The European Commission has approved a grant for EUR 25.5 approximately US $ 23 million) to help the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) address rural poverty in central-west India over the next ten years - EUROPEAN COMMISSION AWARDS LARGEST GRANT EV
European Commission Awards Largest Grant Ever Made to Aga Khan FoundationTen year grant will focus on enterprise development for the rural poor in India
Geneva, Switzerland, 6 December 2001 The European Commission has approved a grant for EUR 25.5 (approximately US $ 23 million) to help the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) address rural poverty in central-west India over the next ten years.
Nearly 100 million people, of many faiths and backgrounds, depend on a rapidly degrading natural resource base for their livelihoods in this region,, said Robert Shaw, General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). This grant, the largest we have ever received from a donor agency, will permit us to enhance and protect the livelihoods of the most marginalised rural populations in resource-poor areas.
The European Commission's decision follows the success of an earlier grant, in 1994, for AKF to co-ordinate rural development programmes in Gujarat. AKF, working with partner non-governmental organisations, has 18 years of experience in enabling community-based management of land, water and forest resources to increase the economic well-being of some of western India's poorest people. The Commission's recent report commended AKF's model, which makes village (Gram Vikas Mandal) and women's (Mahila Vikas Mandal) organisations an integral part of development solutions. According to the report, it is the participation in these development activities and the opportunity to benefit from them that provide the incentive for broad-based participation at the outset.
This is an exciting opportunity because not only will we now be able to deepen our programme in Gujarat but we'l also be able to disseminate the lessons more broadly to neighbouring states and beyond,, said David Nygaard, AKF's Director of the Rural Development Programmes. We will also be able to place greater emphasis on economic growth and take the programme into relatively new areas of enterprise development and job creation.
Past European Commission grants have permitted AKRSP in Gujarat to focus on numerous problems of natural resource management, including: efforts to develop new, creative solutions to problems of resource degradation such as soil erosion; the capture and conservation of surface water runoff during the monsoons; the improvement in productivity of low-input, rain-fed agricultural systems; the resolution of conflicts over, and improved productivity of, common property land resources, including forests; and the use of technical innovation to reduce the drudgery of rural life, especially for women, while decreasing the forced seasonal migration of family members, usually men, to urban areas.
Assets are typically built through community management of natural resources - water storage, irrigation infrastructure, soil conservation or forestry - or the construction of basic economic infrastructure, such as rural roads or agricultural storage facilities. Income growth is promoted by increasing agricultural productivity through improved farming methods, input supply, marketing, land development and management reform or by increasing off-farm incomes and supporting enterprise development. Local capital is mobilised by promoting savings and developing financial services to enable broad access to credit on a sustainable basis. Training programmes support the effectiveness and sustainability of the village-level institutions by providing the management and technical skills needed to plan, implement and maintain local development activities.
AKRSP (India) is one of several integrated rural development programmes established or supported by the Aga Khan Development Network in South and Central Asia and Eastern Africa. Similar programmes exist in Bangladesh, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
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The Aga Khan Foundation, which focuses on health, education, rural development and the enhancement of non-governmental organisations, is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Network consists of eight non-profit, non-denominational development agencies. The other agencies are: Aga Khan Health Services, which provides primary and curative health care in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Syria; Aga Khan Education Services, which operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes at the pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary levels in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Tajikistan; the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, which provides material, technical assistance and construction management services for rural and urban areas; and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which focuses on culture as a means to enhance the physical, social and economic revitalisation of communities in the Islamic world. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, a for-profit agency also registered in Switzerland, works to strengthen the role of the private sector in developing countries by promoting entrepreneurial activity and supporting private sector initiatives. Two universities are also part of the Network: Aga Khan University, Pakistan's first private, autonomous university, which is headquartered in Karachi; and the University of Central Asia (UCA), which is the world's first university dedicated exclusively to education and research on mountain regions and societies.
For more information, please visit the website: http://www.akdn.org/
For more information on the rural development programmes In India, please contact:
Aga Khan Foundation (India)
Sarojini House, 2nd floor
6 Bhagwan Dass Road
New Delhi 110 001
Tel: (91 11) 378 2173
Fax: (91 11) 378 2174
To contact the press officer:
The Information Department
Tel: (+33 3) 44 58 40 00
Fax: (+33 3) 44 58 11 14