The Aga Khan Rural Support Program: Kalash people discover new ways to generate income

CHITRAL, May 15: Kalash people had discovered new avenues to augment their income by introducing guest house system in their homes for the tourists, a Japanese couple, visiting the valleys, told Dawn.

The couple said that they had faced accommodation problem when they visited Kalash valleys in 1980s but this time around they found a network of small guest houses offering a decent place to live where they felt at comfort and really enjoyed the visit.

“It provided us with an opportunity to peer into the unique lifestyle of the primitive people”, the couple said.

Regarding the new idea of guest houses, the Kalash people said that it was basically a part of Regional Women Empowerment Project (RWEP) of Economic Empowe-rment of Women Project of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme.

Looking for different means of livelihood for the womenfolk in the valleys, it discovered the idea of introducing small guest houses to generate additional income, they said.

RWEP provided training to the women on how to use their additional rooms as guest houses for the tourists and manage it, they said and added that the idea worked well and the people renovated a room or two for the guests with basic necessities. Mostly couples and families opt for such types of accommodation in the valleys where they cook food for themselves and enjoy an environment which the hotels cannot offer, they maintain.

Akbari Khan Kalash of Rumbur valley said that his life standard had improved due to the additional income accrued from the one-room guest house attached to his home. He said previously he had no source of income other than subsistence farming.

The Kalash people said that they felt pleased to host the touring couples and families as paying guests. Regarding the rates, they said that there was no rate fixed but it was placed at the wish of the guest.

The Kalash people demanded that credit must be made available to those who did not afford to raise additional rooms and make necessary settings for guest house as some of them were mired in abject poverty.

Source: DAWN

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