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FOCUS and World Bank Agree Natural Hazard and Poverty Reduction Project for High Mountain Areas


Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 2 March 2004 – The World Bank and Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) have agreed to implement an innovative project aimed at reducing poverty in high-mountain areas around Lake Sarez. The US$ 2 million project is financed through the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) administered by the World Bank. 

Mr Hakim Feerasta, the Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), noted that, “the JSDF project is innovative in that it links risk reduction with longer-term socio-economic development. This is critical for the communities which will be targeted in this project as they face the combined challenges of physical and socio-economic isolation as well as threats from natural hazards.”

Referring to the work of FOCUS with other high-mountain communities in Central Asia, including in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr Altaaf Hasham the Chief of Mission of FOCUS in Tajikistan, stated “this is an important project that can serve as an excellent model for future development initiatives in mountainous areas in a region where much of the population faces the combined challenges of natural hazards and socio-economic isolation.”

The JSDF project builds on the “Lake Sarez Risk Mitigation Project” (LSRMP), which is also being implemented by FOCUS and has been supported by the Governments of Tajikistan, Switzerland, and the United States of America, the World Bank, and AKDN. The LSRMP, a multi-faceted programme being implemented jointly with the Ministry of Emergency Situations - has promoted mobilising and strengthening local communities. The JSDF project will draw on the LSRMP experience and partnerships to encourage communities in high-mountain areas around Lake Sarez to undertake projects which reduce the potential impact of local hazards, such as landslides and avalanches. The communities will, at the same time, undertake projects to improve their income-generating potential using the local and natural resources in an environmentally sensitive manner.

The JSDF project complements and supplements the Government of Tajikistan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. It seeks to strengthen the decision-making and implementing capacity of local communities by having them as the key driving force in the identification and implementation of the small-scale projects.

For further information, please contact:
Focus Humanitarian Assistance
137 Rudaki
Dushanbe
Tajikistan
Tel: + 992 372 21 37 36
Fax: + 992 372 21 96 11
Website: www.akdn.org

Notes:
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international group of agencies established in Europe, North America, and South and Central Asia that have developed a specialisation in disaster preparedness, mitigation, prevention and disaster response. FOCUS has been active in Tajikistan since 1997 and has played a lead role in designing and implementing a variety of disaster preparedness, mitigation and prevention (PMP) initiatives – ranging from Hazard and Vulnerability Assessments (HVAs) and disaster preparedness training with local communities to risk mitigation against natural hazards and strengthening government capacity (specifically the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence’s capacity) to respond to emergencies.

FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions that seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities in specific regions of Africa and Asia. Active in over 20 countries, the Network's underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies and institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion.

The AKDN has since 1993, launched a number of successful initiatives in Central Asia in areas ranging from agrarian reform to education, infrastructure, healthcare, micro-credit, small enterprise development and cultural revitalisation. These include the creation of rural support programmes in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, curriculum development for universities in the region through the Aga Khan Humanities Project, promotion and preservation of musical traditions of the region through the Aga Khan Music Initiative, educational support for students, faculty and university resources for training in a variety of disciplines ranging from English language and Economics to Architecture and Computer-Aided Design. Cultural and social development initiatives have been enhanced by support for health and education sector reform and formal collaboration with the United Nations, five Central Asian republics and Russia in regional drug control programmes. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), in collaboration with other international investors has established the Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank, the country’s largest commercial bank. Complementing its engagement in the financial services sector, AKFED operates an extensive micro-credit programme in Tajikistan and has just launched, in collaboration with the IFC, the Pamir Energy Company which operates one of the largest power projects in the region.

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