MAY 22, 1991


On Wednesday, May 22nd, 1991, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Mr. Abel Matutes, the European Community Commissioner responsible for North-South relations, as well as relations with Asia, signed an agreement in Brussels, marking the granting of ECU 8 million ($ 9.3 million) by the Commission for the European Communities (CEC) in support of health, education and rural development programmes in Chitral, Northern Pakistan.

Chitral is one of Pakistan's most remote areas, cut off from the rest of the country for about six months of the year and one of five districts in the north of the country served by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation.

Covering a population of close to one million people, the 1,350 village organisations and the numerous women's organisations of the Rural Support Programme have proven to be especially effective vehicles for poverty alleviation.

The CEC grant will extend the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme's activities in the Chitral district to cover some ninety percent of the population by 1996. The village organisations in the district, growing in number to 600, will provide a range of services, including infrastructural programmes, savings, credit provision, human resource development and technology transfer in agriculture, livestock management and forestry.

These rural development programmes are being jointly funded by the CEC together with the British Overseas Development Administration, to a total of ECU 16 million (US$ 18.6 million).

This new grant, besides being earmarked for the Rural Support Programme, we also fund health activities, including immunization and health education as well as supporting efforts in community-based "self-help" school construction and field based teacher training, all activities sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation and managed by the Aga Khan Health and Education Services.

In outlining the nature of the CEC grant, Mr. Matutes highlighted the fact that as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Aga Khan Foundation with the cooperation of the government of Pakistan would be responsible for the management of the programme of activities where the emphasis is on developing the capacity of the people themselves and where special attention is given to the role of women.

Hazar Imam thanked the CEC and the British Overseas Development Administration for co-funding the Chitral programme and acknowledged the role of the Government of Pakistan in facilitating the cooperation of national and international agencies in contributing to the development of the region. He underlined that the Rural Support Programme has various dimensions. It is designed to develop the ability of the people of this isolated part of the country to generate rapid increases in their productive capacity and assist them in the provision of self-sustaining primary health care and education activities, all of which would enhance the quality of life for the population of the area. The Aga Khan Foundation, a private non-denominational development agency, places particular emphasis on health, education and rural development in low income countries of Asia and Africa. The Foundation is part of a broader international network of social, economic and cultural development institutions which include the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The CEC has collaborated with the Aga Khan network's activities since 1987.

Source: Africa Ismaili (July 1991)

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