Nairobi, Kenya, 17 April 2007 - A model for re-building lives, environments and livelihoods after the devastating South Asian earthquake in 2005 was profiled by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) at the just concluded first stakeholders' forum of the Business Partnership for Sustainable Urbanization organized by UN-HABITAT.
Official figures suggest that 75,000 people lost their lives in the quake that destroyed cities, towns, villages and remote settlements across mountainous regions of India and Pakistan. The AKDN's Multi-Input Earthquake Reconstruction Programme in Kashmir was presented at the Forum as an approach to address challenges facing the urban poor in the aftermath of natural disaster.
"Investments targeted at rehabilitation are best sustained if they are supported by a holistic, multi-sectoral approach which is complemented by an area development focus." said Mr. Hafiz Sherali, Chairman Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan, presenting the model in a session entitled "Cross Cutting Challenge: Financing Partnerships." "Effective responses," he noted, "must go beyond risk assessment, home reconstruction, integrated water supply and management and mobile health clinics, to community-based risk management, infrastructure financing, enterprise development and microfinance."
Mr. Arif Neky, East African Regional Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation, highlighted the opportunity this approach offered for collaboration between governments, the private sector and civil society, noting that "ideally, corporate social responsibility would entail research into regionally appropriate building products and technologies, and investments in seismically vulnerable areas before disaster strikes." "Partnerships between public and private entities can greatly enhance the prospects for a sounder future and stability in regions with geophysical and economic vulnerability," he stated.
Ms. Jaana Mioch, Disaster Management Specialist at UN-HABITAT Headquarters endorsed the approach that truly sustainable rehabilitation requires multi-sectoral inputs including critical elements of economic recovery. The building sector, she believed, has a significant impact on local economies. Ms. Christine Auclaire, Co-ordinator of the BPSU at UN-HABITAT underlined the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach and was heartened to witness corporations increasingly moving beyond traditional corporate social responsibility and getting directly involved in on-the-ground assistance, coordination and policy recommendation.
AKDN programmes in Kashmir aim at the rehabilitation of homes and water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and infrastructure systems complemented by community mobilization efforts focusing on livelihood support and initiatives to promote rural entrepreneurship and to alleviate endemic poverty.
Hon. Soita Shitanda, Minister of Housing, Government of Kenya, and Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT and Under-Secretary General, United Nations presided over the opening of the Forum. The Business Partnership for Sustainable Urbanization forum is a new initiative launched by UN-HABITAT as a strategic alliance of business companies and other partners working towards sustainable urbanization. Given the challenges of urbanization and urban poverty, with 3 billion people worldwide living in urban areas and 1 billion people living in slums, the UN is engaging the private sector, foundations and other civil society stakeholders to achieve sustainable urbanization and improve the lives of urban poor.
The AKDN is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. Its annual budget for not-for-profit endeavours is in excess of US$300 million. Since November 2005, AKDN agencies (including its emergency relief affiliate, Focus Humanitarian Assistance) have been working to support rehabilitation, socio-economic development, and earthquake-preparedness in select areas struck by the earthquake of 8th October, 2005.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Arif Neky
Regional Chief Executive Officer
Aga Khan Foundation
P.O. Box 40898
Mr. Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Development Network
P.O. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41 22) 909 7277
Fax: (+41 22) 909 729