Development and disaster risk reduction: a case study of Bagrot Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
By: Sultan Ahmed, Rehmat Karim, Dr. Najma Najam, Faqeer Muhammad
Key Words: Development, Disaster Risk reduction, GLOF, Gilgit-Baltistan, Bagrot, AKRSP
J. Bio. Env. Sci. 9(5), 96-104, November 2016.
This paper draws from an anthropological study (multi-sited ethnography) of disasters in the Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP), Gilgit-Baltistan with a major focus on perceptions amongst dwellers in the CKNP region about disasters as well as development. The data comes from field work, in-depth interviews and focused group discussions in four valleys including the Bagrot valley near Gilgit. The high mountain communities of the Karakoram have lived in agro-pastoral settings with unique socio-cultural legacy and limited mobility. Dwellers of the valleys have received outside interventions cautiously with a gradual approach and have been able to appropriate the development projects in their contexts with varying degrees of resistance. The dynamics have however changed ensuing the culmination of local kingdoms replaced by government institutions, opening of the Karakoram highway and intervention by Non-Governmental Organizations such as AKRSP. Another dimension of development is the evolution of an institutional mechanism grounded within the valley. The rhetorics about disasters and associated risks are also changing from a predominant notion about disaster as “Act of God” to the concept of mitigation, prevention and preparedness. For the community of Bagrot, the development agenda oscillates between culture, environment and modernity. On one hand Bagrot community is in a bid to regain the ecology of 1970s or before i.e. forests all around with less risks from floods and on the other hand a progressive society of 21st century where the young generation is capable of embracing emerging challenges whilst keeping the cultural values intact.