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Long-term support and developments by Agha Khan’s network in Pakistan

Published on 18th May, Edition 20, 2015

 

Northern areas of Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa been specially focused

The Agha Khan manages all social and humanitarian initiatives through the Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN). Eleven agencies operate within the AKDN each focusing on a different objective e.g. education, health, microfinance, planning and building etc. Regional agencies within AKDN identify areas where funds can be allocated whereas budgeting is done through the AKDN regional office. AKDN operates no less than a multinational in terms of planning. Efforts of AKDN in Pakistan are relatively new and in introductory stages unlike other foundations operating in Pakistan and here for decades.

AKDN specially focuses on Africa, Asian region including Pakistan, Afghanistan India, Bangladesh, North America and Canada, Russia and selected countries in Europe. With respect to Pakistan, AKDN has special focus in Northern Areas, North West Frontier (Chitral) and Baltistan in addition to other provinces in Pakistan. AKDN through its agencies have various programs which are implemented in Pakistan. We will focus such programs and achievements of AKDN in Pakistan.

Rural support

The Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) was established in 1982 by Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Pakistan to address widespread poverty and vulnerability in the remote valleys of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountains. The AKRSP program covers Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral regions of Pakistan. AKRSP focuses on construction of community based mini and micro hydro power projects, physical infrastructure, livelihood enhancement, enterprise development and market development. The Gilgit-Baltistan area alone has a population of 1.3 million people. AKRSP has done construction of hundreds of small bridges, irrigation channels and other small infrastructure projects, which includes planting of over 30 million trees, reclamation of over 90,000 hectares of degraded land, mobilization of over 4,500 community organizations and the creation of savings groups to encourage people develop habit of savings and using money at the time of need.

In December 2012, memorandum of understanding was signed between the Health Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan (AKHSP) taking over of Tehsil Headquarter Hospital, Garam Chashma, Chitral for a period of five years, so that quality health facilities could be provided to the people of the remote area by filling up the gap of specialist doctors, paramedics and modern medical equipment’s in the hospital.

In November 2013, the AKHSP ingurgitated a rural health center in Mastuj, Chitral. Agha Khan is also in the process of developing a health center and maternity home in GT road Peshawar. Since the location in on an earthquake belt, the constructions is accounting for all permutations of a possible earth quake. AKHSP is also developing and managing health centers in remote locations of Pakistan.

Technology-related initiatives

Unlike dams, AKRSP introduced micro-hydel technology which involves simply digging a narrow channel to divert water along a hillside and into a pipe, creating enough pressure to turn a turbine and so produce 20-100kw of power. There are over 180 micro-hydel units supplying electricity to 50 percent of the population of Chitral. The projects are implemented, maintained and managed by the communities themselves.

The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBSP), established in 1980, is an independent executive body with the mandate to plan and implement infrastructure and technology related development initiatives to improve living conditions of the people. AKPBSP has an objective to assist local communities within various provinces and regions, such as the Northern Areas of Pakistan. AKPBSP, at present is actively engaged in reconstruction efforts of local communities following the catastrophic earthquake in Kashmir and NWFP province of Pakistan.

 

Availability of water and its disease prevention plans

The Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP) is part of the AKPBSP initiative. Approximately 80 percent to 85 percent of the population of Northern Areas of Pakistan and the Chitral in the NWFP province do not have access to potable water, whereas up to 60 percent of the population collects water from open channels, often requiring a walk of up to 3 km a trip several times a day. Women and children are mostly responsible to collect most of the household water and hence bear the most burden.

WASEP was initiated in 1997 with the aim of providing integrated water supply infrastructure services to local communities and to help prevent water related diseases though improved hygiene and sanitation practices.

The AKPBSP has also initiated the Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP). The Northern Areas of Pakistan are located in a seismically unstable zone. The degradation of natural resources, especially the loss of foliage and vegetation cover, has been proceeding at an alarming rate, causing land degradation and soil destabilization which, in turn, has led to diminished economic prospects for residents and even the loss of life (due to mudslides and floods associated with deforestation). The main cause of this deforestation is use of wood in house construction and for fuel. An estimated 15 percent of all household income is spent on heating, cooking and house maintenance needs. To find solutions to this problem, the Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP) was set up by the Aga Khan as a research and extension programme. It has introduced over 70 products and technologies in local communities.

Since 1997, more than 18,000 households and approximately 150,000 people have benefited from one or more of the 36,000 BACIP products. More than 9,500 cooking stoves including 8,900 water warming facilities, 8,600 floor insulation, 1,500 roof hatch windows have been installed. BACIP products reduce domestic biomass consumptions which accounts for 85 percent of for overall wood consumption in the program area by 160 percent. BACIP stoves reduce smoke related diseases, which account for around 35 percent of all acute diseases in the program area by as much as 60 percent. BACIP has trained 6,400 construction craftsmen, product manufacturers and entrepreneurs/salespersons.

The Agha Khan also runs and supporting their plans in other parts of Pakistan, as flood relief efforts, distribution of medicines and to provide the community, the best of needs are the able support to our local community. Focus however, is expected to remain in Northern Pakistan. Agha Khan also uses best practices from around the world and designs its products and offerings for the Pakistani community in order to best serve the people.

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