In India, AKDN agencies address a broad spectrum of development issues in the social, economic and cultural spheres.In India, AKDN agencies address a broad spectrum of development issues. Social development programmes include pioneering integrated rural development programmes; the provision of housing, water and sanitation systems to rural communities; systemic school improvement initiatives; the improvement and decentralising of the provision of health service delivery; and innovative community led approaches to reproductive health and child survival. A multi-sectoral post earthquake rehabilitation programme is also underway in Gujarat. The Network also mobilises direct economic investment with the objective of expanding economic activities in selected areas. It actively promotes the creation of legal and fiscal structures that encourage the growth of the private sector. At the same time, it works to bring together the private sector and civil society to improve social conditions and reinforce the cultural resources of society.
The Promise of Better Health
Health promotion and disease prevention are at the core of health programmes. This is achieved by a drive to increase access to quality and create cost-effective health care systems. The Aga Khan Health Service, India, has an integrated system across three states (Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra), including 22 health clinics, three diagnostic centres and the 118 bed, acute-care, multi-speciality Prince Aly Khan Hospital in south Mumbai.
Emphasis is put on improving the health and well-being of rural communities with a focus on women, adolescent girls and young children. Immunisation and the integrated management of childhood illnesses are the main priorities while adult health (HIV-AIDS cardiovascular disease, diabetes and selected cancers) and mental health are new sectors of activity.
An integrated approach to health care delivery extends the impact of health initiatives far beyond curative health care to many of the root causes of ill health, such as female illiteracy, health promotion and disease prevention, nutrition, safe water supply and sanitation.
Strategies for financial self-sufficiency and sustainability of programmes include user fees and cross-subsidisation. The current cost recovery level of health programmes, despite increased competition, is still comparatively high, averaging 70 percent.
Enhancing Rural Livelihoods
Rural development programmes started in the early 1980s when the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) was established in Gujarat. Programmes are linked by a central concern for community-level participation and decision-making. Today, over 300,000 beneficiaries across 1000 villages in four states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan) have organised themselves into more than 1000 village-level institutions, of which almost 40 percent are women’s groups. These include eight federations of farmers undertaking agricultural input supply and marketing activities and six federations of women’s groups.
Support for watershed development activities by rural beneficiaries have given rise to savings amongst beneficiaries of 28.2 million rupees (US$ 622,222), increased amounts of water for drinking and irrigation, higher agricultural productivity, greater capability to cope with drought and lower payments to moneylenders. Community-based irrigation management, efficient water resource management and joint forest management approaches have been successfully piloted.
A 1995-2000 impact study showed beneficiary income increased between 40 and 80 percent, while expenditure on food increased by 85 percent. Female literacy levels rose by 10 percent while distress migration declined from 80 percent to 35 percent and distress migration declined from 150 to 90 days per year.
Education and Learning
The Aga Khan Education Service, India (AKES,I) operates some 85 schools (from pre-primary through higher secondary) serving around 9,500 students across Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The first school was established in Mundra, Gujarat, in 1908.
An international centre of excellence is being constructed in Mumbai for some 1,750 students. This private, non-denominational institution will admit students from the pre-primary to higher secondary levels on a merit-based, means-blind basis. It will offer both national and international curricula. In addition to subsidising the costs of high quality education, the centre will offer scholarships for qualifying students.
AKES also partners with the Aga Khan Foundation in a school improvement programme that addresses national education needs. These quality enhancement programmes impact around one million students in nearly 3,000 schools as well as 8,000 teachers.
Housing, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation
In addition to designing and constructing houses in rural and urban areas, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, India, is installing water supply systems and sanitation units in 125 villages in Gujarat, ensuring health benefits by reducing infection and disease. The environmental health programme gives the community a key role in the development, financing and management of rural water supply and sanitation infrastructure and related behavioural change. Benefits of this programme include closer proximity to safe drinking water, which has allowed women to use their time more productively. AKPBS also specialises in village planning and mapping exercises and the protection of structures from potential natural disasters (landslides, flooding and earthquakes).
In response to the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, AKDN agencies moved in rapidly to provide much needed relief and rehabilitation services in Kutch. The Network’s significant presence in Gujarat ensured an immediate long-term commitment to assist affected communities. AKDN agencies are now working together to deliver a comprehensive rehabilitation package to these communities that includes reconstruction of houses and other village structures, health promotion, education improvement, livelihood enhancement through natural resource management and the installation of a water supply and sanitation infrastructure.
An international multi-skilled agency, Focus Humanitarian Assistance is a newly established affiliate of AKDN in India. In addition to providing relief and assistance following landslides, earthquakes, cyclones, floods and disease epidemics, FOCUS undertakes successful resettlement programmes for displaced communities. It also establishes effective disaster prevention, mitigation and preparation programmes. FOCUS helps people in need reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid and facilitates their transition to sustainable, self-reliant, long-term development.
Activities in India in culture have supported a trend established by His Highness the Aga Khan 40 years ago. His gift to the nation of the property that is today the Gandhi Memorial in Pune was one of a number of decisions that sought to promote productive reuse of important cultural assets. The restoration of the waterworks and revitalisation of the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India is one of several AKTC projects undertaken at UNESCO World Heritage Sites worldwide.
Indian architects, planners, engineers and designers have been recognised in the form of seven winning projects in five different triennial cycles of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the world’s largest architectural prize. An independent international jury distributes US$500,000 each cycle.
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage and the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology in Ahmedabad are making pioneering contributions to a unique venture in technology through partnerships with another AKTC programme, ArchNet. ArchNet, which can be found at www.archnet.org, is an Internet-based global community of architects, planners and educators developed by the AKTC in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Commercial Enterprise / Banking Services
Long-held traditions of self-help gave impetus to small community-based co-operative societies. These scocieties evolved, with the help of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), into small co-operative banks, which then merged to form the Development Co-operative Bank, and which eventually metamorphosed during the 1990s into the Development Credit Bank (DCB).
From its origins in small institutions addressing the needs of underserved communities, especially in the co-operative sector, DCB has emerged as a fully fledged commercial bank providing advanced corporate finance services at one end of the spectrum while continuing to service the needs of co-operative society borrowers.
With 62 locations in eight states and two union territories, DCB now has a deposit base of Rs 32 billion rupees (approximately US$ 950 million). In recent years, the Bank has broadened its client base and made investments in information technology. For example, It was the first bank in India to start mobile phone (SMS) banking.
AKFED also had a vital role in facilitating finance for home ownership by playing an instrumental role in the launch of the Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) in the mid 1970s.
Sustainable Community-Based Approaches to Livelihood Enhancement (SCALE)
(Brief - English, 655KB, PDF)
Please also see:
Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme (Brief - English, 1MB, PDF)
Community-based Savings Groups (CBSGs) (Brief - English, 1MB, PDF)
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