Aga Khan Foundation
Aga Khan Foundation
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His Highness the Aga Khan, the founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), is the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. For His Highness the Aga Khan, one manifestation of his hereditary responsibilities has been a deep engagement with development for than 60 years.

His Highness the Aga Khan
The Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims in 1957 at the age of 20. Since then, he has dedicated his efforts to improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations, emphasising the view of Islam as a faith that teaches compassion and tolerance and that upholds human dignity.

His Highness the Aga Khan at the University of Ottawa where he was confered the honorary degree Doctor of the University, 13 January 2012.
AKDN / Zahur Ramji
In recognition of his exceptional efforts and contributions to human development and improving the social condition of societies globally, the Aga Khan has, over the last six decades, received numerous decorations, honorary degrees, and awards from institutions and nations across the world.

His Highness the Aga Khan in Paris during his Diamond Jubilee.
AKDN / Zahur Ramji
The Ismaili Imamat is a hereditary office in succession from the first Imam, Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him and his family), who was married to Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, the Prophet’s daughter and only surviving child. His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th Imam in this lineage.

His Highness the Aga Khan grants a second Golden Jubilee Darbar to the Jamat of Gorno-Badakhshan in Porshniev, Tajikistan, December 2008.
AKDN / Akbar Hakim
Reflecting the pluralism of the Muslim world generally, the Ismailis are a richly diverse community within the Shia branch of Islam who belong to distinct ethno-geographic and linguistic traditions. They are united by their belief in a living hereditary Imam of the Time from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him and his family).

AKDN Quality of Life Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Support Unit
The overall goal of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is to improve the Quality of Life (QoL) in the areas where its member institutions work. The Network’s vision and strategies encompass an improvement in material standards of living, health and education, as well as a set of values and norms in the organisation of society, which include pluralism and cultural tolerance, gender and social equity, civil society organisation and good governance. The AKDN therefore has a holistic view of what constitutes progress that goes beyond material benefits or only poverty alleviation, and which encompasses a more rounded view of human experience and aspirations.


AKDN Quality of Life Assessment Programme
In 2007, the Aga Khan Development Network initiated Quality of Life assessments in geographical areas where it undertakes multi-input area development programmes. The assessments help to inform AKDN and its partners of the different ways in which people’s lives are changing, bring attention to the issues that are most important in influencing people’s perceptions of what a good or poor quality of life is, and shed light on how the broad changes that affect a given area over time impact people’s lives.

The QoL assessments also provide the Network with the opportunity to reflect on whether (and how) its programme interventions are contributing to change, and the findings are used to help identify gaps and consider adjustments to programme strategy. In 2014, the QoL Assessment Programme was expanded into the QoL Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) Support Unit with a broader remit to support strategic, mission-oriented MER across the AKDN in addition to conducting QoL assessments.

A QoL Technical Working Group was also established in order to promote coordination and efficiency in MER across the AKDN. The group comprises representatives of AKDN agencies who have knowledge and experience of MER relating to the strategic objectives of their respective agency.

QoL Unit Publications:

Kanji N., Sherbut G., Fararoon, R., and Hatcher J.. 2012. “Improving Quality of Life in Remote Mountain Communities: Looking Beyond Market-led Approaches in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan.” Mountain Research and Development. 32 (3): 353-363.

Sherbut G. and Kanji, N. 2014. “One size does not fit all: Choosing methods to inform area development.” Development in Practice. 23(8): 950-962.

Sherbut, G., Kanji N., and Hatcher J. 2015. “Linking past and future: Cross-border development and quality of life in the Badakhshans.” Central Asian Survey. 34(2): 255-271.

QoL Unit-supported Case Studies:


WENRECo Case Study
WENRECo Case Study
The West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECo), a public-private partnership formed in 2003 by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), invested in a hydropower station that now provides clean, reliable and affordable electricity to Uganda’s Arua district 24 hours a day. This impact assessment, undertaken in 2015, shows positive results in key economic and social development sectors and illustrates how people’s lives have changed for the better as a result of this investment.


PamirEnergy Case Study
PamirEnergy Case Study
PamirEnergy, a public-private partnership formed by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, began exporting energy from Tajikistan to Afghan Badakhshan in 2008. This innovative, cross-border programme continues to bring electricity to an increasing number of communities, many of which had never had access to reliable and affordable energy. This report provides a summary of interviews that were conducted in 2012 to examine the impact of AKDN’s cross-border energy programme on different aspects of people’s lives. Improvements were documented in the following thematic areas: (1) women, workload and home life, (2) health and health care, (3) economic development, (4) education and (5) community life and government. MORE SPOTLIGHTS BY
AGENCY:Aga Khan Foundation
THEMATIC AREA:Agriculture and food security
Since 2017, the conflict in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado has forced over 700,000 people from their homes. Most displaced families have been housed in communities with relatives and friends, or on temporary land loaned by others; however, they were forced to leave their land and belongings behind. Given that most are smallholder farmers, this has meant a disruption to the supply of food and income for many.

With support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Mozambique, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has been working with the Agrarian Institute of Bilibiza at the Ocua Campus to help internally displaced people (IDPs) to identify new sources of food and income, and bounce back from the shocks of recent years.

An example is our support for the establishment of micro-aviaries and poultry associations. We guide associations to identify local material such as bamboo, grass and stakes to repurpose for micro-aviary construction. We then train members in poultry health, aviary management and marketing, key skills to accompany them wherever life takes them next.

Ernestina Constância said: “I joined the group for the opportunity to learn about raising and selling chicken. Today I can do it, even alone, and be able to generate income for myself and my family.”

An association of 16 IDPs received a batch of 450 chickens to start their endeavour. Through the training and mentorship provided, the association was able to sell chickens at a profit and reinvest to increase the number of chickens to 600. For many association members, this has been their first experience of generating income outside of their subsistence farming practices.

More than this, the association has offered a space for people – both host community members and IDPs – to come together, connect and begin to heal after months of trauma and uncertainty.

Helena Fernando Evaristo said: “It is good to participate in this activity because I am busy during the day, I have someone to talk to. I no longer get so isolated thinking about the past and the things I lost where I came from.

I also learned about raising chickens and running the business. When I return to my district, I will be able to continue this business, even alone, and I am also able to work for anyone who has an aviary and earn a salary.”

The creation of micro-aviaries is one of the provincial government’s priorities. They are one of many ways in which we are supporting about 400 community members, including IDPs, to secure critical food and income, and better withstand shocks that the future may have in store.

The Agrarian Institute of Bilibiza aims to strengthen the agricultural sector through training medium-level technicians and entrepreneurs in Cabo Delgado Province. This initiative also improves experiential learning for students and involves them in community engagement, giving them experience in institutional management, land development and sustainable land management, all useful for their careers.One of the key features across ADKN’s programmes and institutions is a dedication to pluralism, the notion of respecting all traditions and cultures and the diversity within those traditions and cultures. As His Highness the Aga Khan stated at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum: “Pluralism is certainly a central component for peace and progress.”

The concept of pluralism also influences how AKDN institutions are designed and built, helping them to fulfil their missions in a more expansive way.

Spanning nearly two decades, the unique design partnership between Pritzker Prize winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki and the Aga Khan Development Network has resulted in a trilogy of signature buildings – The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat (Ottawa, Canada), the Aga Khan Museum (Toronto, Canada) and most recently the Aga Khan Centre (London, UK).

On 19 September 2020, as part of the Open House Festival 2020, Maki and Associates’ lead architect Gary Kamemoto joined the Aga Khan Foundation via webinar to share the fascinating story of how his firm’s partnership with AKDN evolved and took shape. Kamemoto’s presentation provided an in-depth look at the innovative processes and materials used to achieve this trio of iconic and distinct buildings that make up the Maki and Associates and AKDN trilogy.

This webinar was moderated by Victoria Jessen-Pike, an independent consultant who was part of the AKDN Design and Project team in King’s Cross London including the Aga Khan Centre.

Watch the full webinar recordingMORE SPOTLIGHTS BY
GEOGRAPHY:Kyrgyz Republic
AGENCY:University of Central Asia
THEMATIC AREA:Civil society, Education
Is there a connection between gender equality and snow removal in the cities during wintertime? Apparently, in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, on the day of a snowfall, a man is likely to take a car to get to his office, while a woman walks her child to school, helps an elder relative to the hospital or runs to the nearby store. While he moves in a direct line from point A to point B, she often moves in a zigzag pattern. Moreover, because the woman is more likely to use pedestrian roads, she is more likely to experience injury or trauma from falling on a slippery pavement. The current urban planning, possibly unintentionally, prioritises the needs of drivers over pedestrians and the needs of men over women.

Topics like this one are being brought to the table by the University of Central Asia (UCA)’s School for the Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE), which was launched by UCA’s Civil Society Initiative at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.

According to Dinara Musabekova, the director of UCA’s Civil Society Initiative, SAGE plans to support organisations advancing gender equality in the region by helping them with advocacy at multiple levels. This will help promote gender aspects in urban planning, put gender on the political agenda and bring it into legislation.

During 2022, SAGE participants will engage in an advanced advocacy course and educational trips. They will implement their advocacy projects and present the outcomes at the SAGE regional forum. In addition, high-performing graduates will receive small grants to address gender issues in their communities.

The first SAGE virtual workshop took place 7-9 December 2021. It brought together 60 participants from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, countries where women experience inequality when it comes to access to formal employment and income distribution. Participants from diverse walks of life, including representatives of women’s urban and rural NGOs and the mass media, were urged to contribute to changing these inequalities.

SAGE is funded by the Government of Canada, through Advancing Gender Equality through Civil Society (AGECS) under the Foundations for Health and Empowerment (F4HE) programme. AGECS has provided CAD 500,000 (US$ 393,275) to further enable civil society organisations, women's groups and community leaders to advance public goods, especia
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