Aga Khan Development Network in the cross-border Afghanistan - tajikistan

Connection and seperation

Once an interconnected region of opportunity and key point along the silk route, Afghanistan and Tajikistan were formally divided in 1895 into separate entities under Russian and British/Afghan influence.

The cross-border region

Remote, unstable and mountainous - communities on both sides of the border are vulnerable to natural disasters. The border between to the two Badakhshans is marked by the Panj River.

AKDN & PARTNER INVESTMENTS

Energy

Since AKDN took over Pamir Energy in 2002, it has turned around a loss making company into the most efficient utility in the country and ensured 88% of households in GBAO receive a clean and reliable supply of electricity.

In 2008, Pamir Energy began exporting it's hydro-electric energy across the border to Afghan Badakhshan to reach communities who had never before received electicity. This not only reduced the cost of electricity by $84 a month, but also led to improved health, better education possibilities and new economic activities amongst other benefits.

Ambitious plans will increase the reach to 40% of Afghan Badakhshan by 2020.

Bridges & markets

Since 2002, 5 cross-border bridges have been constructed with markets positioned at either end. This has led to improved food security, a considerable increase in trade and enabled cultural exchange between the historically linked Badakhshans. Markets also provide significant economic opportunity for women; at some markets as many as 80% of traders are women.

Roads, irrigation and riverbank stabilisation

New roads are being constructed to increase and improve access to markets, medical care and schools. A new set of irrigation channels will result in a further 2,000 hectares of land becoming available for agricultural uses. This is complemented by riverbank stabilisation programmes on both sides of the river that release new tracts of land for agriculture in a region of the world where only 2% of land is arable.

Governance and livelihoods

As a facilitating partner of the Afghanistan National Solidarity Programme, AKDN has helped form over 9% of Afghanistan's community development councils which provide a crucial link between national government and rural communities. Through the creation of social audits (mechanisms through which communities can hold their leaders accountable), AKDN and its partners have contributed towards improved accountability and transparency, and increased acceptance and trust at district and local levels.

So successful has been the introduction of social audits that they are being institutionalised by the Afghan Ministry of Rural Development. In the next 2-3 years every village in Afghanistan will undergo social audits.

"For the first time, we feel like we have some control over our lives. We can finally hold our leaders accountable"

Built environment and disaster risk reduction

The cross-border region suffers from considerable seismic instability and is increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Consequently, AKDN employs a variety of measures such as hazard vulnerability risk assessments, the retro-fitting of homes and schools, the creation of rescue groups, and the strengthening of riverbanks to mitigate these risks. Hundreds of thousands of people have so far benefitted from these and other disaster preparedness activities.

'$1 invested in prevention could save $7 in recovery' (UNISDR 2010)

Education

EducationAKDN's programmes span the continuum of education from early childhood development (ECD) to tertiary and continuing education. At the ECD level, AKDN has helped increase access to kindergartens from 9% in 2009 to 33% by 2012. Training programmes have provided high quality teacher training for hundreds of Afghan and Tajik teachers improving education for thousands of children.

The University of Central Asia's (UCA) School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) has trained over 80,000 people since 2006 helping them develop skills in accounting, entrepreneurship, journalism, public administration and other fields. 70% have found employment after graduation.

UCA's Khorog campus which begins construction this year will establish an anchor for investment in the region and produce the region's future public and private sector leaders.

Health

AKDN partners with the public sector to provide much needed health services to a region with some of the worst health indicators in the world. A breakthrough referral scheme allows Afghans to cross the border without a passport (97% are without) or a visa (which are often costly) to secure emergency care. Cross-border health programmes serve c. 323,000 people in the region (80% of GBAO and 17.5% of Afghan Badakhshan).

For more information about AKDN's existing activities and future plans in the cross-border region, please contact Matt Reed, AKF(UK) CEO: matt.reed@akdn.org

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