Karachi, Pakistan, 7 December 2005 – The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBS,P) has been named the 2005 winner of the US $1 million Alcan Prize for Sustainability by the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) for its efforts to improve Pakistan’s built environment and water and sanitation facilities.
The Aga Khan Planning and Building Services is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Established in Pakistan in 1980, the agency’s mandate is to plan and implement infrastructure and technology-related development initiatives in Pakistan. AKPBS,P believes that in order to alleviate poverty in a sustainable manner, it is important to enhance the built environment of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations of society. It does this by providing material, technical assistance, applied research, planning and construction management services for both rural and urban areas.
AKPBS,P works in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, the North West Frontier Province, as well as the Punjab and Sindh provinces. Two of its programmes have especially been commended by donors, international and local agencies over the years: the Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP) and the Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP).
The agency’s Water and Sanitation Extension Programme was launched in 1997 to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases through the provision of potable water as well as improved hygiene and sanitation practices in Pakistan’s Northern Areas. The success of this programme has led to a partnership between AKPBS,P and the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF). As a result, the programme is being replicated in several other areas with the support of donors and partners. In its first phase, WASEP supplied water to 95,000 people, installed 7,800 latrines, and conducted 4,300 hygiene education sessions to raise awareness in women and children from rural communities.
The AKPBS,P Building and Construction Improvement Programme is an initiative designed to improve living conditions by developing solutions to issues relating to housing and the living environment. The programme was established in 1997 through a collaborative agreement between AKDN and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Today the programme has developed low cost, seismic resistant, energy and resource-efficient housing construction methods, which includes the testing and application of over 60 different interventions designed to improve building standards. Over 12,500 fuel-efficient products have been installed in 5,000 households to date, benefiting more than 40,000 people.
Acknowledging the prize, Salim Rajan, Vice-Chairman of Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan, noted that this was an indication of the commendable efforts of the organisation in Pakistan. “Receiving this Prize will help us refocus international attention on the urgent need in Pakistan to rebuild earthquake-devastated communities and develop more sustainable villages for the future. Not only is the Alcan Prize a very welcome source of new funds at a critical time, it is also a vote of confidence in our work from some of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable development.”
Travis Engen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alcan, said, “We are gratified to know that the 2005 Alcan Prize is being awarded to an organisation working on the ground in a part of the world that is in great need of its services, in the wake of the recent disastrous earthquake. This reality underlines the relevance of the Alcan Prize as a stimulus for the much-needed efforts of the international NGO community.”
Alcan Inc, a global leader in aluminium and related products, created the Alcan Prize for Sustainability in January last year to recognise outstanding contributions to the goal of economic, environmental, and social sustainability by not-for-profit, non-governmental, and civil society organisations.
To ensure credibility and objectivity, the Alcan Prize is managed by a third-party, the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum. Robert Davies, IBLF Chief Executive Officer, said, “AKPBS,P have demonstrated an enviable track record in Pakistan through their innovative work in improving living conditions and the environment for the most disadvantaged people in both urban and rural communities. The combination of providing greater access to clean water and adequate sanitation with a participatory approach to identify social and construction services for communities has had a powerful impact. All the short-listed candidates for 2005 are doing important work around the globe to build sustainable societies, and we congratulate them.”
AKPBS,P is the second winner of the Alcan Prize for Sustainability. This year, close to 1000 organisations from around the world submitted applications for the prize. The US $ 1 million prize money will be used to further strengthen their activities in the country and support efforts to rebuild communities devastated by the earthquake that struck areas of Northern Pakistan on 8 October.
Other grant recipients are Bioplaneta (Mexico Cty, Mexico), Magic Bus (Mumbai, India), Oasis Association (Claremont, South Africa), Rainforest Alliance (USA) and Roundabout Outdoor (Johannesburg, South Africa). Short listed organisations included Practical Action (UK), Ecotrust USA and Ecotrust Canada (Vancouver, Canada), Global Nature Fund (Radolfzell, Germany) and Voluntary Service Oversees (UK). The 2004 Alcan prize was awarded to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) of Germany, who provided a solution to the growing conflict over global forest management.
The Aga Khan Planning and Building Services has been working to improve the built environment in Pakistan since 1980. Its areas of focus include housing design and construction, institutional construction management, village planning, natural hazard mitigation, water supply and sanitation, and improved indoor living conditions for the most disadvantaged members of society. AKPBS,P achieves its goals by providing material and technical expertise and training to rural and urban areas. Currently, AKPBS,P is focusing on developing technology related to earthquake-resistant buildings, solar energy use, thermal efficiency, village planning, and other quality-of-life issues.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims. It is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US $300 million.
For more information, please contact:
Aga Khan Planning and Building Service , Pakistan
Mr. Abdul Karim Ajanee
Telephone: + 92 21 225 0765 / +92 21 223 7110
Secrétariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Department of Public Affairs