A new agency, the Aga Khan Agency for the Habitat (AKAH), has been created to expressly focus on built habitat and human settlements in high risk areas. The agency brings together the supra-national capabilities of the Ismaili Imamat’s Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – a constellation of institutions working in complementary and synergistic ways to address the challenges of improving the living condition of marginalized peoples around the world, specifically in Africa and Asia.
AKAH works to ensure that people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters, that residents who do live in such high risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response, and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunities and a better quality of life.
The new agency merges the activities of:
- Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS), with its prize-winning water and sanitation programmes and low-cost habitat products, such as smoke-free stoves;
- the humanitarian arm of AKDN and FOCUS, which promotes disaster mitigation and resiliency and intervenes after disasters;
- the AKDN’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative, which focuses on disaster preparedness in remote areas; and
- the environment- and habitat-related activities of the Aga Khan Foundation, including the Prince Sadruddin Fund for the Environment and the Foundation’s highly regarded rural support programmes.
The programmes of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat have won a number of awards, including:
- 2015 Times of India Social Impact Award (India);
- 2012 Zayed Energy Prize (Abu Dhabi – UAE);
- 2011 Ashden Award (UK);
- 2009 Dubai International Award for Best Practices (UAE);
- 2009 Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Global Leadership Award (Uganda);
- 2009 and 2010 National Energy Globe Award (Czech Republic);
- 2006 Sitara-e-Eisaar (for earthquake relief, Pakistan);
- 2005 ALCAN Prize for Sustainability (Canada); and
- 2006 World Habitat Award (UK).
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali