Risks and hazards associated with climate change and geological factors, especially in the world's youngest mountains, are inevitable and may have been exacerbated in recent decades. However reports about increased landslips and landslides in some areas are being presented as examples to argue that most natural hazards in mountain areas are due to climate change. Based on a field study in the Yourjogh area of Chitral District in Pakistan, we argue that this discourse is based on generalized conclusions that do not hold in all cases and for all types of disasters. Our study challenges the climate change discourse as disregarding the political dimension of water management that also contributes to landslides and landslips in Pakistan's mountainous regions. The climate change discourse has taken the politics out of external-donor-led development interventions that replaced traditional irrigation management practices and institutions with an arrangement in which external development agencies and the state control crucial economic and social processes that shape the distribution of water. This not only depoliticizes disasters and their effects but also leads to further mismanagement of abundantly available irrigation water, contributing to the frequent occurrence of landslips in our study area. We conclude that attributing hazards only to climatic or geological factors leaves little room to promote locally appropriate solutions for locally created hazards.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2