Setting Up The Conservation Process

Conservation in Ganish began when the people became intrested in the community-led sanitation project that was completed in Karimabad between 1994 and 1995. When Karimabad had to negotiate easements for their trunk sewers on land belonging to Ganish, the people of Ganish took the opportunity and requested AKCS-P to begin a similar project in their village.
The Project developed as a series of interactions between the community of Ganish and AKCS-P. These interactions were often intense and charged, particularly when issues were at stake that related to participation, the harnessing of collective energies and the setting aside of individual interests in favor of the collective good. While a considerable amount of technical and financial resources from external sources (AKTC, NORAD and the Embassy of Spain) were channeled into the project, the community in Ganish also contributed throughout the project with their physical labor and their organizational and leadership skills. What has been achieved in Ganish is an indicator of the wisdom and far-sightedness of the community leaders in Ganish.
It was in Ganish that the AKCS-P team was able to apply its skills learned in Karimabad in a unified and comprehensive way. Until the project in Ganish began, these skills had tended to be divided into two distinct components, acquired separately by two groups of the AKCS-P personnel. On one hand were those who had worked on the Baltit Fort, and held purely conservation, landscape conservation, land-use issues, projects of infrastructure development, and home-improvement and building technology, and had well-developed skills in these fields. In Ganish, the coming together of these two different kinds of resources resulted in a synergy of skills, ideas and resources. The result was a welcome enlargement of technical capacities within AKCS-P that later enabled it to rapidly expand its activities and its area of operations.
The Ganish project was driven by community demand. Meetings between the community and the AKCS-P support group led to the commencement of the project, and consultations with the community were held throughout its implementation. Essential to the project was the physical participation of the people in the actual construction work. The community contributed about twenty percent of the cost of the project in the form of unskilled volunteer labor and substantive management inputs.
The most urgent need of the people was a sanitary system. Although government
departments had already provided a modicum of clean water supply there was no proper drainage of the wastewater produced as a result. As in the other part of Hunza, the development of roads and commercial establishments had destroyed the privacy that the people needed for their traditional ways of life. As a result the customary ways of life in the village had been rapidly modified. A trend towards building new houses with private bathrooms and toilets in farmland outside the village had started and the old village had been increasingly abandoned, leaving behind the poorest. The village was not a clean and happy place to be.
The village already had electricity. But the distribution system in place had been provided without any acknowledgements that the village had any historic or cultural value. Electric poles had been erected without any concern for the environment, even within historic building structures. The village elders were, however, conscious of the assets of their village. They knew of its ancient past, and had a notion of the value of its heritage. This was authentic traditional village with a group of commanding watchtowers and historic village dwellings untouched by bad repair of alterations, admirably located on the main Karakoram Highway, and endowed with a rich admixture of traditional urban spaces, defensive structures, and religious and residential architecture of considerable value. With magnificent views of surrounding mountains the village was, potentially, a major attraction for visitors.
Apart from seeking a sanitary sewerage in the village, the elders were also interested in the rehabilitation of the ancestral pharee,which had been used for generations for the supply of water for washing and bathing. Even though tap water was now available, the settlement lacked bathrooms and toilets. The villagers were still partly using the ancient open pond for purposed of hygiene and cleanliness. With the anticipated sewerage system, the pharee began to be seen in a new light. The sanitation project began in 1996. That part of it which was executed in Ganish Khun, was integrated with a storm water drainage system, a new under-ground electricity distribution network, and a new piped water network. Paving for the entire street network of the Khun was integrated in the project, including the space surrounding the pharee, and the part of the old polo ground that is being used by the children’s school.
Special details had to be worked out to deal with the undulating levels of the small lanes, and where the streets were covered over by houses and vertical clearances were limited. Pre-existing water supply pipes had to be upgraded and the electricity cables were laid carefully in very stringent space confines. Stone paving included designing special details for such things as steps and stairs, and the edge of the water pond and special stones had to be used for these purposes.