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  • Water conservation and sustainable natural resource management are at the heart of AKRSP's work. In coastal areas of Gujarat where saline water has encroached on fresh water supplies, AKRSP has pioneered methods of remediation and community management of these resources.
    AKDN / Amit Pasricha
  • The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme rehabilitates check dams that capture rainwater during the monsoons. The water is then channelled to local tribal farmers throughout the year through small aquifers, to help increase their crop yield and improve their livelihoods. Netrang, Gujarat, India.
    AKDN / Jean-Luc Ray
  • The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) has been awarded the Times of India Social Impact Award 2015, in the NGO environment category, for its effort in ensuring access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation in Bihar and Gujarat.
    AKDN / Jean-Luc Ray
Participatory governance
Reaching almost 4 million people at the end of 2012, participatory governance interventions are at the core of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)’s approach to rural development, particularly in Asia, where the investments made in local institutions of community governance are a defining characteristic of the Rural Support Programmes (RSPs).

AKF-supported village organisations and interest groups, are considered essential to the legitimacy and sustainability of activities and often provide the entry point for other sector interventions. Village organisations are formed through community level elections for office holders who then lead the formulation of a community development plan. The plan defines the priorities and support (technical, financial and human resources) which a community will need to realise its development vision. AKF then works with the community to implement and resource activities in support of that plan, often in partnership with local government.

Over the past 30 years, participatory governance interventions have been remarkably successful. Across the majority of country programmes, there are numerous representative and increasingly sustainable institutions focused on strengthening service delivery and community engagement in rural development, health and education.

Key highlights include:

  • The replication of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme’s (AKRSP) Local Support Organisation (LSO) model across Pakistan – so that 5 million households are now represented through a network of 765 LSOs; 
  • The establishment of 1,522 elected community development councils (CDCs) in Afghanistan, which are increasingly strong institutions of local governance; 
  • The block-level federations supported by AKRSP India in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, of which 80% are now financially self-sufficient.