Impacts of Attabad Lake on livestock

By Waheed Razzaq


Pakistan has a long history of suffering from such natural disasters, For example, ‘Quetta’s Earthquake in 1935’ the ‘earthquake in coastal areas of Balochistan near Pasni leading to a 42 ft tsunami in 1945’, East Pakistan suffered from one of the most deadliest natural disaster of modern times in 1970 when a ‘tropical Cyclone’ hit the area, district Hunza suffered from an ‘earthquake along with land sliding and rook falls’ in 1974, 1.2 million people in Balochistan were affected by ‘Drought’ during the year 2000, in the year 2005 another ‘earthquake in Azad Kashmir’ region killed around 73,000 people and 3.3 million were left homeless.

In the year 2010 a ‘landslide in Hunza resulted in the expansion of Attabad Lake’ forcing around 20000 people to leave their homes and destroyed livelihood along with the loss of agricultural land and livestock, the affected people are still waiting for rehabilitation and their social and economical problems are increasing day by day.


After 4 January, 2010 due to the land sliding at Attabad 27 km long water lake was formed, which has totally isolated the Gojal region (Tehsil) district Hunza from the rest of the country because of the road at the disaster area were totally being destroyed. The bridge that connects Shishkat to Gulmit (Two main villages) was completely submerged in the water.

The accidental creation of Attabad Lake has created the environment of fear among the people of Gojal (Upper Hunza) and the regions downstream (Lower Hunza) as at first it has destroyed many houses, land, fields, bridges and forest of Ayeenabad and Shishkat and then has started to submerge the fields and houses in Gulmit. ( Kakar, (2012)


Losses in Hunza and Gojal due to Attabad landslide and lake formation.


Houses destroyed by landslide 

Attabad and Sarat




Houses destroyed by inundation 













Further losses 

shops and businesses

school buildings





ca. 80,000

Source: Early Recovery Plan and Framework for Disaster-Affected Areas of Hunza-Gojal, AKRSP 2010.


Livestock in Gilgit Baltistan

Domestication of livestock is one of the earliest achievements of human beings. It made their lives more productive, easy and secure. Since those early days, livestock has served them well. It still does so in Pakistan where it is an integral part of the rural economy contributing significantly to the agriculture and the national GDPs. Pakistan is rich in livestock wealth in terms of numbers of species and breeds as well as their population. Livestock found in Pakistan belong to seven species i.e. buffaloes, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, equine (horses, donkeys and mules) and poultry. Yaks are confined to mountain areas in the north with higher altitude (more than 3000 meters above sea level) where people inhabiting the rugged northern areas keep them for subsistence.

The Northern Areas (Gilgit Baltistan) have a very small proportion (less than 1%) of livestock population of Pakistan. According to Livestock Census of 1996, goats have the largest population (690 thousand) followed by sheep (440 thousand) and cattle (290 thousand). Small ruminants and small sized local cattle are found in larger numbers in districts of Gilgit and Skardu. Buffaloes are not kept in the Northern areas. Only few thousand donkeys and horses and few hundred camels and mules have been reported to be found in these areas. Apart from 15000 yaks not found elsewhere in the country, (Hasnain, H.U & Usmani, R.H 2006 p-26)


Sheep Breeds of Gilgit Baltistan

Three sheep breeds are maintained in the Gilgit Baltistan. These breeds are multi-purpose and have low but acceptable potential for the production of milk, mutton and wool. Kohai ghizer breed is popular for its mutton producing ability. Gojal and Baltistani sheep have good dairy potential and their daily milk yield ranges from 900 to 1500 grams. Wool producing ability of these breeds has not been studied.(Hasnain, H.U & Usmani, R.H 2006, p-41). In Attaabad and Gojal people like Gojali sheep. mostly people keep Gojali sheep but Baltistani sheep is also kept by majority of people.


Goat Breeds of Gilgit Baltistan

Four breeds of Goat have been reported to exist in these areas namely Baltistani, Jarakhail, Kohai-ghizer and Piamiri. These are multipurpose breeds that are used for the purpose of producing hair, milk and mutton. Average daily milk yield in these breeds ranges from 0.8 to 1.5 litres; adult animal weights are in the range of 30 kg (Baltistani) to 52 kg (Jarakhail) with dressing percentage varying from 45 to 55%. Jarakhail breed possesses good potential for mutton production and an adult carcass yields about 22-27 kg of dressed mutton. Hair producing ability of these breeds has not been documented. (Hasnain, H.U & Usmani, R.H 2006, p- 38) in Attaabad people have all four breeds but mostly people like Kohai-ghizer.



People in Attaabad, Sarat, Gulmit gojal subsist on both livestock and agriculture. Potato is the main crop of the valley and livestock are kept by the majority of households. Each household keeps a large number of goat, sheep, cattle and donkeys. Livestock is kept for milk, dung, butter, meat, transport, income etc. Among these animals, goats and sheep play an important role. It contributes to a significant amount of protein in the form of milk and meat to household food resources. Goats also give farmyard manure, leather, Mohair and kept as a means of storing capital for farmers and are sold off for cash when needed. Same sheep and cattle play very important role in the economic condition of the people of Attaabad, Gulmit, etc.

Attaabad Lake has a stronger impact on the socio-economic condition of district Hunza-Nagar. Attabad Lake had destroyed their homes, lands, orchards and specially livestock’s which created financial crisis in Hunza. Their source of livelihood depends on agriculture, trade and livestock. IDP’S of Attaabad Lake were shifted in Altit and Gulmit camps.  there are two hundred families with more than 1200 people including women and children are living in the camps of Altit, Hunza The shelter houses are too small for the people where hardly a small family can live, people had lot of livestock with them after disaster, but when they shifted in to the camps they sold their livestock on a very low prices due to lack of space available for keeping livestock in camps. Livestock is very important economics recourse for IDP’s, because they have lost their fertile land, fruit trees during the landslide. Livestock being the only income generation source was left but due to space problem people they sold their livestock as they faced economic problems increasingly.



Lot of steps are required to solve these issues specially livestock, some important steps are mentioned below through the problems can be removed with the help of the Government and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) are as under.


  1. Government should provide enough land for each household currently in IDP camps so that people keep their livestock easily.
  2. Government should grant long terms loans to the affectees so they can buy livestock again.
  3. Government should allow other NGOs to help the affectees especially in the fields of livestock.
  4. Government should build new veterinary hospital for livestock on temporary bases to provide the basic livestock facilities in the area.



Hasnain, H.U & Usmani, R.H (2006) Livestock of Pakistan, Livestock Foundation Islamabad.

Kakar, Zaheer Khan, Sakhi, Muhammad & Khilji Dr. Bashir Ahmad (2012) SocioEconomic Effects of Attabad Lake: A Case Study of Hunza, Journal of International Academic Research (2012) Vol.12, No.1. 30 April 2012


AKRSP(2010): Early Recovery Plan and Framework for Disaster-Affected Areas of Hunza-Gojal. Gilgit: AKRSP