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Community initiatives for the sustainable development of tourism in Chitral, Northern Pakistan

18 August 2009 5 Comments

By Shams Uddin, Chitral Association for Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT)

Community Tourism in Chitral


Chitral, in the extreme north of Pakistan, is home to 40,000 people, settled in more than 300 small villages boasting great cultural and natural diversity. These villages offer unique opportunities highlighting Indigenous arts, crafts and music, traditional sports, cuisine, and the fascinating local way of life.

The Chitral Association for Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT) has been promoting community-based, culturally-rooted and environmentally-friendly tourism in Chitral for the last one and a half decade. Recently, CAMAT has implemented the UNESCO community tourism project to promote peace through sustainable economic development, engaging a wide array of stakeholders including music and dance troupes, local sport associations, student organizations, and national and regional NGOs.

For ecotourism to thrive in Chitral, innovative approaches are needed to protect and utilize traditional cultures and the environment as tourism products. CAMAT thus works to revive age-old traditions by supporting them with new technologies that help create income-generating activities for the locals while at the same time protecting local heritage.

The traditional cultures of the Chitral region are replete with beautiful music, folk songs and dances, and the time-honored values that reflect friendly hospitality of the peoples. Here are a few examples…

Kalash Villages

The Kalash communities in southern Chitral live in the valleys of Bumborate, Birir and Rumbor. Their cultural and religious traditions are strikingly different from those of the surrounding communities, and have sparked interest among many visitors and researchers. Their annual festivals, featuring traditional dances and devotional songs, are expressions of spiritual inspiration.

The profits from tourism in the Kalash areas have largely “leaked” to outside entrepreneurs that invest in tourism development in these destinations and control most of the tourism-related businesses. It has been CAMAT’s priority, therefore, to encourage visitors to patronize Kalash-owned and operated local businesses in order to retain tourist spending within the community. Another challenge facing the Kalash villages is environmental degradation, such as soil erosion and flooding. Natural attractions are essential to sound tourism development, and to the preservation of the Kalash way of life.

CAMAT - Kalash Women
Kalash Women

Wakhi Villages

The Wakhi community in Broghil lives in northern Chitral, along on the border of Afghanistan in the Wakhan Corridor. They have the dialect called Wakhi, and are known for their traditional coat prepared from raw goat skin skillfully stitched together. The Wakhi economy mainly consists of livestock trade. Yak (the long-haired wild ox of the mountains of Central Asia), for instance, is sold in the summer, to be stored as food for the six long months of winter, when the villages are cut off from the rest of the world by deep snow.

Yak Polo is the traditional sport of the Wakhi community, which is played during the Broghil annual festival in July. The women in the Wakhi community are skilled artisans producing a variety of handicrafts ranging from colorful hand-knitted sweaters and gloves to embroidered caps. They also prepare special woolen clothing to keep warm in the harshest of winters.

CAMAT - Yak Polo
Yak Polo

Khow Villages

The Khow people are settled in different valleys and side valleys, and form the majority in the Chitral region. Their cultural traditions are characteristically non-violent and moderate, without any custom of displaying arms. The Khow community also has large and small festivals throughout the seasons attracting participants from both within and outside the local areas.

Although the local folk singers and folk dancers revive the forgotten musical heritage of the Khow people, under the modern governance in Pakistan, the efforts to preserve the Khow cultural traditions have largely been neglected. CAMAT and our partners help facilitate the revitalization of traditional music and sports of the Khow villages in order to promote a peace atmosphere where modern day tourism can thrive alongside Indigenous cultures.

CAMAT - Mountain View from Valley
Mountain View from a Chitral Valley

Tourism can help protect the natural environment and traditional cultures. For the Chitral communities, tourism can be an effective tool for sustainable economic development that reduces pressure on natural resources by diversifying income earning opportunities and creating employment beyond farm-based jobs. Tourism also plays central role in transferring skills and know-how’s to the host communities.

In recent years, tourism development in Chitral has mostly halted due to various security threats discouraging travelers from visiting Pakistan. However, CAMAT and other local organizations’ efforts to promote sustainable community tourism have not slowed, determined to strengthen tourism not only as a vital source of much-needed income-generating activities, but also as an effective means to promote tolerance, peace, and cultural understanding.

>> For more information, contact Shams Uddin, Manager, CAMAT, Tel: +92 943 413540, Email: camatchitral@yahoo.com

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  • Your Travel Choice (author) said:

    Please see this ECOCLUB interview article – SHAMS UDDIN: “The people of Chitral believe in cultural diversity, peace and friendliness” – to learn more about CAMAT: http://www.ecoclub.com/news/096/interview2.html

  • atif said:

    Chitral is such a nice place for tour and its very beautiful all beauty is natural and you provide such a nice informative things about chitral.

  • The Impacts of Global Warming on the Kalash Communities | Your Travel Choice Blog said:

    [...] 18, 2009 – “Community initiatives for the sustainable development of tourism in Chitral, Northern Pakistan” by Shams [...]

  • Climate Vigil Rally in Chitral, Pakistan | Your Travel Choice Blog said:

    [...] August 18, 2009 – “Community initiatives for the sustainable development of tourism in Chitral, Northern Pakistan” [...]

  • s Nazar said:

    Institute of Women Development Chitral (IWDC)

    Background: There is extreme need to generate activities to involve women in income generating projects and activities. It is also pertinent to educate them and create awareness programs among them, so that they would be valuable assets for the society. Economic development and Change is the catalyst and followed by other constructive changes in the society and the community. It is also a challenging task to empower women and give them the right and status as they are the equal partners of the society and to prepare them to meet the current Civilization, Economic and Social challenges of the area. Economy determines over all cultural, social, education and political development of the community. Realizing these issues IWDC has been developed as pro-active Civil Society Women Organization working for economic and social empowerment of women through capacity building in market oriented local crafts and skills. Although education and literacy rate in case of women community increasing in district Chitral but their participation in income generating activities is still negligible. Education system has certain flaws and lack holistic development of individual here in Chitral that is why all educated girls looks for jobs in traditional departments. Due to limitation of vacancies and glut of un-skilled working class unemployment results and gives impetus to financial dependency among women community in this area. IWDC intervene in those areas and activities which directly result improvement in women living condition, economic empowerment for women and developing entrepreneurship capability among women community especially educated girls. According to market demand and interest of the target group courses are offered in IWDC for capacity building of women in the area. 16 varieties of short term, medium term and long term courses are offered to the candidates. Disadvantaged, deprived and poorest of the poor class are accessed to benefit them.
    IWDC Capacity Enhancement Project: IWDC is established an organization having sound infrastructure for imparting the said training to women/girls especially educated girls. Since establishment of IWDC a large numbers of women and educated girls, illiterate and poorest of the poor got training from the institute in various disciplines, and now they are earning handsome income and economically self-sufficient which is core aim of the organization. IWDC innovative approach of inducting women community in productive and income generating activities and best practices, has motivated large number of women and educated girls to avail of the capacity building opportunity at their door step. Hence large number of girls enrolled in the centre for learning and avail the said courses. Existing capacity of IWDC is not enough to accommodated excessive number of girls interested in the program. Capacity of the organization need enhancement, but pool of saving and indigenous resources in hand are not enough to finance capacity enhancement of IWDC for accommodating increased enrollment in the program. In this circumstance IWDC interested to expand present infrastructure with more machinery and other equipments in coordination with those organization working in the cause of women.

    Objectives of the Project:
    1. Accommodation maximum numbers of women community in capacity building and development process.
    2. Economic Empowerment of women through capacity building in non-traditional economic sector and building entrepreneurship among women community. Enhancing contribution of women community in production sector that is
    • Sewing, cutting, designing
    • Frame Art
    • Knitting
    • Hand Knitting,
    • Carpet/rug making,
    • Fashion Designing,
    • Cushion Making,
    • Ladies and Children suits,
    • Ladies/Children Bags,
    • Art and Craft
    • Mobile Cover,
    • Tissue Box,
    • Pillows Designing,
    • Bed Sheets,
    • Social Mobilization,
    • Patch Work/ Flower Work,
    • Bridal/ Ceremonial Dressing,
    • Quilt Cover,
    • Clothing/Dress Making etcetera
    3. And micro-enterprises. Co-ordination among Women Organization in district Chitral for exploring new markets and purchasing raw-materials at cost effective and reasonable price avoiding middle man’s interference and exploitation.
    4. Institutionalize its sustainability by involving Government NGOS and Community in the entire development. Output of Present investmentBreakdown of the IWDC
    Project Title Capacity Enhancement of IWDC
    Name of Organization Institute of Women Development Chitral
    Registration Status Social Welfare Department Regd#613, ICDP Chitral No.D0 (CDD) CTL.556
    Bank Account # Bank of Khyber : A/C No. 10459-2
    First Micro Finance Bank: A/C No: 66112-61
    Name of Manager Mrs. Iltafa Parveen
    President Miss. Asmatu Nissa
    Facilitator Mrs. Shahana
    Consultant & contact Person Professor Shamsu Nazar G.P.G College Chitral
    Saving of the Organization FMFB Rs. 16000 and BOK Rs. 58000/-
    Total Saving: Rs. 74000/-
    Address IWDC Jughoor Colony P.O. and District Chitral
    Phone No. 0943-413052, Mob # 03449045944
    IWDC Mail ID Iwdc.cl@gmil.com

    Website http//iwdc.cl.space.live.com
    Establishment date of IWDC April 2008
    Existing Infrastructure/Equipments of IWDC Sewing Machine 04, Zigzag 02, Peko Machine 1, Knitting Machine -1, P-iv System-1, Printer Laser Jet 1020-1,
    Progress details 1. 62 female are trained in various discipline of handicraft that is sewing, knitting, cushion making, embroidery and bead work, Kushnili, Iraqi cutting, fashion designing etc
    2. Resource Person of this organization imparted training to 30 women in the said discipline sponsored by Jafakash Awrat Chitral last year
    3. 60% trained candidates of this centre are engaged with income generating activities and economically empowered.

    Sustainability of the Project: IWDC is sustainable civil society Organization. Since establishment all the expenses of the organization are financed through indigenous resources. To meet daily expenditure IWDC charge nominal fees from the candidates learning skills in the centre except poorest of the poors women and girls who are admitted and trained free of cost. Revenue expenditure of the organization is financed by indigenous generated income but purchase of equipments and machinery demand mega investment, and it could be met by support of NGOs and development organization. IWDC is sustainable organization this project aim is capacity enhancement of already sustainable and pro-active organization.
    Innovative Approach of IWDC: IWDC provides Kids, raw-material support free of cost to those girls/women who belong to poorest of the poor and cannot afford purchasing of material from the market. In this case material and financial support are provided by IWDC in case of financial provision with the organization. IWDC also facilitate loaning to these trained girls/women for running their own business through the First Micro-finance Bank Chitral. Kids and material support has been provided to many poorest of the poor girls/women and 2 trained candidates of the centre have been facilitated with loan from FMFB for establishing their own sewing/knitting business at village level.
    1. Mrs. Altafa Parveen Shams
    2. Mrs. Rubina Noor Zaman
    Address: Jughoor Coloney, Jughoor, District Chtiral
    03449045944 03369383340 Facilitator: Sayed Shamsu Nazar Fatimi: 03449045944 Email: ssfatimi@gmail.com snazar3@hotmail.com , link: http//iwdc.cl.space.live.com http://www.groundreport.com/World/Women-Development-Program_2/2919426
    IWD CHITRAL\Women empowerment ALL VOICE.mht

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