Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:46 am Post subject: Aga Khan Agency for the Habitat – a new AKDN Agency
Aga Khan Agency for the Habitat – a new AKDN Agency has multiple job opportunities – apply by Dec 20
A new agency, the Aga Khan Agency for the Habitat (AKAH), has been created to expressly focus on built habitat and human settlements in high risk areas. The agency brings together the supra-national capabilities of the Ismaili Imamat’s Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – a constellation of institutions working in complementary and synergistic ways to address the challenges of improving the living condition of marginalized peoples around the world, specifically in Africa and Asia.
Based in Geneva, the General Manager will be responsible for ensuring the successful set up of the new Agency, provide strategic and operational leadership to AKAH’s field units in different countries, review budgets, monitor and evaluate programmatic interventions and for develop contemporary approaches to the strategic outlook.
Head of Emergency Management, Head of Planning and Building Department, and Head of Operational Research, Monitoring and Communications positions are also being offered to capable and interested candidates in Switzerland and Tajikistan.
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (including FOCUS) and USAID sign agreement to create resilient communities in Shimshal Valley
Islamabad, Pakistan, 20 January 2017 - The Department of Emergency Management (formerly FOCUS) of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program initiated a project “Creating Resilient Communities in Shimshal Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan”. The project, which aims to build resilience against the threat of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) events in Shimshal valley, will build the capacity of community members in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM).
The project also aims to conduct hazard and risk assessment of four glaciers in the valley and improve risk anticipation through the establishment of an Early Warning System (EWS). The proposed Early Warning System will be linked with the existing Early Warning Centre (EWC) in Gilgit to monitor potential risk in the GLOF areas, which will not only benefit the Shimshal valley but many other villages located along the Hunza river downstream.
“Our aim is to create safer habitat where communities can see a future for themselves,” said Nawab Ali Khan, Chief Executive Officer, AKAH. “The main goal of the integration of the programmes of FOCUS and Aga Khan Planning and Building Service Pakistan (AKPBSP) into AKAH is to create resilient and sustainable communities. Such partnerships will help in achieving this goal.”
AKAH has so far trained more than 36,000 volunteers for disaster response and management across Pakistan. It is the recipient of the Sitara-i-Eisaar award conferred by the government of Pakistan in recognition of its humanitarian assistance during the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake. The “Creating Resilient Communities in Shimshal Valley” project is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat to provide safe drinking water to over 54,000 people in Pakistan
Pakistan, 10 July 2017 - The Government of Gilgit Baltistan and the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat has agreed on a joint venture to provide clean drinking water to around 6000 households in district Gilgit.
The agreement was confirmed in a meeting held between the Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Pakistan (AKAH), Mr. Nawab Ali Khan, and the Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan, Dr. Kazim Niaz held in Gilgit on July 10, 2017.
It was agreed that AKAH will receive a grant of PKR 300 million (approximately USD 2.85 million) from the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan to provide safe drinking water to around 6,000 households – a population of over 54,000 people – in Danyore, Muhammadabad, Sultanabad and Gujardass and build capacity of relevant government agencies for adoption of WASEP approach.
During the meeting, which was attended by government high officials and AKAH’s management, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan expressed appreciation for AKAH’s long-term commitment to improve the quality of life of communities in Gilgit-Baltistan through its award-winning and internationally acclaimed Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP).
CHITRAL: An event to mark the National Disaster Day was organised in Chitral here on Thursday.
The district administration in collaboration with University of Chitral and Agha Khan Agency for Habitat had organised the event to promote awareness among the people about natural and man-made disasters and to minimise the damages in a calamity. Deputy Commissioner Irshad Sodhar was the chief guest on the occasion.
The participants put forward various suggestions to minimise the casualties
and other material loss in case of a disaster and stressed for participation of local people in the disaster risk management to benefit from their experiences to minimise damages in case of a disaster.
Impacts of Global Climate Change in Chipurson Valley
“Impacts of Global Climate Change in Chipurson Valley”
Photo Credit Haider Ali
Global warming has significantly changed the yearly weather timetable. The locals are astonished to experience the snow in May. Such drastic change in the weather may affect the agriculture and livestock. These two sectors are the only source of income for the habitats. Chipurson valley is located in an area which is prone to harsh weather conditions and other natural forces.
Structural Survey Engineer
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat invests in capacity development of its Search and Rescue Team
ISLAMABAD: (PR) The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, collaborated with the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) and the Punjab Emergency Service to organize a certification course for its Search and Rescue Teams (SARTs) in Lahore. The training, which was attended by 26 SART members, including men and women, aimed to develop skills for urban search and rescue, water rescue, and powered rescue boat.
AKAH has led the development and capacity building of regional SARTs for over two decades. Recognizing the gender sensitivities in disaster response, nearly 35% of the SARTs’ members are women. Trained in light to medium search and rescue techniques according to the International Search and Rescue Response Guidelines (INSARAG), SARTs have actively responded in several national level disasters including: the Astore Earthquake in 2002, the Kashmir Earthquake in 2005, the building collapse in Lyari, Karachi in 2009, and the Attabad Landslide in 2010.
Appraising the need to focus on capacity building of SARTs to continue to effectively respond in events of disasters, the CEO of AKAH, Mr. Nawab Ali Khan said, “The severe impacts of climate change and the increasing frequency of disasters in Pakistan call for improved capacities of the communities to cope against such disasters. Participation of SARTs in such courses is an essential way to equip their knowledge and skills for quality disaster response”
Volunteers come to aid following monsoon floods in Kerala
Floods had brought life in Kerala to a standstill. Hundreds of lives were lost. Thousands of homes were totally destroyed and many more were damaged. In an act of solidarity to help Kerala brace the odds, The Aga Khan Agency of Habitat, India took the lead in consolidating the support from the Jamats all around India to make our little contribution in the flood relief measures.
Kerala, India was hit with what has been termed by meteorologists as the worst floods in over a century, this past August.
Hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands were displaced with no place to call home. There was huge damage to crops, property, and livelihoods.
In its darkest hours and moments of despair and destruction, members of the Jamat from all over the country stepped forward to assist Kerala in recovering from the crisis.
Under the leadership of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and other institutions, volunteers worked to procure relief material and items that could be distributed to those in need in the aftermath of the calamity.
Approximately 3.5 tonnes of relief material was collected from across the country. Water bottles, undergarments, lungis, gowns, diapers, sanitary napkins, mosquito repellents, items of first aid, hygiene kits, plates, towels, batteries, bed sheets, blankets, and sleeping mats were collected and sent to Kerala.
In Silvassa, the Ismaili Volunteer Corps., as well as a team of scouts and guides worked together going door to door to collect items required in the relief work.
Members of the Jamat in Bavla, Gujarat also helped in the post-relief operations by contributing basic food items such as rice, dal, sugar, dry snacks, as well as essential items of clothing.
Suleman Khoja, the convener of Crisis Committee for Kutch, said, “When I heard that AKAH India had initiated efforts to give relief material for people of Kerala and that we needed to collect it from the Jamat, my team and I decided to make the most of it. It was a good medium to reach out and help the people of Kerala. Kutch Jamat was a great helping hand. The volunteers also did a great job. Indeed, they are the foundation of our community.”
He reminisced about the terrible destruction caused by an earthquake in Kutch in 2001. “We could feel the pain of the people in Kerala as Kutch Jamat too were victims of devastation due to the earthquake,” he said.
During this difficult time, volunteers of the India Jamat provided a spark to ignite disaster relief efforts in Kerala, assisting the local community to get back to its feet and embark on the process of reconstruction.
Relief efforts of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat in Kerala, India
Kerala, a state on the southern coast of India, faced unprecedented flooding in the month of August 2018 due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. Hundreds of people died; hundreds of thousands were displaced. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of the state was directly affected by the floods and related incidents.
In the aftermath of the calamity, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat India (AKAH) deployed its Disaster Assessment and Response Team (DART) in the days immediately following the flooding. The team conducted its assessment in two badly-affected districts, Ernakulam and Alappuzha. They found that large numbers of people living in relief camps faced a significant shortage of non-food items necessary for personal and environmental health and hygiene. They also found that people returning to their villages came back to homes filled with slush and muck, toilets that were destroyed, and contaminated wells. The DART report made it clear that health and hygiene would be a major concern going forward.
AKAH mobilised 51 tonnes of non-food relief material through community appeals, amounting to 5,148 relief kits, each having a monetary value of Rs. 3065 (approximately USD 45). The kits were sorted and packed by volunteers led by AKAH personnel and transported to Kerala by rail free of cost by Indian Railways. The relief kits were then transported to flood-affected villages in Ernakulam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Wayanad and Trissur districts.
“The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat is among the non-governmental organisations that have provided the largest quantity of NFI (Non-Food Item) relief materials for flood affected people in Kerala,” said Mr. K Mohammed Y Safirulla, IAS, Collector and District Magistrate of Ernakulam. “We acknowledge and highly appreciate the support of AKAH.”
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat helps create innovative knowledge sharing platform for Tajikistan
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 21 February 2019 – In order to address the important need identified by the Government of Tajikistan for Government agencies and partners to have access to clear and reliable information on the hazards and risks impacting the country, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CoESCD) and the Main Department of Geology have come together to support the implementation of a knowledge sharing platform known as the “Open Center”.
The Open Center, which now connects the two Government departments, will be extended to other departments in the near future. The platform is composed of two physical facilities, one in each department with dedicated trained staff using an integrated data analysis and mapping tool, which is able to support emergency response planning, risk prediction and risk mapping and which will act as the institutional memory for knowledge around risk management developed by government partners across the country.
The Open Center will act as a collaborative working tool, which will allow stakeholders to share hazard risk catalogues, and hazard assessments, which have been conducted by organisations working on hazard mapping across Tajikistan, as well as an information repository, storing this data for future generations. The centre will be accessible to the Government, international organisations, donor agencies, NGOs and other researchers or practitioners in this field.
Funding for this innovative initiative was generously provided by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Aga Khan Foundation.
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s Water and Sanitation Extension Programme: Closing the gap in the remotest areas of the world
By Onno Ruhl, General Manager, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat
In Northern Pakistan, Silgan Valley is one of the most remote valleys in Ghizer District of Gilgit-Baltistan, and Ghasoom Village is at the very end of it. Part of a cluster of villages on a flat piece of land, at the end of the valley, it is closed off on three sides by magnificent glaciers. On a sunny autumn day, like the one on 26 October of 2018, the place looks like a mountaineer’s dream and a great spot for a relaxing vacation away from it all. The reality, however, is different: Every glacier is a direct threat to the village, which is subject to flash floods, rock falls, debris flows and the possibility of glacial lake outbursts due to the growing instability of glaciers in this part of the world.
The community here is used to a hard life and mobilises easily to protect itself from hazard. The daily grind of taking care of oneself and the community overwhelms every other activity, especially for the women. The government programmes that would normally provide water, power, education and health care have limited reach this far.
This is why the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) embarked on its Priority Valley Programme for Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral in Northern Pakistan. The programme turns priorities upside down: It targets the most remote valleys first.
My visit on 26 October 2018 was to mark the occasion when the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP) managed to put a working tap – providing World Health Organisation (WHO)-quality water – in every single household in the entire Siligan Valley, as well as in four other priority valleys. This has turned the world upside down: In the most remote place one can imagine, 100 percent coverage has been achieved. Our colleagues from the other AKDN agencies have also done fantastic things in their sectors. There are now good schools, access to health care and an extensive livelihoods programme to match.
But today is World Water Day, so today is our WASEP day! Over a 20-year period, WASEP has provided WHO-quality water to more than 100,000 households in Northern Pakistan – more than half a million people. The best part is that the 20-year old systems still work thanks to high technical standards and a community engagement approach that ensures proper maintenance of the water systems.
Thanks to this programme, the girls in the community now have time to go to school and pursue their dreams, which transforms the quality of life of their families. The rate of diarrhoeal diseases has dropped dramatically, contributing to better living as well as learning outcomes. The benefits are many.
We hope to cover two other priority valleys this year, and we have embarked on an ambitious programme for water supply of a major part of Gilgit Town and its suburbs, together with the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan. At the same time, we are mobilising WASEP approaches in Tajikistan with our colleagues from the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, and Afghanistan will be next. Water will be our priority every day, not just on World Water Day…
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat and UK partners train female rescuers in Tajikistan and Afghanistan
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 2 April 2019 – The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), in collaboration with Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST), Staffordshire Emergency Services Humanitarian Aid Association (SESHAA), Women in the Fire Service (WFS) of United Kingdom and British Embassy in Tajikistan organised a search and rescue training for 16 female participants in an effort to build capacity for disaster preparedness and response operations in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The partnership follows the signing of an agreement for the expansion of cross-border cooperation for disaster preparedness and response to emergency.
From the onset of its interventions in Tajikistan, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) has aligned closely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, Goal 5 –Gender Equality) and Tajikistan’s National Strategy in the field of humanitarian assistance and Disaster Risk Reduction, ensuring that gender equality is an integral part of its activities.
AKAH places emphasis on engaging women and children to its disaster and awareness and preparedness trainings, given they are the most vulnerable groups when it comes to disasters. Today, female members are actively involved in the search and rescue operations, together with their male counterparts across the region.
FIRE AID, a UK-based umbrella organisation under which the key UK project partners EASST, SESHAA and WFS collaborate, generously donated vital equipment worth US$ 40,000 for the training. The shipment of this equipment was arranged through the long-standing partnership between EASST and the Aga Khan Development Network.
The training, delivered by UK fire fighters and rescue experts, enabled participants to learn in depth search and rescue strategies and techniques, and methods of search and rescue operations using special rescue and personal protective equipment.
Marhabo Saboieva, Tajikistan SART member, shared her experience noting: “The training enabled us to not only learn and practice main operations related to search and rescue, but also provided a space where all female rescuers from Tajikistan and Afghanistan shared their work experience. I have realised more the importance of female rescuers during emergencies as many families in Tajikistan, due to some cultural sensitivity in relation to gender issues, prefer female rescuers over male ones to help their female members”.
Suhaylo Nazari, Afghanistan SART member, stated: “The training was a great opportunity to strengthen the regional cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan in disaster preparedness and response”. The techniques and methods learnt from professional instructors, according to Suhaylo, will be shared with other members of her team once she is back in Afghanistan.
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat and UN-Habitat in partnership on habitat planning, policy and design
Nairobi, Kenya, 30 May 2019 - The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) today signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN agency focused on sustainable urbanisation, UN - Habitat. The MoU will further enhance AKAH’s work in implementing and driving urban and rural habitat planning, policy and design in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kenya to improve the quality of life of the communities it serves.
AKAH, with other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), will partner with UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Design Branch in urban policy and capacity building and will support the development of the UN-Habitat’s newly formed Global Network of Labs through shared planning projects and the development of normative products and publications.
UN Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, welcomed the partnership, stating: ‘We are very honored to have the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat and the AKDN at our First Assembly. I first worked on a conservation action plan with the AKDN in Penang. I would like to renew my partnership from Penang to Nairobi with AKAH and the AKDN. I look forward to doing sustainable projects and to developing normative work to further sustainable development goals and urban planning frameworks for implementation with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’.
Onno Ruhl, General Manager of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, said ‘It is such an honor to be present at the First Assembly of the UN-Habitat under Madame Maimunah Sharif’s leadership. This MoU is an anchor to our partnership and we are very excited to work on urban and rural planning and resilience projects with the UN-Habitat and the UN-Habitat Lab. My commitment is to make sure this is an MoU of action. This is a big day for us’.
The signing of this historic agreement took place during UN-Habitat’s First Assembly with the theme “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities” at the Agency’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. (https://unhabitat.org/habitatassembly/).
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), was established in 2015 to address the increasing threat posed by natural disasters and climate change. As an agency of the global Aga Khan Development Network, it works to ensure that poor people live in settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters; that residents who live in high-risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response, and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunity and a better quality of life.
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat raises awareness on National School Safety Day in Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan, 16 May 2019 – To protect schoolchildren from natural disasters and other insecurities, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) convened government education departments, academia, district disaster management authorities and the media in Gilgit-Baltistan, Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab.
Mr. Hafiz Noorullah, Education Development Officer, Chitral, said on a radio talk show: “A lack of awareness and knowledge makes the disaster happen. So there is a need to have more and more information sharing through different media platforms and involvement of young people in interactive discussions to sensitise them on the topics of safety and security.”
Mr. Nawab Ali Khan, Chief Executive Officer, AKAH Pakistan said: “In the 2005 earthquake, Pakistan lost around 20,000 children due to vulnerable structures and lack of awareness and preparedness, which cannot be repeated. We need our schools to be resilient and better prepared for similar situations. We are thankful to our public and private-sector partners for joining hands with us to achieve this objective.”
For the last 20 years, AKAH has been designing and implementing programmes on Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation in some of Pakistan’s most vulnerable areas. More than 1,000 schools in disaster-prone areas have benefitted from the development of hazard and risk maps, school safety plans, provision of school safety kits, and awareness raising and capacity building of individuals.
School-level awareness raising sessions have been part of the work of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat since the Islamabad Conference on School Safety held in 2008. AKAH’s School Safety Programme will contribute towards the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s one million safe schools and hospitals global campaign, and contribute towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and practical implementation of the Pakistan School Safety Framework.
Aga Khan Agency for Habitat partners to design affordable, climate-resilient single-family homes
Geneva, Switzerland, 13 May 2019 - The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) partnered with the “Resilient Homes Design Challenge” in a crowdsourced challenge – spearheaded by the World Bank - to design climate-resilient single-family homes costing less than US$ 10,000.
Over the last 10 years, natural disasters have caused 23 million people to become homeless – many of them poor. The challenge was in response to homelessness caused by natural disasters in low-income and disaster prone regions.
“The countries that fall in the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s remit have suffered 847 major disasters over the last 28 years, accounting for over 243,000 lives lost,” said Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Chairman of the Executive Committee for AKAH. “As all of us know, these disasters often cause families to lose their most valuable asset: their home. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat was created specifically to find ways to deal with these increasing threats. Its mission is to find innovative ways to address the threat of natural disaster and work to make communities resilient, building on the decades of experience of various AKDN agencies.”
To address the increasing threat posed by natural disasters and climate change, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) works to ensure that poor people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters, that residents who do live in high-risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response, and that these settings enable communities to thrive and lead a higher quality of life.
The home is a critical cornerstone to improve the quality of life of the communities that AKAH serves. His Highness the Aga Khan, speaking in an interview with Henri Weill, of La Cohorte, said, “when we studied the economic development of poor societies, we realised that when poor families manage to put money aside for the first time, they invest in their homes. Often it is a tin roof, running water or a sewerage system. In other words, human beings first look at everything that happens around them and their family. By working on people’s homes, we are working on basic needs and this then has an impact on several generations in the family.”
The design challenge arose when AKAH, as a member of a panel of judges at the World Bank, helped select the challenge team winners in partnership with Build Academy, the GFDRR, Airbnb and UN-Habitat. Over 3,225 professionals from over 160 countries participated in the challenge.
AKAH and the World Bank co-hosted a side-event at the annual World Reconstruction Conference (WRC4) in Geneva (13-14 May 2019) featuring the designs of the nine winners and three honourable mentions.
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat participates in Refugee Emergency Preparedness Exercise in Tajikistan
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 3-4 July 2019 – The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), in partnership with the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence – under the auspices of the Government of Tajikistan – UNHCR, other UN Agencies, government and other humanitarian partners, conducted the second large-scale disaster simulation exercise designed to respond to an emergency situation related to a massive influx of refugees.
The real-time scenarios – with the responders split over three sites – enabled a test of the emergency response capabilities of the Government and associated agencies. The responders were located at the National Emergency Operations Centre, AKAH’s Emergency Operations Centre in the capital city of Dushanbe and a field site 50 km from the EOCs in Karatag of Hissor valley, which served as the hosting and registration site for the refugees. The aim of the simulation was to strengthen the coordination mechanism, build capacity and coordination skills for future responses and identify gaps in response and coordination during emergencies. The first simulation exercise, conducted last year, provided an opportunity for the emergency agencies to address such gaps.
“In 2018, the Government of Tajikistan brought together the International Community and Civil Society agencies in Tajikistan to determine our readiness for a large scale emergency,” noted Hadi Husani, the CEO of AKAH. “What we learned from that exercise, was that the abilities that we have as a unified team, as a partnership of Government Ministries with the agencies of the United Nations, the Aga Khan Development Network and civil society institutions, is that together we can act rapidly and effectively.”
He further noted that all the relevant institutions were able to mobilise resources on the ground, coordinate and collaborate together and build a platform for mutual engagement which supported communities at risk with dignity and professionalism. “As a part of our joint commitment to continuing to build on this Government and Partner platform, we have reconvened this year to build on our learnings from last year and to continue to deepen the systems that we mutually use to bring us together in preparation for any emergency that we might jointly face in the future," added Mr. Husani.
AKAH deployed dedicated Emergency Management Staff, its professionally trained Search and Rescue Team (SART), and provided resources, including 24 tents (donated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Coordination in Tajikistan), a mobile antenna to provide cellular network and internet, non-food items, hygiene kits. The agency also staffed an Emergency Operations Centre to support the National Emergency Response Centre.
The simulation exercise provided an opportunity for AKAH to put into practice the Memorandums of Understanding that have been signed with UNHCR, WFP and other UN Agencies, and AKAH’s longstanding close partnerships with the Government Emergency Response Mechanism.
“Our long-standing collaboration with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat and other international organisations enables us to strengthen the preparedness measures, coordination and response to natural or man-made disasters in Tajikistan,” said Kamolov Jamshed, Head of the Main Department of Population and Territory of the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense of Tajikistan. “This year’s simulation exercise was based on the achievements and learnings of the last year simulation. In addition, we were able to jointly work on the gaps that were identified during the last year event, and came up with the better preparation, response and coordination this year.”
Ms. Rosa Minasyan, Protection Officer, Officer-in-Charge, UNHCR further pointed out that “it is critical that countries facing possible influx follow the lead of governments in countries such as Tajikistan, to work hand in hand with humanitarian actors present in their country, to enhance planning, preparation and better leverage on existing resources”.
Campaigning in schools for better hygiene on Global Handwashing Day
Islamabad, Pakistan, 15 October 2019 - The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), in collaboration with other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, government agencies and voluntary bodies, facilitated events in schools across Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan to celebrate Global Handwashing Day. These activities aimed at raising awareness about healthy and hygienic practices including the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2019 is “Clean Hands for All,” reminding us that the simple message of proper handwashing for better health has yet to be spread to all. In local schools and communities awareness-raising sessions, handwashing demonstrations and school plays have reached around 5,000 students, parents and school faculty.
Children and schools play a key role in spreading greater awareness about health and hygiene. In over 600 communities in Pakistan, AKAH has implemented health and hygiene education through its School Health Improvement Programme, benefitting over half a million people.
Nawab Ali Khan, AKAH CEO stated: “AKAH has reached over half a million people through its health and hygiene education programme focusing on personal, domestic and environmental hygiene and the numbers increase every year. Handwashing is a key component of our health and hygiene programme and this year we are celebrating it as complement to the prime minister’s vision of clean and green Pakistan.”
Meet Asfiyo: A Pamiri woman saving lives through search and rescue
My name is Asfiyo and today I am exceptionally proud to be a part of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) team in Tajikistan as a member of the AKAH Search and Rescue Team. Today I had the opportunity to participate in a very high-profile national exercise where the Committee for Emergencies and Civil Defence for Tajikistan simulated the response to a major earthquake in my hometown of Khorog.
There is no place like home, and my journey with protecting my friends and family began when I joined the AKAH Team as a Community Emergency Response Team member many years ago. I and my fellow team members felt passionately about being on the first line of defence for Khorog in an emergency, leading our neighbourhoods and community to safety in those early hours of an emergency and making sure that everything was in place for when the Government, AKDN and International response took place.
Over the years, training with AKAH and with the Committee of Emergencies we learned so much about what it means to be responsible citizens in our country, and the value of working together as a team with the Government and AKAH to make sure that we are all speaking the same language and working to the same high standards.
As a volunteer I was overjoyed when AKAH gave me the opportunity to join their professional Search and Rescue Team. It has been one of the most demanding jobs I have ever had, physically, emotionally and spiritually, training in high mountain rescue, swift water rescue and all the other skills that are needed in our terrain. Knowing that in what we do, we are representing the AKDN institutions to both the communities and our Government is a tremendous honour and one that none of our team takes lightly. It has made me so proud to see the partnership that has been developing between AKAH and the various government agencies in Tajikistan, particularly the Committee of Emergencies and the geology and environmental protection agencies and the way that this partnership has opened the windows for us on how deeply the Government is working to make our lives better and how much it values our institutions.
Today, as a part of this simulation, I had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the AKAH volunteer teams from Khorog and with the Committee of Emergencies as we simulated a 7.5 earthquake in Khorog. For the first time in my experience we had volunteers, Committee of Emergency Responders, the fire department, security agencies, health and education ministries, AKDN teams and the entire United Nations and NGO teams working together with a common purpose to save lives. I’m proud of our team and I’m proud that the world has the faith in us that it does to be a part of something so important for the country.
Snow Leopard Action Plan at conference hosted by Aga Khan Agency for Habitat
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 29-31 October 2019 - The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) hosted a Conference entitled “Snow Leopard Conservation through Effective Habitat Management”, bringing together over fifty snow leopard experts, scientists, government and non-government organisations
According to the World Wild Fund for Nature, there are about 4,000 snow leopards left in the world and the numbers are declining due to poaching, habitat loss and climate change.
Among the participants were the Committee of Environmental Protection of Tajikistan, Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Association of Hunters of Tajikistan, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP), and other organisations specialised in the study and conservation of snow leopard in Tajikistan.
The event was organised in close partnership with UNDP’s Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Project and enabled the participants to be provided with updates on organisations’ activities in the area of snow leopard protection and get involved in the development of action plan for the snow leopard conservation in Tajikistan.
“It is phenomenal that we are all here today to try to find way forward on this immediate and critical issue. The issue of snow leopard preservation is not the one that can be undertaken by just the government, by just the international community, by just the community in which this animal lives. This can be done together. This is a programme, this is the initiative, the activities that we discuss today will only be successful if we do them together, if we do them with communities, if we look at how to protect the snow leopard population in the habitat in which they live. This is our time to take the knowledge and the goodwill and apply it in a way that meaningfully makes a difference for this dwindling population of snow leopard,” said Mr. Hadi Husani, the CEO of AKAH during his welcoming speech.
Major topics included protection efforts, latest achievements and conservation initiatives of the snow leopard species by environmental organisations, conservationists, and related agencies.
Following the presentations, participants conducted a series of discussions on snow leopard protection, including studies on the ways and methods of reducing human-wildlife conflict, methods of facilitating long-term conservation plans in snow leopard range countries and scientific research methods on protection and conservation of this valuable species and its habitat.
In bringing together representatives of various organisations, the conference determined the extent of local and regional knowledge about the snow leopard population and its conservation and protection approaches. After presentations and discussions, attendees were engaged with the development of an action plan that should be carried out in the next four or five years for the long-term conservation of the big cat. The action plan developed will allow a unified approach in protection and conservation of snow leopard.
The precursor for the conference was the participation of relevant specialist from different government agencies at the 4th GSLEP Steering Committee Meeting in New Delhi through funding support of UNDP/ GEF, where the participants learnt from other snow leopard range countries the best practices and methods of snow leopard population estimation, ways of mitigating the human-wildlife conflict, community based interventions, as well as the learnings on action plan and management plan development. The acquired information and learning were further on used and shared with wider audience during the conference. The main output of the conference is the action plan for conservation and protection of snow leopard and its ecosystem, which will be finalised based on the feedback of all stakeholders and further on submitted for confirmation and approval to the government.
AKAH aims to strengthen sustainable wildlife conservation and enhance habitat management practices through its pilot project entitled “Protecting the Snow Leopard Population Through Effective Habitat Management” under funding provided by the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for Environment (PSAKFE). As part of the project, AKAH conducts awareness raising sessions among communities, fosters network of local volunteers, supports construction works to improve the animal sheds in the villages to protect livestock and informs people about the importance of snow leopard conservation. In GBAO, the project covers Shugnan and Roshtqala districts that are part of the snow leopard ranges in the region.
Improving drinking water in remote areas of Tajikistan
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) partners with State Sanitary Epidemiological and Surveillance Service (SSESS) of Tajikistan
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 8 November 2019 – To improve drinking water supplies, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed today by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the State Sanitary Epidemiological and Surveillance Service (SSESS) of Tajikistan in order to formalise a partnership in the area of water and sanitation management issues.
This collaboration will enhance the control of quality of drinking water in remote areas, which will eventually contribute to health and hygiene of communities and improve their wellbeing, as well as conformity of services provided by AKAH to national sanitary and epidemiological rules and standards.
The initiative will build on the work started under the framework of “Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation Management” (SWSMT) project, funded by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Tajikistan and implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation Tajikistan (AKF,T), in collaboration with AKAH, the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) and the Branch of the Institute of Professional Development (IPD).
SWSMT project ensured uninterrupted clean and safe water supply in Corj village of Roshtqala district of GBAO.
AKDN / Adab Abdulqodirov / MSDSP
Within the framework of the project, AKAH procured a portable/mobile water quality testing laboratory, which enables to test water right at the sources as well as on sites. The results of testing were vetted and verified by SESS of regions, where the project builds drinking water supply systems for the communities. The laboratory serve the country beyond the project as well, whenever it comes to selection of water sources for water supply systems and certification of water quality of identified sources as part of legally required approval processes.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Head of SSESS, Mr. Boynazarov Imbrohim, pointed out the importance of joint collaboration of AKAH and SSESS in the field of sanitary and water quality control saying that “the effective action plan can lead to provision of safe and clean drinking water and decrease in water-borne disease in the targeted areas and the country as a whole”.
“This partnership is a great opportunity for both AKAH and SSESS to join efforts in providing safe, adequate and accessible drinking water to communities through providing reliable water quality services right at the source and on sites,” highlighted Mr. Hadi Husani, the CEO of AKAH Tajikistan.
An in-house water quality testing laboratory was established by AKAH within the framework of SWSMT project to address the lack of reliable rural water quality testing services in GBAO and Eastern Khatlon – main project targeted areas. The laboratory is based on the successful experience of AKAH in northern Pakistan of almost two decades in establishing and maintaining a similar laboratory. AKAH has replicated the approach it used in Pakistan, adjusted it to the country context by closely liaising and coordinating with respective government counterparts. It is aimed at providing reliable water quality testing services to community water management bodies in GBAO and Eastern Khatlon.
Sanitation is a pressing global developmental issue on which the Government of India has been working since the past two decades. In line with Government’s plans, AKAHI has been successfully working in the field of rural water, sanitation and hygiene promotion since 1995, leading to significant improvement in the hygiene standards of people across its project locations. On the occasion of world Toilet day on 19 November 2019, we bring you details of activities done by AKAHI and its impact.
World Toilet Day - Aga Khan Agency for Habitat India’s role in creating sustainable sanitation
Sanitation is one of the most pressing global development issues and is appropriately included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Defecating in open has adverse effects on human health as exposure to water-borne and vector-borne diseases increase manifold. Government of India, over the past few decades, has taken a commitment to improve the overall well-being of citizens by providing them access to safe hygiene and sanitation. In line with Government’s vision of having a healthier nation, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) India has been working in the field of rural water, sanitation and hygiene promotion since 1995.
AKAHI has worked on integrated WASH projects in the states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana and Maharashtra. With Government of India’s Total Sanitation Programme pilot initiative in Gujarat in 1995, AKAHI expanded to other states, including Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana and Maharashtra, integrating them into overall multi-sector community development initiatives by the network agencies.
In Gujarat, AKAHI first implemented the Environmental Sanitation Programme (ESP) from 1995 to 2000. The ESP improved the environmental health of local communities, especially that of women and children, by installing environmental sanitation facilities and village-level water supply infrastructure. AKAHI has been working in Gujarat since 1988 to facilitate enhanced quality of living for society-at-large through appropriate built-environment interventions. It was one of the first agencies to partner with UNICEF for the School Sanitation Programme. AKAHI has also supported housing and sanitation programmes post Gujarat earthquake through a large multi-sectoral programme along with AKDN agencies. AKAHI implemented the Gujarat Environmental Health Improvement Programme (GEHIP) with a focus on behaviour change communication approach, school health promotion, strengthening community institutions and alternative financing options.
In Andhra Pradesh, in response to the Tsunami emergency, AKAHI, along with other AKDN agencies, implemented the “Andhra Pradesh: Post Tsunami Relief to Development Program.” The overall programme goal was to enhance the state of disaster resilience and preparedness among coastal communities affected by the Tsunami. AKAHI facilitated key program objectives: (i) to reduce vulnerability from health and hygiene risks through improvement of environmental sanitation infrastructure; (ii) promoting safe sanitation and public health practices; and (iii) instituting a need-based community health systems approach focusing upon women and children for long term sustainability.
AKAHI has managed to achieve over 95% sanitation coverage in more than 200 villages almost construction of 40000 sanitation units.
Improved 400 school sanitation units leading to access to more than 5000 girls and 5500 boys
Facilitation of 7 village level Waste management interventions.
Developed awareness and handholding support for menstrual health management for 5000 no of adolescent girls and women under productive age group.
AKAHI has also played instrumental role in achieving 100% sanitation coverage of Jamat residing in rural areas of Gujarat, in close partnership with Regional Council in mission-mode.
Acknowledging its contribution in the WASH sector, the Dubai Municipality and UN Habitat awarded AKAHI a Best Practice certificate in 2006.
Using innovation and best practices, AKAH India has also defined a business model for mass production of pre-fabricated sanitation units, which has been identified as ‘innovative design’ by the Government of India.
District Rural Development Agency of three districts of Gujarat ( Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath and Amreli) have appreciated AKAHI’s work is facilitating eradication of open defecation.
1. Amthiben Punjabhai (Sedrana, Gujarat)
Amthiben Punjabhai, one of the beneficiaries from Sedrana, a village in Patan, Gujarat, adds in her own words, “We have both become very old now, despite which, we were forced to starve during the last two monsoons for the fear of walking through water-logged areas for open defecation. We were subsisting only on tea, during spells of inundation last monsoon till AKAH India showed us the path to alleviate this misery, by facilitating the construction of our very own household sanitation unit. Now, my husband and I are saved from the agony of inhumane behaviour meted out by field owners whenever we defaecated in the open. The miseries that we experienced during past monsoons are unforgettable, however, through awareness of the need for safe sanitation, the organisation has emancipated us from these sufferings.”
2. School Health Education Programme (Barpatoli, Gujarat)
Navi Barpatoli Village is situated approximately 10 Km from Rajula town in Amreli district of Gujarat. The village was adopted by AKAHI under the Environment Health Improvement Program that aims to improve the quality of life for the villagers by improving drinking water and sanitation. In 2017, AKAHI initiated the School Hygiene and Education program in the village’s primary school. With the help of School Cleanliness Committees formation, awareness meetings and capacity building for all stakeholders, the school made vast strides in adopting best practices in health and hygiene. It was awarded the Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar by the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training, Amreli District. The award is aimed at recognizing, inspiring and celebrating excellence in sanitation and hygiene practice in schools.
Drones for hazard assessment and disaster management
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) supports the Committee of Emergency and Civil Defense to strengthen existing capacity
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 11-15 November 2019 – A five-day training on the use of hazard assessment and disaster management technologies, including Geographic Information System (GIS) and the application of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), was delivered for the specialists of the Committee of Emergency Situation and Civil Defense (CoES) of Tajikistan by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH).
Considering the geographical complexity and severity of natural disasters in Tajikistan, the use of drones for disaster management is essential for saving lives and rescuing people.
Thirteen staff of CoES actively took part at the two-day theoretical sessions, followed by the two days of practical sessions held at the training centre of CoES. Within the course of the training, the specialists were taught how to use GIS, RS and UAV for hazard assessment, hazard prediction, emergency planning and management and how to make best use of technologies when disaster areas are inaccessible during emergency cases. Developing hazard maps, analysis and interpretation of data obtained from UAV, which are the most important part during emergency cases and emergency response, especially, when it comes to life-saving interventions, was a core part of the training.
Drones can be easily deployed to access hard-to-reach areas. They are utilised for acquiring data during emergencies that is unsafe or impossible for people to carry out. They also provide first responders during emergency cases with opportunities to save time, money and, most importantly, lives.
Taking into account the complexity of the landscape, AKAH initiated the drone training to build the capacity of its specialists on the application of the new technology for disaster assessment, prediction and management efforts. This enabled AKAH to carry out geo-hazards assessments, including assessments of glacial lakes, jointly with oscow State University in GBAO, to identify the level of risk from glacial lakes outburst floods (GLOFs) to communities at-risk and proceed with community-based interventions to enhance their resiliency to natural disasters.
On the fifth day of the training, the Chairman of CoES in Tajikistan, Major-General, Nazarzoda Rustam and the Chief Executive Officer of AKAH Tajikistan, Mr. Hadi Husani, paid a visit to the training centre to witness the drone simulation exercise, conducted by the training participants. During the simulation, participants used the knowledge acquired during the training and applied it in a disaster case scenario, where they used drones to assess the disaster affected area and proceeded with analysis of data and images received from the drone, based on which developed the disaster impacted maps.
The simulation exercise was followed by the question and answer between Mr. Nazarzoda Rustam, Mr. Husani and the training participants on how the information is obtained from drone images, how maps are being created from these images using GIS application and how best to use the data for accelerating the process of emergency response and rescue efforts.
Mr. Nazarzoda Rustam expressed his gratitude for the continuous support provided by AKAH to CoES throughout the long-lasting partnership and emphasised the need to further strengthen this collaboration and address the issues of disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response through joint efforts in the country.
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat partners with the Academy of Science of Tajikistan on best practices in disaster forecasting
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 14 February 2020 - The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the Academy of Science of Tajikistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will facilitate the 6th International Conference “Debris Flow: Disasters, Risk, Forecast and Protection”.
The conference, which will take place in Tajikistan from 21-27 September 2020, will enable national and international scientists and practitioners to share their best expertise and knowledge on ways of studying, assessing and preventing the natural hazards that are causing such a severe impact on the social and economic well-being of people around the globe.
The climate warming issues that started in the last century, continue today and will possibly increase in the near future, are causing an increase in the occurrence of natural hazards, which take a toll on community livelihoods and their habitats, especially in mountainous areas. Snow cover in many mountains is decreasing, affecting runoff, seasonal filling of reservoirs, and aquatic ecosystems. New, unstable natural lakes are forming as a result of glaciers melting in upstream areas (at the margins of glaciers), threatening communities living in the downstream areas with catastrophic flooding.
Tajikistan, as a host country of this important event, is expecting about 150-200 people at the conference. The President of the Academy of Science, Mr. Rahimi Farhod Qodir, and the Chief Executive Officer AKAH in Tajikistan, Mr. Hadi Husani, agreed upon modalities and tasks, roles and responsibilities, in preparation of this important event for the country.
Tajikistan, Switzerland and AKAH launch data sharing platform to provide information on disaster hazards and risks
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 20 February 2020 – The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and its partner the State Agency for Hydrometeorology (Hydromet), with the financial support of the Government of Switzerland, successfully launched the knowledge and data-sharing platform dubbed “Open Centre” today at Hydromet offices in Dushanbe.
Officially known as the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), the “Open Centre” is the third of three facilities that were launched over the past three years beginning in 2017. It was developed to address the important need of access to clear and reliable information on the hazards and risks affecting the country.
The first centre, located at the Department of Geology and funded by the SDC, was put in place to establish the ground for the data-sharing platform. This was scaled up to the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Défense (CoESCD) in 2018, with support from the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and Aga Khan Foundation United Kingdom (AKF UK).
The Centres serve as a connector between three governments departments that are all committed to enhancing access to analytical data to support emergency response in the country. In addition, international organisations, donor agencies, NGOs and other researchers or practitioners in this field will use the service.
Representatives from government, and the local and international development community attended the launch. In his opening remarks, the Head of Hydromet, Rasulzoda Homidjon Hasan, reiterated the importance of the facilities. “Data assessment and analysis will allow stakeholders to be better prepared to manage hazards. It will also serve as information repository, storing data for future generations”.
SDC Country Director Walburga Roos on her part noted, “The SDC’s continuing support to the Centre emphasises how important data is to disaster management, and the plan is to further expand the support to the Academy of Sciences and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point office. This will enable a holistic approach to data management towards risk-informed planning. The ultimate goal of this initiative therefore is to showcase Tajikistan as a best practice case in this area.”
AKAH Tajikistan CEO Hadi Husani joined Mr. Hasan in inaugurating the Centre, and said, “AKAH is committed to working with government and the international community to provide solutions for disaster management. This is just the beginning, and we look forward to seeing how the interlinked centres support the work between these three government departments.”
AKAH and partners launch key infrastructure projects in Tajikistan
Khorog, Tajikistan, 12 May 2020 – The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) in Tajikistan, the Government of Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) and their partners have launched the construction of critical social infrastructure in Khorog Town.
The total of nine infrastructure projects to be constructed include six playgrounds across the town, the #5 secondary school on Saidmir Abdurahmonov Street, a water supply system for the Bizmich settlement, and a riverbank protection in the Sharifobod area. All construction will be undertaken by local employees.
The projects are facilities that have been jointly identified by the local government and the communities in Khorog as essential to providing improved quality of life for residents, under the European Union (EU)-funded Critical Infrastructure to Contribute to Stability and Peace (IcSP).
The head of Furudgoh neighbourhood, Kholiknazarov Okhirnazar, remarked, “Having access to a playground with modern sport facilities will enable youth and children in our neighbourhood spend their free time actively and safely. It will provide a space where we can gather, watch our children play football or other sports, and gives us a sense of real connection and belonging.”
Manzura Bakhdavlatova, AKAH Project Manager, says, “While there will certainly be some challenges ahead due to the ongoing pandemic, we nonetheless look forward to a successful and timely completion as we know that they will greatly improve the lives of the majority of the communities here in Khorog.”
GBAO Governor Yodgor Fayzov, who paid a visit to the site of one of the playgrounds located in the Furudgoh area, commended AKAH, the Aga Khan Foundation and partners for the initiative, as well as the financial support of the EU and the hard work and diligence of the workers present.
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