His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), has made a three-year, $50-million commitment for the AKDN to support rehabilitation, socio-economic development, and earthquake-preparedness in areas of the North West Frontier Province and Azad Jammu and Kashmir affected by the 8 October shock. The announcement was made today by Prince Amyn Aga Khan, brother of His Highness, at an international donor conference, convened by the Government of Pakistan, and attended by President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, and high level delegations from multilateral agencies and more than 56 countries.
The AKDN will provide a combination of financial and technical support and will draw on the extensive expertise and experience of AKDN agencies gained through decades of work with urban and rural communities in high-mountain, seismically sensitive areas in Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. The commitment includes:
Education in land planning, training in seismic-resistant construction, disaster preparedness, and the development of civil society expertise and capacities to improve planning for urban and rural communities, all to optimise the rebuilding of the habitat and to help mitigate the impact of future earthquakes.
Community mobilisation for rehabilitation and socio-economic development.
Training, including in-service training, of health and education professionals to serve remote and isolated mountain communities.
Technical advice and longer-term support for safer and more efficient aerial access to the affected region, including the improvement of the quality of air transport infrastructure, such as helicopter landing pads, approach guidance systems, refuelling bases and maps.
Continued support for access to the affected areas from AKDN’s Pakistan-based helicopters, and others in the region as necessary, whose design specifically enables them to function effectively in high-mountain zones.
The AKDN in India, through the Aga Khan Foundation India, and Focus Humanitarian Assistance India, is also exploring ways it can provide support to affected areas.
“Sadly, earthquakes are inevitable in these high-mountain areas and we must ensure that in rebuilding, we draw upon international best practices to assist communities to plan and construct in better ways than previously, and also to mitigate the effects of any future shocks,” the Aga Khan said in a statement.
“The AKDN will contribute the extensive experience it has gained in recent decades in the mountain zones of the Hindu Kush, Pamirs, and Tien Shan in Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia,” he said. “This includes lessons learned about such issues as the special needs of rural and urban planning in mountain habitats, the development of energy and water sanitation infrastructure and resources, seismic-resistant construction, as well as training and capacity building for disaster preparedness, particularly at the community level.”
The commitment announced today is in addition to the $500,000 donation earlier made by His Highness the Aga Khan to the government of Pakistan for immediate emergency relief following the 8 October earthquake.
Since then, agencies of the AKDN have been heavily engaged in providing humanitarian relief and support, working in close partnership with the Pakistan government, UN organisations, and bilateral and multilateral agencies. More than 1,000 staff and volunteers have been involved.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance, an AKDN affiliate, was among the first local agencies to deploy search and rescue teams, initially to Islamabad, and then to Muzaffarabad and surrounding areas. Focus has carried out evacuation and relief operations in more than a dozen locations in AJK and NWFP, including some of the most remote and difficult-to-access areas. It has delivered food items for more than 70,000 people, has distributed over 1,100 tents, and more than 14,000 blankets, and has evacuated more than 900 casualties from vulnerable locations.
The Aga Khan University, the Aga Khan University Hospital, and the Aga Khan Health Service have provided emergency medical services, including specialised trauma surgery, mass vaccinations, and trauma counselling. Emergency training in basic nursing, basic life support, and basic medical and psychiatric support has also been provided. More than 80 doctors, including physicians, surgeons, paediatricians, anaesthesiologists, and other medical specialists, 40 nurses, and teams of medical technicians, field officers, and medical students have been deployed. Medical and surgical supplies have been provided and are being regularly replenished.
The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service has set up water supply systems as well as temporary housing facilities. It is sharing with the government as well as local and international organisations its experience and expertise in seismic-resistant construction techniques.
Managed by the Aga Khan Foundation’s helicopter wing, four AKDN helicopters, two of which have been deployed to Pakistan from their base in Central Asia, have carried out more than 650 sorties, carrying more than 500 MT of relief and medical cargo, over 3,500 passengers (including villagers requiring evacuation and relocation, government officials, army personnel, aid workers, medical staff, and international diplomatic officials) and more than 1,100 casualties.