Contents of the ‘Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)’ category in chronological order.

Address to the Global Philanthropy Forum (Washingon D.C., USA + [Canada])

[Why have our development] efforts over five decades not borne greater fruit? Measured against history, where have things gone wrong? Given the progress we have made in so many fields, why have we been so relatively ineffective in sharing that progress more equitably, and in making it more permanent?

My response centres on one principal observation: I believe the industrialised world has often expected developing societies to behave as if they were similar to the established nation states of the West, forgetting the centuries, and the processes which moulded the Western democracies. Forgotten, for one thing, is the fact that economic development in Western nations was accompanied by massive urbanisation.

Yet today, in the countries of Asia and Africa where we work, over 70 percent of the population is rural. If you compare the two situations, they are one and a half to two and half centuries apart. Similarly, the profound diversity of these impoverished societies, infinitely greater than that among nascent European nation states, is too often unrecognised, or under-estimated, or misunderstood. Ethnic, religious, social, regional, economic, linguistic and political diversities are like a kaleidoscope that history shakes every day.

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Preface to the book ‘Karakorum, Hidden Treasures in the Northern Areas of Pakistan’ by Stefano Bianca (Aiglemont)

The integrated character of this innovative cultural development endeavour [the restored Shigar fort] has been underpinned and complemented by the work of other institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), such as the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), which has a long record of supporting rural communities in the Northern Areas. When the AKDN institutions first began working in northern Pakistan more than twenty years ago, it was one of the poorest areas on earth.

Since that time, nearly four thousand village-based organisations in such fields as women’s initiatives, water use and savings and credit have been established. The quality of life of 1.3 million people living in the rural environment — which in many ways was representative of the majority of the population of Asia and Africa — has been dramatically improved. Per capita income has increased by three hundred per cent, savings have soared, infant and maternal mortality rates have declined by more than eighty per cent, and there have been marked improvements in male and female education, overall life expectancy, primary health, housing and sanitation, and cultural awareness….

What has been achieved in the Northern Areas contains many lessons and can serve as a model for other mountain regions in Central Asia.

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