Academy for Democracy


    Indigenous Practices and Patterns Catalog

    Audio Visual Cultures assignment led participants to identify cultural practices and Built Environment workshop led to documentation of architectural patterns through the field research conducted in Gulmit, Ghulkin and Hussaini. The extensive list contains the products used and made, craft of the area, building techniques, practices, folklore, knowledge and usage of herbs etc. While all participants carried out research, special team for Practices compilation included Faryal Arif, Batool Ali, Fatiha Hamid and Zainab Nasir. Architecture Patterns were compiled by Zeeshan Ghani, Khadija Sial, Mazhar Hassan and Faryal Ali.


    CPEC; A closer look

    Aqsa Khalid

    My project was related to the potential impacts of CPEC on the Gulmit village. The project was intially focused upon the attitudes of people to the change that was coming. This was further linked to the history of development in Gojal in relation to the Aga Khan development Network. Furthermore, I identified the negative impacts of CPEC with close relation to the influx of tourism and the heavy transportation. I also highlighted some positive aspects of CPEC and how its already helping the people living in Gulmit. In conclusion, I had shed some light on the future prospects of this economic corridor and how the common villagers could benefit from it.


    Culinary innovations

    Tahreem Butt

    Food is not only the source of providing nutrients and energy to the body but it is more than a mere tool of survival. Food provides pleasure, comfort and security. Moreover, food is a symbol of religion, social status, culture and traditions which include indigenous practices and hospitality. Food plays a vital role in festivities such as religious celebrations, weddings, special occasions or funerals. Methods of food preparation, storing, serving and eating food has been evolving with the availability of local ingredients such as excessive apricot oil, Bakla, butter, cheese, yogurt and mulberry. Through this exploratory research the shift in kitchen utensils and use of space has been mapped and how these shifts have resulted loss of traditional food.


    Preserving folklores

    Ahsan Ali Khan

    The researcher aims to preserve the heritage of mitigation strategies in case of disasters. It will focus on the intangible heritage (mitigation strategies i.e stories, tales, cultural and religious connotations). The project will document the intangible mitigation strategies in a form of report, and later it can be converted into other mediums i.e illustrations, comics or audio stories etc. This will impact as an addition to the knowledge body and will benefit people from various fields.


    Training manual for embroidery

    Sarah Hashmi

    In Gojal valley one can find traditional embroidery in every household in a shape of a cap, wall hangings, cushions or a picture of an Ibex. It’s their way of art therapy. Women are still using the traditional designs. Tourists buy these embroidered objects as a souvenir. I developed a training manual for these women so they can create their own designs from the objects they use on daily basis. There are some very easy drawing lessons and exercises in the manual. The new designs will attract more tourists.


    Resettlement House

    Danial Khyzer

    Having researched and studied the pattern language of Gojal Valley, Danial’s proposed a house design based on the cultural practices and built patterns on Gojal Valley. The planning and design takes into account the climate and weather conditions of the valley.


    Disaster Games

    Somana Riaz, Mariam Asghar, Sarmad Shafiq,Fatima Hussain, Zahra Hussain

    Information collected for developing Hazard profile of Hussaini Village led the participants to develop Disaster Awareness games for local children. Three games were designed and developed; hopsotch, cards game and board game that will enable children to learn what steps to take in case of a hazard or disaster. These games were appreciated by the local community.


    Hazard Profile of Gojal Valley

    Somana Riaz


    Waste Management

    Hamnah Jillani

    This is an exploratory research with an aim to investigate people’s understanding of waste in traditional and subsistence economy. Moreover, to comprehend how the ecology of villages is being transformed owing to the shift towards market economy and what practices are being adopted to manage waste, which is new for the system? Interviews were conducted with local people to figure out the current practices. This work is an attempt to propose sustainable solutions for the community.


    Empowering Local Women

    Hadiya Amir


    Hazard Profile of Hussaini Village

    | Somana Riaz

    Hussaini is a small village settlement along the banks of Hunza River, about 145 km North of
    Gilgit city and at 45 km from Ali Abad in Central Hunza. The old settlement of this village,
    Hussaini, is built on the slopes along Hunza River while the new settlement is located across the
    river, known as Zarabad. It is bounded by Hunza River as one descends downslope, while the
    village is bounded by Hussaini Glacier on its southern boundary. This glacier has a northern and
    southern snout which had been a constant risk for the nearby settlements especially for the slop
    settlement of Hussaini village. The geology and morphology of the village and unplanned
    settlement of the village makes it vulnerable to the risk of numerous hazards throughout the year.
    Forces of nature actively work on the surrounding mountains and affect daily life and livelihood
    activities of the local communities.
    Hussaini village remains susceptible to the risk of multiple hazards throughout the year. the
    unique combination of forces of nature work continuously on the morphology of this village and
    its built environment. The area experiences numerous hazards that vary in intensity and
    frequency with changing seasons and climatic conditions. The area being part of the Himalayan
    mountain system has a history of active seismicity. The high altitude mountains are vulnerable to
    constant risk of earthquakes, resulting landslides and river blockage as a result of landslide
    debris. Active tectonics of the entire mountain system defines the steep slopes and high rise
    mountains that surround Hussaini village and its vicinity. Apart from earthquakes there are a
    number of frequent and high intensity hazards that remain a potential threat for this remotely
    settled mountain community. In November the area remains vulnerable to the risk of high speed
    winds that pose a threat to community orchids, suspension bridge that connects Hussaini to
    Zarabad and is the only link across the river. These winds are so intense that they had uprooted
    trees and even damaged the suspension bridge that is a hard toil for the community to repair on
    their own in their limited resources and capacity. These catastrophic winds operate at speeds
    ranging from 120-150 km/h and result in severe damage to the infrastructure and built
    environment, causing economic losses for the community. The climate remains harsh during
    winters with temperatures nearly freezing from December to February. Snowfall is frequent in
    the area though its intensity has decreased over the past few decades. The reason for it is

    attributed to changing climatic conditions and increasing influx of automobiles in the area.
    During these months there is a higher risk of snow avalanches in areas adjacent to mountain
    slopes. During winter months harsh weather with high speed winds in November and intense
    snow spells in December and January raises a potential threat of avalanches to the downslope

    During the months of March till May, temperatures increase in the valley. This results in melting
    of winter snow. Though spring is s season of festivity and new growth in the area, it also brings
    with itself certain natural hazards. Among these the most frequently experienced are slope
    failures and landslides. These hazards on one hand causes risk to people and their farmlands but
    also results in blockage of the Karakoram Highways that serves as the lifeline for mountain
    communities. The area is defined by close contours, marking steep slopes and mountains with
    hardly any natural vegetation. The rate of erosion in this terrain remains high which is further
    aggravated by intense climatic conditions. As temperature rises in June the risk of glacial melting
    is at its peak. As a result glacial lakes form in the surrounding glaciers that are at risk of bursting
    in case the inflow of water exceeds lake capacity. Hussaini glacier has been at high risk in the
    area and has resulted in glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) during the past few years. the
    beginning of monsoon rains in the area from July to September, further adds to the problems of
    local communities. With heavy spells of rain rate of glacial melting increases and the community
    settled downslope is issued warning to remain prepared for any potential disaster event.
    Though summers are relatively pleasant as compared to downstream areas, the village remains
    susceptible to higher risk of hazards during this time of the year. Increased temperature results in
    higher rate of glacial melting that brings in increased discharge of water into the rivers. Higher
    river discharge results in frequent flash flooding, debris flow and land erosion causing great
    financial losses for the mountain community and adding to their miseries. Intense summer heat
    also causes high rate of glacial melting which then creates a risk of Glacial lake Outburst Floods
    (GLOFs) in Gojal valley. Hussaini particularly is at higher risk of GLOFs due to its location.
    Husaini has experienced multiple GLOF events in the past few years. surrounded by glaciers and
    a gushing river always threatens the village of any lake burst of flash flood event. Frequent
    exposure to hazards makes it difficult for the community to invest in risk reduction measures due
    to their vulnerability to multiple hazards and their increasing frequency in recent years. Exposure

    to disasters decreases the economic capacity of this community to invest in mitigating future
    disasters rather than waiting for the next event. In 2010 the village was severely affected as a
    result of Atabad landslide dam that completely cut off from and road connectivity remained
    suspended. Most of the orchids and cultivated lands were inundated. Low lying areas remained
    under debris and water of the dam that stretched for about 14 kms before a spill way was
    constructed to lower its level.
    Apart from the natural hazards and the constant struggle of facing these catastrophic events this
    mountain community is facing several anthropogenic challenges that are raising concerns among
    local community. the most rapidly increasing of these risks is excessive unsustainable tourism in
    the area. Tourism brings revenue for the community and create livelihood opportunities but
    uncontrolled and unsustainable influx of tourists in the area is creating the problems of waste
    generation, threat to biodiversity and environment and intervention in local culture.
    Development of a wider and carpeted highway has also increased the number of accidents and
    loss of lives to a greater extent. Social stresses are now more pronounced and easily observed in
    the area which in the past was rare within this well knit community. The out migration of the
    younger generation for better livelihood opportunities is turning the valley into a summer resort
    leaving behind old age inhabitants here. Lack of sufficient opportunities in their native land leave
    them with no option but to move to cities with better livelihood options instead of returning to
    valley. This trend is raising concern among the older population of the valley as they fear that
    their children may turn the valley into a summer house instead of developing a sense of
    ownership for their local culture, traditions and ancestral land.