Natural disasters; their impact on small enterprises in Chitral

According to conservative estimates, about 800 small businesses (shops, stores, godowns, fruit orchards, and set-ups) are fully damaged during the recent floods and earthquake while more than 600 partially damaged.

The damage is not only to the physical infrastructure of the businesses but also to the assets. Some shops have been washed away such as those in Muzgole Mulkow and Shoghore where tens of shops are gone with the flash floods.

The cash crop growers such as potato farmers and apple merchants lost major portion of their produce either to floods or collapsed transportation infrastructure. The total financial impact of the business losses would be in billions. Many water mills are damaged and people have to travel miles to buy floor from town markets.

The local shopkeepers as well as consumers are facing unbearable hardships for transportation of commodities from Chitral Town to the remote villages where roads are broken, and suspension bridges are collapsed. After the floods, the recent terrifying earthquake has added salt to the injuries of the poor consumers as well as small scale businessmen.

On one hand the purchasing power of the consumer has decreased as their wealth is now distributed to cover additional rehabilitation costs and on the other hand the prices of necessary commodities have increased due to increase in demand and constraints in supply. Two of the major reasons of supply constraints are floods and earthquakes that have broken the regular supply chain and added to transportation costs. These natural disasters have exacerbated the already existing problems of the rural market of Chitral. The small scale businessmen are now more risk averse and it would take more than five years for them to regain the same pre-disaster operational capacity. In an area where entrepreneurial culture is not that encouraging, these disasters have pushed the local small scale businessmen way back.

They either have to start from scratch or put together the broken pieces of their assets to restart what was once a well established butcher shops (such as in Shogore), general stores (such as in Muzhgole), bakeries (Reshun), hotels (as in Bumburate) easy-load points (Muzhgole and others) and auto service stations (such as in Kuragh).

Although some might argue that these disasters also gave business opportunities such as solar panels business, generators sale, construction materials retail, transportation service etc but given the magnanimity of the business losses and dent in the market structure, these opportunities have minimal impact on the collective economic activity within the district.

The people of Chitral are currently living in a depressed economic state and the small scale businessmen need a big supporting hand to restart their business activities. Last and not the least, it’s the private sector which is the key to the development of any region, district or country. This sector needs attention of the Government too.

Otherwise, the local consumers would be dying in harsh winters due to unavailability of commodities and the small scale enterprises of the district will be no more available for the next 3-5 years. The writer is a business graduate and blogs at: http://attasabir.blogspot.com)

8 Replies to “Natural disasters; their impact on small enterprises in Chitral”

  1. thanks bro for nice and struggle .. i just choice the topic “the economic problem of the disaster effected people of chitral” for my final semester research, i hope your article will helpful for me.. i hope being a senior you will help me in this regard..
    yours Syed Masroor Ali Shah Peer

  2. My Dear Atta Ur Rehman, Fardad Ali Shah and Imran Elahi Sahibs, I am really thankful to Mr. Atta Ur Rehman for highlighting the issue and I am so happy to see Mr. Frardad Ali Shah to offer his voluntary services for detailed assessment and concerned of Mr. Imran about the selection of risky business location.
    This is a good development and innovative approach in Pakistan that we are considering this neglected, but the very important economic activities of our society. If 800 business houses destroyed that mean 800 families and almost 7000 people are now been added to the extreme poverty list in Chitral. This is really a concerned for all of us and needs urgent action. I understand the financial, timewise and energy cost of professional men like Mr. Atta, but happy to know that there are people like Mr. Fardad Ali Shah who are ready to provide voluntary services. I am sure you all together will find volunteers like Fardad in another part of the region and Mr. Atta a professionally coordinate these efforts for the compilation of a comprehensive report to develop a proposal for the donor. We will appreciate, young people to come forward and provide information to me at harirchitral@hotmail.com or haririslamabad@gmail.com to enable me to consolidate the finding for developing concentrate documentation for possible support. I wish we have enough funding for support this activities, but we are unable to do this time, however if the proposal is approved, those who contributed will be the part of the implementation.

  3. Dear Atta Ur Rehman, thank you for sharing nice overview on the subject. Here I would just like to draw the attention of the viewers on another important aspect that has multiplied the economic loss to the local retailers which is the improper shop selection. In fact, ‘Publicity, Promotion & Proper Display’ is one of the issue of less concern of the local tradesmen in the local market. It is a common practice in our market that the retailers or big “BROs” in order to make the rental options economical they usually select those shops or spots that are either not in good condition or are hazard pron. That is why it has been observed that mostly those tradesmen had badly been affected who chose the option of less investment-more profit. It is the duty of all the stakeholder who are engaged in business development to sensitize the local tradesmen regarding selection of proper and feasible (SPATIAL and SPECIAL) business sites.

    1. Dear Imran Bhai, thank you so much for the appreciation. Yes i agree that choice of ‘place’ or business location should be strategic. In Khowar we say “Hono apaka dur korik” which is always a very risky venture. Thank you for your valuable inputs to the discussion.

  4. I am pleased to read your article stating all about business. Being the part of a society I will assist you in providing detail of Garamchashma. We need visionary people like you and Mr. Harir Shah sir willing to do something positive to the already affected people. Your positive response in this case will be highly appreciated.

    1. Dear, i’m also hoping that Harir Shah sb would bring something innovative and sustainable. As i’m a full time employee in private sector i may not be available to give full time in this regards. However, i’m available for any possible input from my side. Secondly, people like you who have indigenous knowledge can come up with good suggestions and ideas.
      Cheers!

  5. My dear Attau Rehman, highly appreciated your posting on blog and drawing the important aspect of micro-enterprises in the ecosystem of Chitral. We highly appreciate to incorporate the damages in the overall Disaster Damage and Needs Assessment. Unfortunately this aspect is missing and no one is ready to compensate the damages. I will appreciate, if you very kindly detailed the losses of the damaged enterprises as mentioned in your blog on the basis of recent market value and the losses the community will sustain with the damaged assets and financial impact on the families till they enable to restart. What is your suggestion to reengage the people in their business and how a dynamic robust system could be established to support those affected people. For me social entrepreneurship is an excellent idea, a unique one after post disaster event. Please share the detailed at harirchitral@hotmail.com.

    1. Dear Sir,
      Thank you for your appreciation. I can understand your concern and yes for a complete disaster and risk assessment including market actors is a mandatory. However, assessment of market losses and the financial impact is a project which would take at least a month and a good chunk of budget as survey design and field visits will be necessary. Let me know if I can be part of any such project. I agree that social entrepreneurship will yield better results too.
      Thanks and regards,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.