A report on projects of AKRSP and methodology - Travel Pakistan

Apr 15, 2001

A report on projects of AKRSP and methodology

1. Introduction to Aga Khan Rural Support Programme
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) was founded in the early 1980s in what is now Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Created by the Aga Khan Foundation, it worked on agricultural productivity, natural resource management, small-scale infrastructure and forestation. Its purpose was to improve agricultural productivity and raise incomes in a very poor, remote and mountainous part of Pakistan. Over the years, it was able to refine a number of best practices, among them a bottom up approach that began with the prioritization of development needs by villagers themselves rather than foreign bureaucrats. The first GM of AKRSP was Shoaib Sultan Khan who later on founded several Rural Support Programmes in different geographical locations of Pakistan and similar initiatives in several South Asian Countries such as India, Bangladesh, and others.
Today, the AKRSPs, as they are known, have grown in size and number. They now operate        in            11 countries: Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mali,Mozambique, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan and Tanzania.
2. Aga Khan Foundation
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is a private, not-for-profit international development agency, which was founded in 1967 by theAga Khan. AKF seeks to provide long-term solutions to problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and ill health in the poorest parts of South and Central Asia, Eastern and Western Africa, and the Middle East. In these regions, the needs of rural communities in mountainous, coastal and other resource-poor areas are given particular attention. The Foundation's activities often reinforce the work of other sister agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, or the AKDN. While these agencies are guided by different mandates pertaining to their respective fields of expertise (the environment, culture, microfinance, health, education, architecture, rural development), their activities are often coordinated with one another in order to "multiply" the overall effect that the Network has in any given place or community. AKF also collaborates with local, national and international partners in order to bring about sustainable improvements of life in the 19 countries in which it works. The Foundation's head office is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
2.1 Areas of focus
The Foundation concentrates its resources on selected issues in health, education, rural development, the environment and the strengthening of civil society. Seeking innovative approaches to generic problems, it tries to identify solutions that can be adapted to conditions in many different regions and replicated.
Cross-cutting issues that are also addressed by the Foundation include human resource development, community participation, and gender and development.

2.2 Funding and grant making
The Aga Khan Foundation is the principal grant-making agency for social development within the Aga Khan Development Network. The Foundation has a sharply defined funding strategy, and its standards are, of necessity, high. Grants are normally given to local organizations interested in testing new solutions, in learning from experience and in being agents of lasting change. These organizations must share the Foundation's and AKDN's goals in their specific areas of focus. If no established group exists, the Foundation occasionally creates new organizations to tackle particularly important problems.
The Aga Khan provides the Foundation with regular funding for administration and new programme initiatives as well as contributions to its endowment. The Ismaili communitycontributes volunteer time, professional services and substantial financial resources. Other funding sources include income from investments and grants from government, institutional and private sector partners - as well as donations from individuals around the world.
2.3 Geographic focus
The Foundation normally intervenes where it has a strong volunteer base. It is currently active in the following countries:
·         Afghanistan
·         Bangladesh
·         Canada
·         Egypt
·         India
·         Kenya
·         Kyrgyzstan
·         Madagascar
·         Mozambique
·         Pakistan
·         Portugal
·         Switzerland
·         Syria
·         Tajikistan
·         Tanzania
·         Uganda
·         United Kingdom
·         United States of America

3. Aga Khan Development Network
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of development agencies with mandates that include the environment, health, education, architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities. AKDN agencies conduct their programmes without regard to faith, origin or gender.

3.1 Agencies
·         AKA        Aga Khan Academies
·         AKAM     Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance
·         AKES      Aga Khan Education Services
·         AKF        Aga Khan Foundation
·         AKFED   Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
·         AKHS     Aga Khan Health Services
·         AKPBS   Aga Khan Planning and Building Services
·         AKTC     Aga Khan Trust for Culture
·         AKU       Aga Khan University
·         FOCUS  Focus Humanitarian Assistance
·         UCA       University of Central Asia


 3.1.1 Aga Khan Academies (AKA)

Aga Khan Academies (AKA)The conviction that home-grown intellectual leadership of exceptional calibre is the best driver of society's future development led His Highness the Aga Khan to found an integrated network of residential schools in Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East, known as the Aga Khan Academies.

3.1.2 Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM)

Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM)The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) is a not-for-profit, non-denominational, international development agency created under Swiss law. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board is His Highness the Aga Khan.

3.1.2 Aga Khan Education Services (AKES)

Aga Khan Education Services (AKES)Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) currently operates more than 250 schools and advanced educational programmes that provide quality pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher secondary education services to students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya,Uganda, Tanzania, and Tajikistan.


3.1.3 Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)

Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is a non-denominational, international development agency established in 1967 by His Highness the Aga Khan. Its mission is to develop and promote creative solutions to problems that impede social development, primarily in Asia and East Africa. Created as a private, non-profit foundation under Swiss law, it has branches and independent affiliates in 19 countries. It is a modern vehicle for traditional philanthropy in the Ismaili Muslim community under the leadership of the Aga Khan.

3.1.4 Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)

Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) is an international development agency dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and building economically sound enterprises in the developing world. AKFED focuses on building enterprises in parts of the world that lack sufficient foreign direct investment. It also makes bold but calculated investments in situations that are fragile and complex.

3.1.5 Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS)

Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS)With community health programmes in large geographical areas in Central and South Asia, as well as East Africa, and more than 200 health facilities including nine hospitals, the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) is one of the most comprehensive private not-for-profit health care systems in the developing world. Building on the Ismaili Community's health care efforts in the first half of the 20th century, AKHS now provides primary health care and curative medical care in Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Pakistan, and Tanzania, and provides technical assistance to government in health service delivery in Kenya, Syria and Tajikistan.

3.1.6 Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS)

Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS)The Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS) works to improve the built environment, particularly housing design and construction, village planning, natural hazard mitigation, environmental sanitation, water supplies, and other living conditions. AKPBS achieves these goals through the provision of material and technical assistance and construction management services for rural and urban areas.

3.1.7 Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)

Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalisation of communities in the Muslim world. It includes the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, theMusic Initiative in Central Asia, the on-line resource ArchNet, and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

3.1.8   Aga Khan University (AKU)

Aga Khan University (AKU)Aga Khan University (AKU) provides post-graduate training of health service professionals, teachers and managers of schools, and the development of research scholars. It was granted its charter in 1983 as Pakistan's first private, autonomous university. It operates five campuses and three teaching sites. It offers academic programmes in five countries: Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

3.1.9 Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS)

Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS)Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international group of agencies established in Europe, North America, South and Central Asia to complement the provision of emergency relief, principally in the developing world. It helps people in need reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid and facilitates their transition to sustainable self-reliant, long-term development. Focus Humanitarian Assistance is affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions, for people of all faiths and origins, in specific regions of the developing world. Underlying the establishment of FOCUS by the Ismaili Muslim community is a history of successful initiatives to assist people struck by natural and man-made disasters in South and Central Asia, and Africa.

3.1.10   University of Central Asia (UCA)

University of Central Asia (UCA)The University of Central Asia (UCA) was created to offer an internationally recognized standard of higher education in Central Asia and create knowledgeable, skilled and creative graduates who will contribute leadership, ideas and innovations to the transitioning economies and communities of the region.
4. Major Projects in Pakistan
There are hundreds of thousands of projects which Aga Khan Development Network has completed all over the world. We are going to list some of the major projects which they have completed in Pakistan.
·         First Microfinance Bank Pakistan
·         Microfinance for Women in Northern Pakistan
·         Collaboration between Government and Civil Society Organisations
·         Collaboration between Local Government and Village Organisations
·         Research Report: The State of Civic Education in Pakistan
·         Self-Assessment Tool for Local Support Organisations in Northern Areas and Chitral
·         AKDN Civil Society Programme - Pakistan
·         Baltistan & Hunza - Conservation and Development Projects
·         Conservation and Development in Hunza and Baltistan
·         Shigar Fort Residence - Baltistan

5. Excellence in Education all over the world
The Aga Khan Academies will form an integrated network of schools, to be located in Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East, providing a rigorous international standard of education combined with structured leadership-development and service experiences from pre primary to upper secondary levels. The Academies aspire to develop home-grown intellectual talent of exceptional caliber – boys and girls of great integrity, understanding and generosity of spirit who will become the men and women who will be leaders of their professions and who will build and lead institutions of civil society. The Aga Khan Academies are founded on the premise that a school must prepare a graduate not only for his or her first job, but for a life of inquiry, earning and service.
Whereas rote learning may prepare students for jobs that currently exist, an Academy education goes further to teach young men and women the art and science of thinking, to prepare them to successfully grasp opportunities in a constantly changing world. Students and teachers at each Aga Khan Academy will contribute to and learn from the diverse members of this global network of Academies. Students of promise, good character and serious intent will be selected regardless of their families’ ability to pay. Educators will be selected on the basis of their commitment to the all round development of students and their own continued professional growth.

5.1 A Rigorous Academic an d Leadership-Development Experience
The educational programme of the Aga Khan Academy strives to create skilled learners and ethical leaders who will go on to the best universities anywhere in the world, pursue careers of their choice, and build and lead the institutions of civil society in their countries and across the globe. Education at the Aga Khan Academy will be enriched by unique academic, co-curricular and international travel and study programmes.

The Academy network is supported by linkages with some of the most progressive schools and top tertiary institutions worldwide. These partnerships contribute to the quality of the curriculum and professional development programmes, ensuring that the Academies sustain and enhance their international standing. The Academies will offer a broad, multidisciplinary education, centred on the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes.

The Academies will provide an education that fosters multilingualism, starting with a policy of dual-language instruction in the Junior School, with English as the lingua franca across the network of Academies combined with local language instruction at each Academy, thus bridging the global with the local. Areas of study will include traditional subjects – language and literature, foreign languages and cultures, mathematics, social sciences, the humanities (with attention on local cultures and heritage), experimental sciences, technology and the arts – as well as projects that transcend individual disciplines, where students will acquire skills in context and explore important and relevant issues. The Academies’ curriculum will emphasise pluralism, ethics, global economics, the broad study of world cultures (including Muslim civilisations) and comparative systems of government. The residential experience, characterised by learning and growth, stimulated by the constant interaction among faculty and student peers of great talent, character and leadership, will provide another significant educational advantage and greatly extend and enrich the overall educational experience. Meal times and other informal gatherings will offer opportunities for discussion, meetings, language tables and study groups. Sports and other extra-curricular and service activities will foster the development of leadership, team spirit, self-esteem and self-discipline.

5.2 Investing in Teachers
The Aga Khan Academies have a dual mission: to provide an outstanding education to  exceptional students from diverse backgrounds and to model and disseminate highly effective educational practice. One of the distinguishing features of the network of Aga Khan Academies is the Professional Development Centres (PDCs) located within each of the Academies. The PDCs will be dedicated to training new teachers to the highest standards while offering veteran teachers the opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of education through research and practice.
he PDCs will offer a broad programme of professional development for faculty and staff, including interactive learning techniques and student-centred teaching methods. In addition, the PDCs will be interconnected through state-of-the-art information technology which will allow teachers to collaborate, share best practices and teaching resources. Through similar linkages with universities across the globe, the PDCs will support faculty research aimed at creating new knowledge about teaching and learning. These programmes will be available both to the Academy’s faculty and staff and to the faculties of government and other schools.

The PDCs’ objectives are to set a high standard of instruction at the Academies, while also deepening the pool of well-trained teachers regionally. By doing so, the PDCs aspire to raise the status of the teaching profession, thereby creating conditions for increasing numbers of talented people to be drawn to the profession. A programme of international teacher exchanges and collaboration \ within the network of the Academies and with partner institutions will play an important role in the professional development of teachers, especially in terms of their own abilities to promote multi-cultural, pluralistic learning communities.

As members of a global network, students and faculty of the Aga Khan Academies will be able to simultaneously pursue two important but sometimes divergent goals. Students and faculty will come to understand and appreciate the diversity of the world, its people and cultures; yet as they move among campuses within the network, they will find the same essential values and a consistent standard of excellence in education.

5.3 Planning the Network of Academies
The first campus, the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya, was inaugurated by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, the President of Kenya, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan as a day school in December 2003. Construction of the residential  facilities has followed, making it possible for students from outside Mombasa to enroll. As the first Aga Khan Academy to be built, the Mombasa Academy has been a test bed for the development of the overall programme. Results have been promising. International examinations place the school in the top tier for academic performance world-wide. Students enjoy a vibrant programme of athletic and extra curricular activities that contribute to their personal growth. Teachers and students are actively engaged with local communities through an extensive service programme – this is a cornerstone of the Academy’s ethical framework.  A second Academy opened in August 2011 in Hyderabad, India. With the Mombasa campus flourishing, Hyderabad taking its first steps and foundation-stone ceremonies completed on several sites, efforts are now underway to create a critical mass in the number of campuses that will allow students and faculty to experience the benefits of this global network. These benefits will include opportunities for students to collaborate and study at another campus; faculty to teach at other campuses and, with their families, engage in new cultures; collaboration amongst faculty across the network to develop curricula and share best pedagogical practices; and the streamlining and centralising of some administrative and institutional-research functions. Students and faculty entering an Aga Khan Academy in their home countries will be joining an exceptional and unique global learning community. Establishing that community across borders is a critical phase in the development of this programme. Land for future Aga Khan Academies has been made available or procured in a number of countries; in others, possibilities are being actively pursued.  Extensive research to understand each country’s educational environment has been completed. These research studies establish a broad foundation of knowledge about each country’s multi-year development plans and their human-resource capacity implications; the quality and typical career paths of the teaching force; student demographics; university entrance requirements; and the attitudes and expectations of parents and teachers towards education, including the Aga Khan Academies programme. Concurrent with these studies and the acquisition of sites for future Academies, unique elements of the Aga Khan Academies education are also being developed tested and refined. These include methods of identifying talented students; admissions and financial aid processes that maintain a high level of integrity; faculty selection and professional development processes that are effective; and curriculum development. Once a critical mass of campuses is operating and educational and administrative benefits are being realised across the network, the planning focus will shift to completing the full network of Academies.

5.4 Architecture, Landscape and Campus Design
A team of educational specialists from amongst the best institutions worked with Sasaki Associates of Boston, USA, to develop the principles and guidelines for campus planning. Each Aga Khan Academy campus will be designed by a renowned architect. Extensive surveying combined with topographical, geotechnical and climatic studies allow site planners and architects to optimize the use of the outstanding sites. Each campus will express its own character and reflect its own culture. The buildings and spaces of the Academy will seek to provide an aesthetically well-conceived environment conducive to reflection, to study and enjoyment within an appropriate cultural context. The campus and its facilities aspire to educate the eye of Academy students and faculty to the standard of excellence equal to the best in the world. Every building constructed, every tree planted is expected to be an expression of the overarching vision of excellence.
The Academy Building will house the Senior School library, computer and information technology labs, seminar rooms and study space, as well as the admissions and administration offices. The academic programme at each Aga Khan Academy will be characterized by active student participation rather than passive listening and watching. Educational strategies of cooperative, project-based and interdisciplinary learning require students to move about, work in groups of various sizes and be active. Celebration of student work through display and presentations are integral to this approach. The Commons will house the dining hall and an array of spaces for school activities. It will also serve as the Academy’s main space for major school functions, including music and drama performances and public lectures. The academic buildings of the Junior Academy will include the Nursery School (ages 3 to 5, grades K1-3) and the Primary School (ages 6 to 12, grades 1-6). The Senior School (ages 12 to 18, grades 7-12) will include classrooms, laboratories and seminar rooms arranged to support team-teaching and interdisciplinary work.

Common spaces: These areas will be devoted to activities outside the formal curriculum, such as dance, music, debating and art, activities that foster confidence and leadership and create a lively and cohesive student body in which relations among students of different backgrounds, ethnicities and identities are respectful and congenial.
Residential space: Each Academy will become a full residential campus with housing for students, teachers and administrators. Students will live in safe, house-like clusters of 24 to 48 students closely supervised by a number of faculty in residence. The density of students and faculty in residence is by design: a central tenet of the Academy is that student-faculty interaction greatly enriches learning.
Sports facilities: Space for athletics will reflect local sports preferences and include fields and courts for football, cricket, hockey, basketball, badminton, volleyball, a running track and swimming pool. Certain sports will be offered with instruction from high quality specialized coaches. The Athletics Centre will be used for aerobics, dance and fitness activities. Separate boys’ and girls’ changing rooms will be built.

5.5 The Graduate
Time and again, His Highness the Aga Khan has underlined the importance of three concepts he sees as essential to creating, stabilising and strengthening democracies around the world: meritocracy, pluralism and civil society. Tied to those core values and central to the Academies’ proposition is the view that educating effective future leaders in a rapidly changing world requires the development of individuals possessing a strong ethical orientation, agile and adaptable minds, pragmatic and cooperative temperaments and a capacity for intellectual humility. These are concepts and values the network of Academies will strive to instill in its students – concepts and values they will embody and carry with them throughout their lives. Students from the Aga Khan Academies are expected to become:
Stewards who are motivated to leave the world a better and more peaceful place;
Inquirers who are curious, independent learners;
Knowledgeable across a range of disciplines and traditions;
Thinkers who are critical and creative, who make reasoned, ethical decisions;
Communicators who express ideas confidently and creatively, orally and in writing, in at least two languages and through art and music;
Principled young people with a strong sense of integrity, honesty, fairness and justice, who respect the dignity of individuals, groups and communities, and who take responsibility for their own actions and their consequences;
Open-minded young people who understand and appreciate their own personal histories and cultures while recognising and valuing pluralism;

Caring people who are empathetic and compassionate and respect others’ needs and feelings while also being personally committed to making a positive difference in the lives of others and the environment;
Confident learners who approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought -- independent spirits who are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs; Balanced young men and women who understand the importance of maintaining personal well-being and physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional balance for themselves and others; Reflective individuals who give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and personal development and are able to productively analyse their own strengths and limitations; and Leaders who perceive and anticipate needs and problems locally and globally; who are able to motivate themselves and others to tackle those problems, confidently and in a spirit of cooperation. The extraordinary efforts expended in planning the network of Academies – beginning with a thorough understanding of each country and its educational context, to the development of a rigorous and relevant curriculum and residential programme, to the creation of special centres and a rich programme for the professional development of teachers, to the thoughtful development of student selection and financial-aid policies, to the care to make optimal use of land on each site, to the intelligent and creative design of the campuses – are all motivated by the mission of transformation. We believe an education within the global network of Aga Khan Academies has the potential to transform students’ lives, the lives of their families, their communities and society. 

6.  Major Achievements

         4400 Village and Women Organizations with 161,700 thousand members representing 78% of all households
         24, 563 men and women trained in a wide range of skills including NRM and vocational skills

         2,911  community infrastructure projects with a total investment of Rs 1.179 mil benefiting 245,835 households
         All projects are run and maintained by communities
         240,273 hac of existing and new land irrigated/developed
         Ashden Award for pioneering work in community managed hydels
         43 million forest and fruit trees planted and 1,479 private nurseries established
         953,637 kgs of improved crop seed supplied
         724,016 poultry birds and 6,833 improved breeds of livestock supplied
         Total saving of V/WOs  Rs 500.53 million
         1822 million micro loans disbursed with a recovery rate of 98%
         921 viable enterprises supported; over 5000 entrepreneurs trained
         Establishment of the First Microfinance Bank in private sector
         9 Rural Support Programs in Pakistan
         8 RSPs under AKDN across Asia, Africa and the Middle East
         Core values such as ‘community participation’ and ‘community development’ internalized by various government and non-government programs

7. Methodology of projects and community involvement in Gilgit-Baltistan

AKRSP, in its years of operation, continues to be an effective instrument to improve community productivity and family welfare in Pakistan's Northern Areas and Chitral. Improvements have resulted from the program's interventions in productive investments, in production-support investments, such as access roads, in training, and in financial and technical services. A key element has been institutional development at the village level—village organizations (VOs) and women's organizations (WOs)—which has provided the framework to organize the energies of community members to avail themselves of outside assistance, as well as to direct their own resources into more productive endeavors.
Not all of the positive changes that have accrued in the Northern Region are due to AKRSP. Many non-program  investments and activities have contributed to development, a prime example of which is the Karakoram Highway. Other government and nongovernment investments and services have played a role in social and economic change. Nevertheless, AKRSP has demonstrated that an external agent can facilitate the organization of communities to develop their own self-help capability, provided that the agent has the appropriate strategy and the facilities and staff to implement it effectively.
AKRSP has reached a stage where it needs to take a hard look at where it stands vis-à-vis development in the north, and what its future role should be in attaining its objectives of sustainable and equitable development. The rural population's participation in VOs is already very high in the district of Gilgit, where nearly three-quarters of households are members, and in Chitral and Baltistan, where about two-thirds of households claim VO membership. In the remaining parts of these regions and in the district of Astore, which was only recently included in the program, there is still opportunity to continue and expand the traditional AKRSP activities. However, in districts where AKRSP has been active for longer periods, a different set of issues needs to be addressed, namely, how to:
  • ensure that the savings and credit mechanisms are sustained after AKRSP;
  • strengthen village and women's organizations so that they can function as semi-permanent entities for the good of all community households;
  • organize and fund further major productive and social infrastructure, which is still sorely needed;
  • manage natural resources to realize their potential in contributing to sustainable development; and
  • Stimulate local entrepreneurial capacity to enhance the area's economy.
These issues gave rise to the appointment of a Strategy Development Committee (SDC) in 1992 to assist the owners and board of AKRSP in defining the appropriate future direction and scope of the program. The OED evaluation mission examined these same issues and the committee's proposals, which were being finalized at the time of the mission. The evaluation also reviewed the program's impact to date, and the efficiency and effectiveness of its various development instruments.

7.1 LSO (Local Support Organization)
LSO is an alliance or federation of village and women organizations (V/WOs) and other civil society organizations at valley or union council level, formed by dedicated volunteers, both men and women and run by a slim professional management under the guidance of AKRSP.

7.1.1 How the LSO Story was evolved?
Since its inception in December 1982, AKRSP has focused on social mobilization through institutional actions, by fostering local receiving mechanisms in the form of informal Village and Women Organizations (V/WOs) as a key driver to catalyze self-governance and sustainable local development, at the grassroots levels. Fostering over 4,663 V/WOs, in over 1,000 villages covering more than 100,000 households, with almost 85% coverage in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, this peoples’ movement led by social activists, has indeed created a critical mass of social capital, which was largely instrumental in rapidly transforming the lives and livelihood of the rural households in the programme area. The key instruments of social mobilization were; organization, skill and capital formation (Tanzeem, Hunar and Bachaat), which became a household motto, in the 80s and 90s. Infact, the values of self-reliance, self belief and self autonomy helped in creating hope, trust and confidence contributing to doubling the per capita income at household levels and reducing extreme poverty, the incidence of which was reported over 80% in the program area, when AKRSP started. The rural poor was able to generate surplus food, surplus income and skilled labour, which the households invested in educating their children, getting access to basic healthcare, nutrition and improving their housing and living conditions. All this was supplemented and complemented through a program model based on integrated concepts and investments in micro infrastructure, natural resource management, micro-credit and savings, enterprise promotion, women development. Over the years, due to multiple factors including changes in demography, increased investments by public and private sectors, especially in physical communication, transportation and telecommunication sectors, enhanced border trade, tourism and business opportunities and investments in social development, community-based development by the non-profit sector, the traditional isolation, inaccessibility and constraints at village levels were abridged, though new challenges and opportunities have emerged at a higher spatial scale; union council, municipality, tehsil and district levels, which would require new kind of institutional responses and processes. While there was a need to consolidate and strengthen the V/WOs and other civil society groups at the village levels, there emerged a need to facilitate alliances and federations of such village level actions and linked to a second tier of institutions at the UC level, providing a harmonization and synergistic relationship between the various actors; public, civil society and the private sectors, playing role of service mediation, communication and coordination and in developing an integrated development vision at the UC level, driven by collective wisdom and actions of local people, as against capturing of resources and decision making by few vested interest groups or through top down public sector planning at federal and provincial levels. The Local Support Organizations (LSOs), as federations or alliances of V/ WOs, are therefore, fostered to respond to these challenges and to build on the emerging opportunities. The objective was to support localized permanent, professional and formal institutional support mechanisms at micro area levels that are able to promote and strengthen the V/WOs and having the capability to forge partnerships with government, private sector and with development agencies on their own. The major attribution of these LSOs is its institutional membership of the grassroots institutions and its hybrid character in terms of having a volunteer board and a small professional management team. As of now, AKRSP experimented 58 LSOs throughout the programme area; Gilgit, Baltistan and Chitral, having 3,599 member organizations and 132,353 memberships.

7.1.2 Major Functions of LSOs
• serve as catalyst organisations to assist V/WOs in the identification of opportunities and promote equitable and sustainable development;
• mobilise human, financial, and material resources to enable local people to make full use of the opportunities available in the area;
• develop local capacities in managerial and technical skills through participatory training programmes;
• help link community organisations with government agencies, NGOs, 09 donor agencies, financial institutions, and private businesses to access services, such as extension, training, finance, and marketing, to support local development initiatives; work with community organisations, • relevant government agencies, and civil society, development and conservation agencies etc., to develop plans and programmes for the sustainable use and management of natural resources in their areas of operation; and
• pay particular attention to opportunities and community needs by involving women and the poorest, in their own development, within the social and cultural context The institutional sustainability of the LSOs is linked to the increased ownership and participation of youth in these community institutions, mobilization of local human, physical and financial resources, and developing and retaining hard core activists and young professionals to lead these institutions with professional integrity, financial prudence and providing demand-led services to primary target groups, and finally, continuing education support program to guide, train and act as ‘knowledge catalyst’ on permanent basis.

7.1.3 Regional Distribution of LSOs
The total number of AKRSP fostered LSOs in GBC are 58, of which 29 LSOs are in Gilgit, 15 in Baltistan and 14 in Chitral region.

7.1.4 Year of Formation
Maximum numbers of LSOs have been formed during 2005 to 2007, after the initiation of the IDPR phase. Four organizations were already working before the IDPR phase which was later incorporated as LSOs. These included Village & Women Organisation Development Company, Sangam LSO, Rakaposhi Development Organization and Dubani Development Organization.

7.2 Program impact
Comprehensive household income surveys, undertaken for the first time in 1992, do not provide a basis for an overall quantitative assessment of the program's impact on the targeted population. However, AKRSP has intensively monitored the implementation of its development instruments and undertaken numerous studies to evaluate their effectiveness. This and secondary data provide a reasonable basis for program evaluation.
Average household income appears to have almost doubled in real terms during the program implementation period. The basic production system of most households, which is a mixture of agricultural/livestock production and off-farm, often nonagricultural, use of family labor, has not changed. However, agriculture is still usually the major source of household income, and improvements in agriculture have made a major contribution to income improvement. AKRSP has been a partner in this agricultural development.
The land area under cultivation has substantially increased due to productive physical infrastructure projects (PPIs), which have enhanced the supply of irrigation water. This has been important for the expansion of cash crops such as fruit trees and vegetables, and also for forestry, which has a longer-term benefit, and alfalfa as a fodder crop for livestock production. The enhanced ability to procure inputs and dispose of outputs through program services and improved village access has complemented the improvement in the resource base, resulting in greater productivity and lower unit costs of production.
Credit has been made easily accessible so that households have been able to purchase more production inputs and hold onto produce when prices are low. The women members of households have benefited from special programs through WOs, including vegetable and small-scale poultry production, and have realized a degree of independence by having their own personal savings accounts.
However, not all program activities have been equally successful, and major adjustments need to be made to improve the effectiveness of some development instruments. Also, the persistence of the typical household economy model, in which nearly half of the income is non-farm related, emphasizes the need to examine longer-term prospects and opportunities in designing support strategies.
7.3 Equity issues
The Gilgit region has more complete coverage than other areas, which is largely related to its longer period of program participation. It also has more economic development, but this can be linked to its location, which provides more opportunities than the other regions. However, overall, AKRSP appears to be substantially meeting its objective of distributing development opportunities equitably among regions, communities, and households. This does not mean that benefits have been distributed equally. Rather, it means that differences can be largely explained by variations in the level of resources available to, and in the initiative of the leadership within, a community or household.
AKRSP aims at (a) Improving the welfare and income of the majority of households, (b) ensuring that its grant and any subsidized support are, indeed, equitably distributed, and (c) undertaking specific programs targeted to improve the conditions of those who appear unable to benefit from available opportunities without special assistance. Performance is satisfactory in all three functions, and the women's program is an example of the latter function. However, continued vigilance is required in monitoring this aspect of AKRSP support within communities.
The PPIs in communities are often land-based (for example, irrigation channels and new crop land) and are distributed equally to all landholders, with favorable effects on resource distribution. However, although the Northern Region is unique in Pakistan in that virtually all rural households who rely on income from agriculture actually own land, situations could arise in which poorer households do not own land and do not share in land-based PPI benefits. Such situations would require special interventions to realize AKRSP's equity objective. Similarly, the uptake of services also warrants careful monitoring to ensure that those with more resources do not capture an inappropriate share.
Within households, despite the creation of women's organizations and significant advances in a targeted program to assist members, it has been more difficult to effectively provide equal opportunities to all women. Illiteracy and religious and cultural factors inhibit change in the traditional role of women, more so in some locations than others, and the program has to be realistic in estimating the pace at which change can be achieved. Nevertheless, programs should be carefully designed and monitored to be responsive to these constraints wherever this is feasible. More targeted programs may be warranted to reach the less fortunate women in communities.
7.4 Village organizations
There is a growing realization of the value of the village organization concept. The government of Pakistan has agreed to use the village organizations as the instrument to channel its national Social Action Program in the Northern Areas; the chief secretary of the Northern Areas has instructed line departments to maximize use of village organizations in implementing government programs; and the government recently used the VOs and AKRSP to distribute rehabilitation funds following the disastrous rains of 1992. Many village organizations have been in existence since 1982 and 1983, and it could therefore be expected that they have matured into stable self-sustaining entities if the program's objective of developing self-help institutions is realistic. In practice, there are many that now exhibit these characteristics, especially in some areas of Gilgit region, but successful VOs are also found in the other two regions. However, the majority still need assistance if they are to realize their potential.
Improving the skills of individuals and the leadership in VOs will help, but the most important factor determining their future will be a perception in the community that the VO will continue to provide significant benefits that are not likely to be obtained by other means. The initial benefits have been very obvious, but the task is now to verify and demonstrate that the longer-term benefits of continuing with the institution are worthwhile. Advantages could be in the form of (a) more effective interaction with outside agencies to acquire benefits and services for the majority, (b) greater access to capital resources for productive or consumptive use through sustainable savings and lending arrangements, (c) organization of the use and maintenance of common and shared property, and (d) provision of a mechanism for resolving internal or inter-community disputes.
An important development has been the links encouraged by AKRSP between the village organizations and outside agencies to allow VOs to capture more development and social services. To fully realize this potential, however, AKRSP will have to be perceived as having no biases and as providing no preferential treatment to any particular area, sect, or type of community. Despite the potential advantages of these links, it should not be assumed that a government agency can simply substitute for a nongovernmental organization like AKRSP in implementing effective dialogues and action programs with communities through the VO. It is likely that AKRSP will have to provide training to relevant government agencies if this mechanism is to be used effectively.
To date, the program has not encouraged the formalization of the village organizations' status to maximize community perceptions that VOs are their own institutions. However, in view of the VOs' emerging role as partners in government investment programs, and as entities involved with the proposed Northern Region Development Bank, it appears necessary that consideration now be given to the adoption of some legal or quasi-legal structure.
7.5 Productive Physical Infrastructure Program
The PPI program has had a substantial economic development impact and has been very effective in providing the basic incentive for communities to form village organizations and enter into development partnerships with AKRSP. However, the program has slowed down in recent years, especially in areas that have had longer exposure to AKRSP activities. Although many VOs have been able to avail themselves of additional investment support from AKRSP by being involved in multi-community "cluster" projects and by participating in such programs as forestry development contracts, the policy has been to limit the PPI grant to a single investment. This is consistent with the objective of fostering a self-help attitude and avoiding the dependency syndrome. However, there is obviously a big potential to accelerate development by more infrastructural investment. This is especially so for irrigation development, as this not only expands the productive resource base, but also allows the use of higher value crops, both of which have demonstrated their contribution to program benefits.
This suggests that AKRSP should become more proactive in identifying additional infrastructure investments that (a) provide substantial common good, (b) are beyond a community's capacity to initiate and fund by itself, (c) are of a type where the VO labor resource could make a significant contribution, and (d) would be amenable to VOs' taking responsibility for operation and maintenance subsequent to construction. This is consistent with the wider area planning function envisaged for AKRSP's engineering section. The latest Strategy Development Committee paper proposes an expanded program and assumes that funding would be largely provided by governmental, bilateral, and other nongovernmental programs complementing community contributions in cash, in kind, or as borrowed money. However, there are likely to be many situations in which a grant from AKRSP would make a funding package viable and would give the program greater leverage to ensure efficient implementation and the opportunity to influence any equity considerations that might be warranted. Such participation should not exacerbate dependency, as the communities would be active contributors and would be responsible for eventual operation and maintenance. Success in involving VOs with government agencies in this type of productive or social infrastructure would do much toward introducing a system that allows communities to become directly involved in the local and regional planning process.
7.6 Natural resource management (NRM)
Important new technologies have been introduced in fruit, vegetables, potatoes, and forestry, and significant advances have been made in animal health and poultry production. However, much less impact has been obtained in cereals and animal nutrition, the production and provision of which account for the majority of resources, in terms of time and money, in rural households. The evaluation considers that significant improvements can be made in the NRM program, and that greater emphasis should be placed on it in the next phase. This is also in accordance with the Strategy Development Committee's recommendations and with the thinking of AKRSP's senior staff and management. Improvements can be made in the techniques used to identify the needs of different types of farming households and to generate relevant technologies to meet these needs.
A greater understanding of the constraints and potentials of households in the major categories of production systems should not influence only technology development, but also the whole dialogue process through which AKRSP plans its interventions with communities. The relatively standard solutions to problems identified in dialogues suggest that the responsiveness of the process is less than it should be, especially when some of the "solutions" have achieved only low levels of adoption.
Recent initiatives have attempted to make the program more responsive to local needs by decentralizing it to the regions and ultimately to field management units. While this appears logical, the difficulty of attracting and retaining skilled staff has to be taken into account when locating personnel and formalizing links among the different levels of AKRSP's natural resource management program. Nor does the evaluation team believe that, on its own, this will be enough to instill the required farming system perspective in NRM staff and meet the requirements for more appropriate technology development.
Suggestions are made for an approach that involves key farmers in project design and in evaluation of the results of experimentation. This, however, would require more staff and funding than is currently envisaged. Nevertheless, this approach is sufficiently important to warrant its consideration as a specially funded project. It is also possible that international entities that specialize in this field may be interested in collaboration. A relatively high profile project with international collaboration may be able to overcome the problem of retaining natural resource management staff of quality. Links with the national research system would also be essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the adaptive research investment. The possibility of contracting out parts of the adaptive research program to entities with comparative advantage should be considered.
7.7 Human resource development
AKRSP's training programs have made a major contribution to developing human resources. The concept of training villagers in specific fields so that these individuals will continue to provide services within their communities has been a key element in the AKRSP strategy.
However, results have not been uniformly good, particularly in the technical fields. Where the specialist provides a service that is generally appreciated as a specialized skill, such as budding/grafting fruit trees, or involves a skill and incurs a cash cost, such as administering vaccines or drugs, there is a greater willingness for other members of the community to pay the individual for services rendered. There is less willingness to pay for general agricultural advice. It has also been difficult for AKRSP staff to adequately support the specialists. AKRSP has responded to this situation by recently focusing a lot of attention on the development of "master trainers." This involves more intensive training of selected specialists to increase their skill level, but also assistance to carry on a business associated with the specialized skill area, such as the supply of inputs as vaccines or pesticides. This program promises to add a permanence to the technical service system, as these master trainers should consider it in their interests to continue to enhance their skills and to provide appropriate advice along with their provision of inputs. They are also likely to solicit the cooperation of the more numerous specialists who would be represented in most communities. However, after AKRSP terminates its intervention, it will still be necessary to have a technical support system for such experts. This emphasizes the need to increasingly promote links not only with private sector providers but also with government departments that can provide some relevant support in the future.
Realization of the intended role of village organizations as full partners in development will be enhanced if there is a greater depth of management training in VOs. In addition, the future program is likely to imply cooperation by a number of VOs in larger projects in many instances, and a cadre of managers with special skills will be needed to assume leadership roles in a multi-community setting. The proposed new developments in village banking will require substantially expanded training of selected individuals in accounting and management. This program will also need more intensive follow-up support in the field if it is to realize its full potential.
Another important aspect of human resource development relates to the training of AKRSP staff. It has always been the program's policy to recruit local staff to the maximum extent possible. However, in the case of senior staff positions it has often been necessary to recruit non-northerners because of the scarcity of suitably trained local candidates. This approach has been legitimate, but AKRSP has probably not placed sufficient emphasis on ensuring that local staff receive preferential advanced training opportunities to enable them to assume senior posts in their local area. Had this been done in a concerted program, some of the recent staffing difficulties referred to below might have been avoided. This matter, however, has recently received management's attention, and appropriate scholarship arrangements are in place.
7.8 Marketing
The marketing program has evolved considerably. The earlier emphasis on cooperative marketing has decreased, and the focus is now more appropriately on improving the skills of producers in handling, processing, and presenting their produce and on providing links with established markets and/or traders. The two cooperative marketing ventures that have been established have been beneficial in achieving higher prices for their members, as both involved products that were particularly suited to this type of intervention. However, both ventures—the Baltistan and Gilgit apricot marketing associations—still need nurturing to ensure that business acumen is adequately instilled in management. The marketing section has also expanded its horizons into promoting the establishment of nonagricultural business enterprises, such as village guest houses to capitalize on the potential tourist market, and in 1992 changed its title to Enterprise Development Division (EDD).
The proposed creation of the Enterprise Support Company (ESC) will necessitate a clear definition of its and the EDD's responsibilities.
7.9 Savings and credit
The savings and credit program has contributed to the establishment of VOs as useful community institutions and has facilitated economic development by making credit accessible to the majority of the population in the program area. It has been a flexible and responsive instrument that has evolved as it learned from experience. The village and women's credit programs introduced in the 1990s have been particularly effective in involving communities and households in the credit process. However, there is a trend of deteriorating repayment performance in AKRSP's credit portfolio that must be monitored closely.
The proposal to formalize the savings and credit program in a bank specifically for the Northern Region (NRDB) is appropriate. It provides the opportunity to build on the relatively good performance this instrument has enjoyed to date and to create a permanence needed to provide continued financial support for local development. Successful establishment of this institution, however, will require increased professionalism in financial intermediation. This will include a shift in strategic focus from meeting credit needs to creating debt capacity, building financial information systems, introducing other measures to control and manage risk, improving operations support and training at the VO/WO level, and increasing controls and other internal prudential oversight.
The Northern Region Development Bank's unique financial structure—in having grant equity that does not have to yield dividends for shareholders—provides it with several options to increase its outreach to clients. First, it could undertake more lending by offering longer-term loans. This would increase the risk in its portfolio, as risk is created by longer-term commitments. It would require a high level of market and client information. Second, it could take advantage of the low cost of NRDB's funding by subsidizing lending for particular types of investment. Subsidized lending was suggested by the program's consultants for social infrastructure projects with a large "common good" element. This, however, can create expectations that are hard to contain and incentives to deal with losses in a nontransparent way. The inclusion of a transparent grant element in an investment package to make a loan on regular terms more viable may be more appropriate. Finally, NRDB could choose to subsidize savings through attractive interest rates and staff costs required for an aggressive savings program. Since all VO/WO members save, and because others in the area also save, a subsidy for savings would benefit the greatest number of people.
The Enterprise Support Company is intended to finance investments that potentially have high social and catalytic benefits, but carry excessive risk for a regular lender. The company's business projections show that it is unlikely to be profitable. Some of NRDB's annual profits will be transferred to ESC's equity. It also has a number of features that allow it to interact effectively with local markets and entrepreneurs. This is a challenging role that will require very skillful management. If failure to repay, for any reason, is widely witnessed and not effectively dealt with, some of those who are in a position to repay may decide to attempt to evade repayment. One way to avoid formation of this culture is to try to ensure that borrowers stand to lose more than lenders when loans are not repaid.
Because of the importance of containing any expectation of debt forgiveness, it may be more appropriate to include in ESC the social infrastructure lending currently proposed for NRDB, as this appears to be the most problematic activity proposed for the bank.

7. 10 Gender issues
The women's organization has proved to be an accepted and viable forum for village women's participation in the Northern Region's development process. The WO should be strengthened in the next phase of AKRSP's work. While requests from new communities should be met, the program should now focus on the quality of interaction with existing WOs, along with encouraging more household coverage in each community.
Improved staff monitoring and follow-up of the women's organizations is called for, and more flexible implementation of various packages is also necessary. AKRSP's activities in the area of appropriate technology should be carefully reviewed. The introduction of viable labor-saving technology that is accepted by the local populace is crucial—especially for women—but has not been very successful to date.
In introducing program activities of a more sophisticated financial nature, it will be important that women are not left out of the process. This calls for intensive training of selected women from WOs in entrepreneurial skills. At the other end of the continuum of women's organization membership are the vulnerable women of poor households. These women, who are most in need of assistance, are often left out of WO activities, and this problem needs special attention.
The links AKRSP has been encouraging among VOs/WOs and governmental and nongovernmental agencies in health, water supply, and education are especially beneficial to women. AKRSP, through the women's organization vegetable and poultry packages, has directly enhanced household nutrition and provided a source of cash income for many women.
Integration of gender-related staff and activities into the mainstream program should be continued, but not without careful planning and constant evaluation of this complex process. The role of each region's women-in-development monitors will be especially important in monitoring the effects of the integration process. Additional gender-related workshops should be organized to encourage open discussion of difficulties that will inevitably occur.

7.11 Management, organization, and governance
AKRSP's new management has already demonstrated a capacity to address management, personnel, and operational issues effectively. However, a number of significant morale problems are affecting productivity. These will have to be addressed quickly if AKRSP is to return to its former levels of efficiency. In the process of implementing AKRSP's emerging strategy, open communication among all levels of staff and management will be essential.
An expanded role for AKRSP as a facilitator or catalyst is appropriate and should enable increased and more effective development investment in the Northern Region. To maximize the potential benefits of this role, however, AKRSP will have to maintain a reputation as an unbiased, nonsectarian, development support institution. A completely transparent structure and relationship among the owners, board, and management of AKRSP will support its position. The emergence of the two new institutions—Northern Region Development Bank and Enterprise Support Company—make this transparency even more essential, as these will involve control over considerable financial resources in the region.
The program's monitoring, evaluation, and research section has accumulated extensive evaluation data, especially over the last five years, which has the potential to allow management to make more informed decisions on program strategy and content. However, this wealth of information is not being used properly. Of particular importance is the household income and village and women's organization performance data. This data can make a very useful contribution to developing greater understanding of the circumstances of different types of households in the various parts of the program area, which is necessary to develop a total household perspective when considering project interventions. Categorization and description of the population should feed into most types of training and into the formulation of AKRSP's longer-term and annual programs.
7.12 Replicability
Debate continues on the extent to which the AKRSP model is replicable. However, while it is unlikely that the experience can be, or even should be, transferable in every component, there is little doubt that its principles are widely applicable. This is proven by the fact that they are being actively used in other programs in, and beyond, Pakistan.
AKRSP must be considered a successful program. It has made a substantial development impact in a very difficult environment. It has not attempted to maintain an enclave development approach, but has progressively integrated into the overall development process, with government and other investors. This, and the principle of insisting on developing a self-help capability with cooperating communities, augurs well for sustainability of its impact.
The program has imperfections. However, these can be addressed through adjustments in policy and in resource allocations. It is hoped that this evaluation will make a contribution to these adjustments. The next phase of the program will give birth to a new series of problems and challenges. However, with a clear strategy and the appropriate relationships among staff, management, the board of AKRSP's institutions and their owners, and the donor community, the program's successes should continue.


Established by Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in 1982, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has been actively engaged in improving the quality of lives of poor and marginalized communities living among four of the world’s highest mountain ranges, including the Karakorum, Himalayas, Hindukush and Pamirs. AKRSP’s participatory development approach, within a short period of time, revolutionised the lives of more than 1.5 million people in seven districts of northern Pakistan, six in the federally administered Gilgit-Baltistan and one, Chitral, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The development model evolved by AKRSP has itself been widely replicated both within Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and in rural areas of developing world. AKRSP’s notable achievements include a significant increase in incomes of the target communities, construction of hundreds of irrigation channels, bridges, and other small infrastructure projects, planting of tens of millions of trees and the reclamation of hundreds of acres of degraded land, and the formation of 4,663 community organisations and over 58 Local Support Organisations (LSOs). These organizations are now taking the roles of AKRSP in service delivery and local governance.



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