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.