and interest for the unique Tibetan culture. These combined efforts are working not only to protect the unique cultural identity of Tibet but also revitalise its relevance and provide a sustainable source of employment and poverty reduction.

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
UNDP US$ 1,303,928
TAR US$ 689,320
Netherlands Goverment US$ 588,245              

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