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Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza

A team of 11 young researchers presented their case studies on responsible tourism at GB Boys Degree College, Hunza on 1st September 2018. The objective of the seminar was to sensitize local masses with the dire need to manage tourism and also to initiate discussions for the promotion of responsible tourism.

Haider Buluk

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Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza held in Aliabad

The researchers tried to shed light on the importance of preservation of culture, tradition, heritage and most importantly environment while maintaining the hospitality tradition of Hunza people. The researchers collectively argued that tourism industry should translate into rural development through strategies of pro-poor policies and resisting urbanization.

Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza held in Aliabad

The presentation also included a dialogue between young researchers and the audience. A major research report tracing demographics, perceptions, preferences and behavioral patterns of tourists was shared. It was followed by other case studies on topics like women’s earning pattern, infrastructure, the commodification of local food, waste management, child labor, women’s mobility and presence in public spaces, career choices among youth and loss of locals’ ownership of land. The researchers were open to feedback on their work with due consideration of the study’s limitations.

Asst. Prof. Sher Ali

Asst. Prof. Sher Ali

Principal GB Govt. Boys Degree College Hunza, Asst. Prof. Sher Ali welcomed the team and said, “it is heart-warming to see youth of Hunza contributing their time and efforts for the society and it is very promising to see them investing their energies in research”.

Elucidating the theme of conference Iram Shaista Khan, the team lead, presented the major research and briefed the participants about the dire need of social mobilization, community resilience and policy guidelines for the management of tourism in Hunza. She opened the stage for critical assessment of how irresponsible tourism is effecting Hunza both socially and environmentally.

Iram Shaista Khan

Iram Shaista Khan

She said that out of the total, 97% of tourists use private transportation and only 2.1% of visitors are using public transportation to come to Hunza. This statistic is alarming, with respect to carbon emissions and the urgent threats posed due to vulnerabilities of the region. Her research provided significant findings which can be used in the future to come up with an informed policy for tourism in GB.

Safiullah Baig, the guest speaker, shared his views on how drastically the culture and ecology of Hunza have been affected in the last few decades. He said managing tourism is important because it has become a matter of survival for the poor indigenous people.

Sultan Madad

Sultan Madad

The main findings of the case studies include the increase in unplanned constructions, congestion in Public Spaces, lack of parking areas, restrictions on local female mobility, increase in earning opportunities for women, increased demand for local food leading to modifications, loss of locals’ land ownership due to monopoly business practices of non-locals, possibility of commodification of natural resources, absence of construction by-laws, low capacity of waste management institutions, incineration of huge amounts of plastic, lack of awareness about environmental issues, students leaving school to start tourist enterprises, child labor, increased employment opportunities for youth and seasonal employment.

Haider Ali

Haider Ali

Gari Khan’s study highlighted the issues of waste management. He revealed that out of total waste 82.3% consists of plastic and the only waste processing method is incineration in open areas. “Due to non-local monopoly businesses the locals are getting stripped of their land,” said Haider Ali, further elaborated how this is likely to lead towards privatization of natural resources. Other speakers include Nasira Bano, Bibi Fatima, Humaira Bano, Sadia, Naheed Akhter and Bibi Nelofar.

Sultan Madad, a senior activist of Gilgit-Baltistan, appreciating the hard work of the researchers said that people have to take immediate actions to manage tourism in Hunza by reinforcing the existing village rules and customary laws. He asked for the mobilization of youth to work for the betterment of the society. Tajir Hussian Lecturer, Development Studies appreciated the presenters for spreading awareness and stressed on the importance of grassroots research for the informed policymaking.

Asghar Khan, Manager Hunza Serena Hotel (Baltit Inn) described in detail the concept of Responsible Tourism. He highlighted the importance of maximizing benefits for the local community through the utilization of local material and local human resource.

In conclusion, the audience stressed that every region of GB should benefit from the emerging tourism industry and such kind of research should be conducted, in order to, prepare locals for “Responsible Tourism” management; which should benefit local economy while minimizing risks for society and ecology.

Haider Ali is studying Sociology at F.C. College, Lahore. He is from Hunza Valley and is interested in studying and sharing his views about the affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) appoints its first-ever female CEO

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Mehnaz Parveen, CEO, KADO Hunza
Cover Photo Credits: Jamil Alvi

Karakoram Area Development Organization, better known as its acronym KADO, has appointed Mehnaz Parveen as its first-ever female CEO. The vacant position of Chief Executive Officer at KADO Hunza was announced on 2nd August 2019.

Mehnaz Parveen, the new CEO of KADO Hunza, is a resident of Passu, Gojal. She has been working at Foundation for Arts, Culture & Education (FACE) as a Director and Institute for Preservation of Arts and Culture (IPAC) prior to FACE. She has also been associated with Indus Blues as a Production Designer. Indus Blues is an award-winning Pakistani documentary that focuses on the fading musical instruments in Pakistan.

Mehnaz Parveen holds a degree in journalism from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. She also studied documentary filmmaking from Madison Area Technical College, Watertown, Wisconsin, USA.

Mehnaz Parveen with Jawad Sharif, director of Indus Blues, and hosts of GEO New’s morning show GEO Pakistan. Photo: Jawad Sharif (Facebook).

She has been in a leading position for Music Mela events in Hunza and Islamabad. Music Mela is an event organized by the Foundation for Arts, Culture & Education (FACE) in collaborations with partner organizations and brands.

Mehaz Parveen is also the co-founder of Seabuckthorn Hunza restaurant which is based in Islamabad’s sector F8. The restaurant serves Hunza Traditional Foods.

The new CEO brings on table years of experience working with indigenous communities from Kalash to Tharparkar. Mehnaz Parveen, during her time at FACE, has worked tirelessly for improving the livelihoods of these indigenous communities and for the promotion of culture and folk music of these areas.

Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) is an indigenous initiative aimed at to improve the socio-economic conditions of people in Gilgit-Baltistan.”

www.kado.org.pk

KADO has been working actively since the mid-90s for the promotion of culture, entrepreneurship and giving training to differently-abled and young people across Gilgit-Baltistan and even Chitral.

With a headquarter based in Aliabad, Hunza, KADO has spent over a billion Pakistani Rupees, mostly grant and aid money, during the past two decades. KADO is currently operating projects like the Gems and Jewellery Development Centre, Karakoram Handicraft Development Project, Hunza Arts and Cultural Forum, Hunza Environmental Committee, Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), Rehabilitation Center and HiMaT ILDP.

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Aga Khan Agency for Habitat Raises Awareness on National School Safety Day in Pakistan

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Photo: AKAH

To protect school children from natural disasters and other insecurities, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) convened government education departments, academia, district disaster management authorities and the media in Gilgit-Baltistan, Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab.

Mr. Hafiz Noorullah, Education Development Officer, Chitral, said on a radio talk show:

“A lack of awareness and knowledge makes the disaster happen. So there is a need to have more and more information sharing through different media platforms and involvement of young people in interactive discussions to sensitize them on the topics of safety and security.”

Mr. Nawab Ali Khan, Chief Executive Officer, AKAH Pakistan said:

“In the 2005 earthquake, Pakistan lost around 20,000 children due to vulnerable structures and lack of awareness and preparedness, which cannot be repeated. We need our schools to be resilient and better prepared
for similar situations. We are thankful to our public and private-sector partners for joining hands with us to achieve this objective.”

For the last 20 years, AKAH has been designing and implementing programmes on Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation in some of Pakistan’s most vulnerable areas. More than 1,000 schools in disaster-prone areas have benefitted from the development of hazard and risk maps, school safety plans, provision of school safety kits, and awareness raising and capacity building of individuals.

School-level awareness raising sessions have been part of the work of the Aga Khan Agency since the Islamabad Conference on School Safety held in 2008. AKAH’s School Safety Programme will contribute towards the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s one million safe schools and hospitals global campaign, and contribute towards the achievement of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) and the practical implementation of the Pakistan School Safety Framework.

For further information, please contact:
[email protected]

NOTES:
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), which merges the capabilities of Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, and the Aga Khan Development Network’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative focuses on preparing for both sudden and slow-onset disasters. AKAH works to ensure that people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters; that residents who do live in high- risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response; and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunity and a
better quality of life. Initially, priority areas of AKAH will include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and India.

Read more about the agency at: http://www.akdn.org/our-agencies/aga-khan-agency-habitat

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