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European Commission Awards Rs. 110 Crore Grant to Benefit Rural Poor in India


New Delhi, India, 1 February 2002 - The European Commission has approved a grant of Euro 25.5 million to the Aga Khan Foundation in India to support community based rural development. The grant will contribute towards a long-term programme to enhance and protect livelihoods of disadvantaged rural populations in resource-poor areas of central-west India, where nearly 100 million people depend on a rapidly degrading natural resource base for their livelihoods.

The programme, Sustainable Community-based Approaches to Livelihood Enhancement (SCALE), constitutes a continuation of a long-standing partnership between the European Commission and the Aga Khan Foundation. The European Commission also provides support to the Programme for the Enrichment of School Level Education (Euro 11 million) and funded the Community Management of Natural Resources programme (Euro 14 million) which ended in December 2001.

During the next ten years, Aga Khan Foundation's implementing partner, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) will conduct activities benefiting households in over 1000 villages in the state of Gujarat, which continues to suffer from the detrimental effects of the 2001 earthquake. The new programme will address emerging regional problems, such as depleting groundwater and recurrent droughts. Over the long term, the aim is to contribute to an improved national and state policy environment by documenting and sharing the results of lessons learned more widely with Government and other practitioners.

AKRSP(India)’s works in close partnership with local communities and government to address natural resource problems. Income growth is promoted by increasing agricultural productivity through improved farming methods, input supply, marketing, land development and management or by increasing off-farm incomes and supporting enterprise development. Assets are typically built through community management of natural resources - water storage, irrigation infrastructure, soil conservation or forestry. Local capital is mobilised by promoting savings and developing financial services to enable broad access to credit on a sustainable basis. Training programmes support the effectiveness and sustainability of the village-level institutions by providing the management and technical skills needed to plan, implement and maintain local development activities.

An evaluation by the European Commission in July 2001 states that “participatory approaches have been instrumental in ensuring that projects and programmes implemented by AKRSP(India) have a strong cultural base and in strengthening this base in a manner that is relevant in modern situations.”

During his visit to Moti Morsal village in Surendranagar district in Gujarat on the 31st January 2002, Commissioner Poul Nielson met with village beneficiaries and expressed his appreciation of their collaborative efforts. “I am pleased that the European Commission is funding this development programme. This type of action symbolises a handshake of friendship and partnership between Europe and India. Nothing is easy and there are still many problems to overcome, but we are pleased to be a partner in this process of enhancing peoples’ livelihoods.”

Notes:
The Aga Khan Foundation, which focuses on health, education, rural development and the enhancement of non-governmental organisations, is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Network consists of eight non-profit, non-denominational development agencies. The other agencies are: Aga Khan Health Services, which provides primary and curative health care in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Syria; Aga Khan Education Services, which operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes at the pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary levels in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Tajikistan; the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, which provides material, technical assistance and construction management services for rural and urban areas; and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which focuses on culture as a means to enhance the physical, social and economic revitalisation of communities having an Islamic cultural heritage. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, a for-profit agency also registered in Switzerland, works to strengthen the role of the private sector in developing countries by promoting entrepreneurial activity and supporting private sector initiatives. Two universities are also part of the Network: Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia (UCA).  For more information, please visit the website: http://www.akdn.org/

EC-India Development and Economic Cooperation
Starting with support for India’s Operation Flood (the mega milk supply scheme) in 1971, the EC has funded a large number of development and economic co-operation projects totalling a landmark of Euro 2 billion (more than Rs. 8600 crore).
EC development assistance to India currently involves an expenditure of roughly Euro 100 million per year (more than Rs. 430 crore). The EC is the largest donor of grant funds to India. Apart from supporting two large-scale sector reform programmes in primary education (with contribution of Euro 350 million) and health and family welfare (Euro 200 million) the EC also supports many smaller projects undertaken by non-governmental organisations. The current portfolio amounting to around 120 million euros (around Rs. 500 crore) consists of more than 170 projects.

The EC’s economic co-operation programme aims at strengthening bilateral trade and investment. Currently there are bilateral programmes in the areas of civil aviation, maritime transport, scientific co-operation as well as regional programmes in information and communication technology (Asia IT & C), urban co-operation (Asia Urbs) and business promotion (Asia Invest).

For further information, regarding the rural development programme in India, please contact:
Vijaya Pastala
Programme Manager,
Rural Development
Aga Khan Foundation
6 Bhagwan Dass Road
New Delhi – 110 001
India
Tel: +91-11-378 2173
E-mail: vijaya@akfindia.org
Website: www.akdn.org

David Nygaard
Director, Rural Development Programmes
Aga Khan Foundation
1-3 Avenue de la Paix
1202 Geneva
Switzerland
Tel: +41-22-909 7200
E-mail: david.nygaard@akdn.ch
Website: www.akdn.org

To contact the Aga Khan Development Network press officer:
The Information Department
Aiglemont
Gouvieux, France
Tel: (+33 3) 44 58 40 00
Fax: (+33 3) 44 58 11 14
E-mail: information@aiglemont.org
Website: www.akdn.org

For further information, regarding EC development projects and programmes in India, please contact:
Delegation of the European Commission in India, 65 Golf Links, 110003 New Delhi
Ph. 011-4629237, 4629238; Fax: 011- 469206
E-mail: eudelind@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in

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