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April 2005 Bulletin

His Highness the Aga Khan“Microcredit has helped millions of poor people in developing countries, but they remain at the mercy of a death or serious injury of a family member, the loss of a crop or livestock, or a natural disaster such as the recent tsunami. The assets of borrowers, accumulated through great effort over many years, can be destroyed overnight. Families are then forced to make the same difficult climb out of poverty a second or even a third time. By creating a wider range of better targeted products such as micro-insurance, the poor will have the ability to protect their assets."

His Highness the Aga Khan, Geneva, 22 February 2005

Aga Khan in Norway

Hilde F. Johnson, Norway's Minister of International Development, and the Aga Khan signed an agreement to enhance collaboration on development issues and programmes in Africa, Central and South Asia. The Aga Khan also spoke at the Nobel Institute on the theme of "Democratic Development, Pluralism and Civil Society". Please see the press release and video.

Inauguration of Azhar Park Project

Azhar Park ProjectOn the 25th of March 2005, Egypt's First Lady, Madame Suzanne Mubarak, inaugurated the 30-hectare (74-acre) Al-Azhar Park in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan. The Park, undertaken in the historic district of Cairo by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, is proving to be a catalyst for urban renewal in one of the most congested cities in the world. The Project, which encompasses a number of social programmes, has already had a significant impact on the 200,000 residents of the neighboring Darb al-Ahmar district. For more information, please see the press release, speech, photos, video and update on the project.

New Aga Khan Academy and Hospital Extension for Dar es Salaam

President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania joined the Aga Khan in announcing the construction of the second phase of the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam. The Aga Khan outlined the vision and wider regional health strategy of the Hospital as one that would “offer the best in training for medical specialists, nurses and medical technicians in East Africa". For more information, please see the press release.

President Mkapa also joined the Aga Khan in laying the foundation stone for the construction of a new Aga Khan Academy in Dar es Salaam.The Academy will be a residential school offering pre-primary to higher secondary education. It is the third in a planned international network of 19 Academies being established by the Aga Khan Development Network across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. The first Academy was opened in December 2003 in Mombasa, Kenya. For more information, please see the press release and information on first academic centre of excellence, the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa.

Launch of the New Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance

Launch of the New Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance On 22 February 2005, His Highness the Aga Khan was joined by Jim Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, to announce the creation of a new institution, the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM). The new Agency brings together an unusually broad range of financial products and services for the poor, including micro-insurance, small housing loans, savings and education accounts. The Agency’s programmes, which operate in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Egypt, India, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique, Pakistan, Syria and Tajikistan, among other countries, are designed to “graduate” the ultra-poor beyond subsistence while reducing their vulnerability to unforeseen events such as family crises or natural disasters. The extension of microcredit to include the broader services of microfinance occurs during the United Nations International Year of Microcredit. For more information, please see the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance pages on the website and the press release.

Restoration Work on the Grand Mosque of Mopti, Mali

Restoration Work on the Grand Mosque of Mopti, MaliMali’s President Amadou Toumani Touré recently toured the restoration work undertaken on Mopti’s Grande Mosque by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The Mosque, which was at risk of collapsing, has now been stabilised. Continuing restoration work will encompass the repair of the roof, the restoration of the masonry structure and the application of a new coat of earth plaster. Work is expected to be completed ahead of the rainy season in 2006. Please see the background information and the slide show.

Tsunami Relief

Following donations to government relief efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, AKDN's affiliate FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance is working to restore livelihoods in area of Andra Pradesh affected by the disaster, including procuring and distributing fishing nets and boat repair kits. FOCUS is also acting as a central point to receive donations-in-kind from the general Mumbai population. These items are being packed and sent to the State Relief Commissioner, from where it is dispatched to all areas in India affected by the tsunamis. For more information, please see the press release.

Aga Khan Receives National Building Museum’s Vincent Scully Prize

The Aga Khan received the National Building Museum’s Vincent Scully Prize in recognition of his contributions to promoting design excellence, urban and rural revitalization, and historic preservation. The National Building Museum noted that his efforts have “helped bridge the gap of understanding between Western and Islamic cultures.” The National Building Museum is America’s premier cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating architecture and the built environment. For more information, please see the press release, acceptance speech and video.

New Publications, Web Pages and Videos

New Videos: Six new videos are now available on the website, including short films on Azhar Park in Cairo and the new Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance. Please see the Video page for more information.

Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) Brochure, which outlines the objectives and principles of the organisation, as well as the countries in which AKAM operates; and the Case Studies, which illustrate through individual examples AKAM's work in Afghanistan, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan and Syria.

New AKDN in India pages: in the first of a series of country pages, the AKDN India pages provide in-depth information on AKDN activities in India.

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