|dc.description.abstract||Geographically isolated communities around the world are dependent upon the limited assets in local subsistence economies to generate livelihoods. Locally available resources shape and give identity to unique cultural activities that guarantee individual, family and community livelihood sustainability. The social structure provides community relationship networks, which ensure access to, and availability of, resources over long periods. Resources are utilised in ways that reduces vulnerability, stresses and shocks while ensuring long-term resilience. Preparedness and adaptation are embedded into cultural memory, enabling communities to survive in isolated, remote and harsh conditions. Communities’ cultural memories, storytelling, traditional knowledge, interdependence and unwritten cultural norms that build resilience to sustain cultures that have limited interactions with the outside world.
This thesis aims to investigate the consequences of transport infrastructure development, mainly of roads, on livelihood strategies of isolated communities in a tourism context in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The thesis incorporates a review of literature of transport infrastructure development and livelihood security in reference to vulnerability, resilience and sustainability. Research gaps are identified in terms of transport infrastructure development and tourism, the Sustainable Livelihood Approach, resilience and sustainability. The fieldwork was undertaken using qualitative research methods. Ninety-eight participants were interviewed using open-ended semi-structured interview questions to get an in-depth understanding of livelihood systems, livelihood activities and transport infrastructure development within the tourism context.
Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed mountainous territory in the Asia Subcontinent whose ancient trade routes (silk routes) were severed during the geopolitical upheaval of the partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947. An alliance between Pakistan and China resulted in transport infrastructure development of the Karakorum Highway between 1958 and 1978, providing the only road access to the regions isolated communities. Karakoram Highway connects China with Pakistan through Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is going through immense transport infrastructure development, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The road infrastructure is expected to link China and other South Asian and Central Asian countries to the world and provide a direct link for Chinese goods to reach the Persian Gulf. China Pakistan Economic Corridor is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative project, which aims to improve connectivity and cooperation between 69 Eurasian countries by investing in infrastructure development. Such an immense infrastructural development is expected to enhance the mobility of people, goods and services.
In order to understand the impacts of transport infrastructure development, this thesis has analysed livelihood capital status at macro, and micro levels are examined over two time periods (pre-road and post-road). Results show that sustainable farming practices provided long-term resilience to these geographically isolated communities. Transport infrastructure development has been a significant factor to ensure access and has resulted in changes to social inclusion, socio-political structures and livelihood opportunities with a subsequent dependence upon tourism, imported consumer goods and a monetary economy as people divert valuable farmland to building developments and cash crop monocultures. Gilgit-Baltistan is vulnerable to frequent manmade and natural disasters, such as terrorism, earthquakes and landslides. Shocks impact upon the livelihoods of those affiliated with tourism who are forced to revert to subsistence farming practices and alternative livelihood choices. The dependency on external resources and subsequent loss of the cultural memory and farming techniques has created a vulnerability to the unpredictable shocks and disasters that frequently close the singular access road.
The thesis finally presents the ‘Livelihood Framework for Transport Infrastructure Development and Tourism (LF-TIDT)’ a guiding tool to understand the impacts of transport infrastructure development at micro and macro levels for tourism planning, policy formulation and implementation and management. Attention is drawn to the newly introduced ‘Location: a Meta Capital’ and its importance in terms of geographically isolated communities. The research also highlights that livelihood capitals are not equally essential to achieve sustainable and resilient livelihood outcomes.||en