Britain and the European Community have signed two separate agreements with Mawlana Hazar Imam, pledging aid of more than Pounds 10 million for Imamat projects in the Chitral district of northern Pakistan.
The first accord was signed by Hazar Imam and the Overseas Development Minister, Mrs. Lynda Chalker, at Lancaster House in London in May.
The other was signed a few days later in Brussels by Hazar Imam and Mr. Abel Matutes, the European Community Commissioner for North-South Relations, as well as relations with Asia.
The British Government is giving Pounds 4.7 million to the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in Chitral.
Mrs. Chalker announced that the Government has also approved a grant of Pounds 1.2 million for the work of the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) in Chitral.
Over the last three years, the Government's Overseas Development Administration has given Pounds 3.8 million to the AKRSP and the AKHS in Chitral.
All Imamat projects there are funded by the Aga Khan Foundation, including the health and education programmes run by the Aga Khan Health and Education Services.
The British and European Community grants will extend the AKRSP project in Chitral from nearly 400 villages to about 600, thereby covering ninety per cent of the district's population by 1996.
Speaking at the Lancaster House ceremony, Mrs. Chalker described the rural support project as a "trailblazer."
She said: "It exemplifies so many of the major concerns of the British aid programme, directly reaching some of the poorest in the country, helping them to establish their own community organisations and to undertake small projects such as irrigation channels and link roads, establishing savings schemes so they can invest in machinery, tools and seed or fertiliser, and offer technical advice and provide training."
The Minister spoke of the programme's particular emphasis on encouraging women to become more active in the development process.
"The project's success is above all due to the participation of the communities themselves in determining their own choice of activities and the way they proceed.
"This is an example of genuine grass roots development, where the ultimate measure of success is the greater control that individuals and communities gain over their own lives."
Hazar Imam, in responding, said that in much of today's approach to development, a vital element was missing - that of access.
"If we are to create an enabling environment in the Third World, we need to combine incentive and access. People need access to opportunity, to choice, to knowledge, to skills and to resources.
"We are searching for ways to enable these people actively to contribute to and to participate in the development process. That is what I mean by the Enabling Environment."
The people of the Third World had great ambitions for what they could do for themselves, Hazar Imam said.
"As incomes begin to rise, the most exciting possibilities are emerging. People are taking responsibility for creating, and paying for, their own social services.
"They are building clinics and schools. And they are insisting on quality in these services - precisely because they are paying for them. These ideas of self-help and community ownership are a new dimension of development."
The European Community grant is for about Pounds 5.5 million for the AKRSP as well as the health and education programmes in Chitral. It's the first major EC grant to an Imamat apex institution.
Hazar Imam thanked the Commission of the European Community and the ODA for co-funding the Chitral programme, and acknowledged the Government of Pakistan.
Source: U. K. Ismaili
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