An observation on the IDP shelters

By Sarmad bin Shafiq

In case of Attabad Lake in Hunza it is of my great interest to ponder in the complex geographical challenges an architect meet and design better solutions. Personally I belong from Kashmir which is somehow similar to the climatic and geographical of Hunza Valley. Both are situated in the northern areas of Pakistan, surrounded by cold and high elevated mountains. It is evident from the facts that making a living in such distant areas of the country is a tough job. Design or more specifically architectural design is a key element to make life simple living by providing very well thought and applicable solutions. Attabad lake which is made naturally in the Hunza Valley near Karimabad made some very critical and unpredictable changes in the region which could cause any severe and disastrous incident anytime if proper and appropriate measures are not taken.
Other than this, the formation of lake made many other social changes. People are forced to leave their homes, and most of their shades were totally destroyed. People who used to lived in these areas fled and now resettlement of them is another issue. Beside resettlement the cultural, social and economical transformation rendered the local life into a chaotic and disturbed situation.

So as an architect I believe that there should be a plan to meet the challenges if the lake shapes in any other form. Future planning and acting upon the plans would eliminate or minimize the risk to further disasters.

I went to Attabad Lake and spend some time there. I started to observe their living style, problems and issues. In short i started to observe their culture and try to find some similar thing in my culture and started to relate myself with them. This is what my philosophy is that i should know the people and relate myself with the people i am going to designing for. I started to observe their problems and issues. After learning about their culture this i listed down the problem and issues they were facing. As per known about this disaster but the people who lived their they could leave their place or land because there were no options to leave their land/houses and go somewhere else. That land or that house in which they were living was their only space, there was no other option for them were they could go. After this disaster happened people starting to move from their to Karimabad, Altit, Baltit, Ganesh and Nagar etc. It was like people in a group went to Karimabad, Altit etc not because that they wanted to shift there. Its because of the local committee. The local committee gave houses and land to these people in different areas. To ever family one shelter has been given. Size of the shelter is 15’x30’ and its made of stainless steel sheet. This material in not suitable for the climatic condition of Hunza and if one family has a five member which is considered as a small family in that area, you cannot accommodate that family in 15’x30’ space shelter.

The roof of the shelter is too low and it is placed in the farms (rented for IDP shelters) of the people due to which they are getting problems in their daily life. The only way of income for the farn owners are their farms. Now after 4 years the original holder of that farm or that land are asking them to leave their farms because the local framers are affected and they could not fulfill their family needs. Like both the people the one which are locals and the one which are been shifted are having the same problems. The people living in the shelters they don’t have the proper electricity and no gas and the wood is very expensive they cant afford to buy it. In this whole scenario the local council is the only committee which is doing some sort of help for that people and they are the only one through which these people get money and resources.

As an architect i decided that we cannot send them to their own land because the lake still exists there and secondly we cannot shift them from this place to any other place. We cannot re-locate them its a very long process and we do not have the authority to do that. So in the end we got to the conculsion that we are improving the place in way that we improve the shelters in which they are living. We set partitions in the shelters to provide the privacy; they can do farming or plantation on the roof of there shelters.

In the summer the shelter are hot inside because there is no space for ventilation, we provided chimneys on the top of the shelter. The kitchen was in the center we shifted toward left top corner. We provided the sleeping area and above that sleeping area there is storage space. On the roof we created a wire farm and we filled it with organic mash. One fire chimney is provided and form that chimney one pipe is underground attached to the floor of shelter in order to keep the shelter warm in extreme cold.

As the Attabad incident is very bad for economy of our country because of our relation with China but our prime concern should be the people of specified area so the one who suffers should get desirable amount of help from his country and peoples.