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Tajikistan, Afghanistan and AKDN Lay Foundation Stone for Fifth Bridge Between Countries


Please also see: Press Release in Russian, Press Release in TajikPhotographs

Showun, Shurobod District, Tajikistan, 31st October 2011 – His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, Minister of Public Works of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan His Excellency Abdulkudus Hamidi, and His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today performed the foundation-stone ceremony for the Shurobod Bridge.

The bridge, the fifth to be built in partnership with the AKDN, will connect the Shurobod District of Khatlon Region in Tajikistan with the Khohon Province of Afghanistan. The ceremony was also attended by the German Ambassadors to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Since 2002, AKDN has constructed four bridges -- at Darwaz, Tem, Ishkashim and Vanj. Today they serve as the primary transport links between Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast and northern Afghanistan. As integral parts of AKDN’s multi-sector cross-border strategy, they are key conduits for humanitarian assistance, commerce and socio-cultural exchange opportunities in these remote and isolated areas.

President Rahmon said the new bridge will “significantly enhance closer trade and economic cooperation and the intensification of multilateral cooperation between our two countries”.

“This foundation is a symbol of the relationship between our two countries,” said Minister Hamidi. “With the construction of this bridge, thousands of people across the river will now have the opportunity to connect to health services and education opportunities in Tajikistan, and this is a remarkable achievement.”

“What you are doing today is setting a remarkable example of people coming together for a common purpose across frontiers – and that common purpose is to improve the quality of life of every individual in those societies,” said the Aga Khan, thanking the local and national governments of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. “These bridges enable people to come together to share best practice in developing human society. Across frontiers, you can build best practice in education, in healthcare, in economic development, in financial institutions, in rural activity, and it is this capacity to bring the best of society together for the benefit of all the people that I think is the most important lesson that we have today.” The Aga Khan also thanked the government of Germany for its support for the project.

When completed, the Shurobod Bridge will connect rural, mountainous and isolated communities living along the borders of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The bridge will be 162 meters in length, measure 3.5 meters in width and have a load capacity of 30 metric tons. Construction is expected to be completed at the end of 2012. The German government will provide financial support through its development bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), while the Aga Khan Foundation, together with its local partners, will provide technical assistance.

As with the previously constructed bridges, facilities, including cross-border markets, will be built on both sides of the Shurobod bridge. It is anticipated that the new bridge will contribute to increasing the livelihoods of the isolated and rural areas by stimulating cross-border commercial trade as well as the development of infrastructure on the Afghan side.

For more information please contact:

Hokimsho Zulfiqorov
Senior Program Officer, Communication and Resource Mobilization
Aga Khan Foundation Tajikistan
4th floor, 137 Rudaki Avenue, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
E-mail: hokimsho.zulfiqorov@akdn.org
Mobile: +992 93 435-75-12

Semin Abdulla
Senior Communications Officer
Aga Khan Development Network
60270 Gouvieux, France
Tel: +33 3 44 58 40 00
Dushanbe : +992 93 500-82-94
Email: semin.abdulla@akdn.org

Notes:

His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), is the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. In the context of his hereditary responsibilities, His Highness the Aga Khan has been deeply engaged with the development of Asia and Africa for more than 50 years.

Today, the AKDN works in over 30 countries to improve living conditions and opportunities, and to help relieve society of the burdens of ignorance, disease, and deprivation. AKDN agencies are non-denominational and conduct programs without regard to the faith, origin or gender of beneficiaries. They work to improve the welfare and prospects of people in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa. Some programmes, such as specific research, education and cultural programmes, span both the developed and developing worlds. While each agency pursues its own mandate, all of them work together within the overarching framework of the Network so that their different pursuits interact and reinforce one another. The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world. It employs approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities in 2010 was approximately US$ 625 million.

AKDN-Tajikistan Cross-Border Programme
In recent years, AKDN Tajikistan has extended its programmatic presence to include cross-border initiatives that aim to bring the neighboring Badakhshan-Badakhshan regions of Tajikistan and Afghanistan closer after decades of separation and isolation. The cross-border strategy engages many AKDN agencies and external partners across several sectors and is the product of collaboration between the AKDN and the Governments of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

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