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  • Princess Zahra Aga Khan receives the 2005 Alcan Prize for Sustainability, in Vancouver on behalf of the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS), Pakistan. Left to Right : Robert Davies, Managing Director of International Business Leaders Forum, and Travis Engen, President and CEO of Alcan.
    AKDN / Gary Otte
Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan establishes endowment to leverage the 2005 Alcan Prize for Sustainability

Vancouver, Canada, 2 March 2006 – The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBS, P), today received the US $1 million Alcan Prize for Sustainability for its efforts to improve housing conditions as well as water and sanitation facilities in Pakistan.
The prize was accepted on behalf of the agency by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, head of the Social Welfare Department at the Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan, the umbrella institution of which AKPBS, P is a branch.

At a gala event in Vancouver honouring the 2005 finalists, Princess Zahra announced that the Alcan Prize will be matched with a $US 1 million contribution from Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) in recognition of Canada’s long-standing support for the work of AKPBS, P and of Alcan’s Canadian roots.

The AKFC contribution will be added to the prize, establishing the Fund for the Sustainability of the Built Environment (FSBE), an endowment to leverage further support for the work of AKPBS, P in reducing seismic vulnerability and improving rural housing, water and sanitation, for communities in Pakistan and neighbouring countries.

In addition, His Highness the Aga Khan will make available a further US $1million to match additional contributions to the Fund.

Furthermore, FSBE will ensure that the full amount of each gift will go directly to physical interventions at the village level, without any overhead or other administrative costs.

In accepting the prize, Princess Zahra acknowledged Alcan for creating an opportunity to draw attention to the work of AKPBS, P. “It is a clear example, to take a phrase from the Alcan brochure, of working ‘diligently to make the world a better place,’” she said.

“It is methodical work in which the development of products and the careful laying of plans are essential, but for which implementation and maintenance -- and the training that both require -- form the central pillars,” Princess Zahra said.

The goal of the FSBE is to create a sustainable source, and thereby reflect the ethos of the Alcan Prize through ongoing activities and investments to address project sustainability and the impact of their activities.

AKPBS, P was established in 1980 as an agency of the worldwide Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The agency’s mandate is to plan and implement infrastructure and technology-related development initiatives to improve the built environment and to enhance living conditions for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in order to eliminate poverty.

It does this by providing material, technical assistance and applied research, as well as planning and construction management services for communities in both rural and urban areas.

Referring to the devastating earthquake that struck the Pakistan-India border area in October last year, Princess Zahra stressed that in addition to immediate assistance to the victims, support is needed to help residents reconstruct communities so that they will be less vulnerable to future seismic shocks.

She commended Alcan for its clarity of conception and commitment to implementation. She said: “The key dimensions are that interventions must be grounded in communities, must integrate social, economic and environment elements and be undertaken with a long term perspective. These are also the underlying principles of AKDN’s approach to development.”

Two of AKPBS, P’s programmes were cited by the Alcan Prize jury: the Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP) and the Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP).

The Water and Sanitation Extension Programme was launched in 1997 to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases in Pakistan’s Northern Areas by providing potable water and improving hygiene and sanitation practices. The success of this programme has led to its replication in other areas of the country with the support of donors and partners. In its first phase, WASEP supplied water to 116,900 people, installed 9,200 latrines, and conducted 5,700 hygiene education sessions to raise awareness among women and children from rural communities.

The AKPBS,P’s Building and Construction Improvement Programme is designed to improve living conditions by developing solutions to issues relating to housing and the built environment. The programme has developed low-cost, seismic-resistant, energy and resource-efficient housing construction methods and standards. Over 15,000 fuel-efficient products have been installed in 7,000 households to date, benefiting more than 50,000 people.

These programmes have been supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); the German funding agency Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW); United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF); United Nations Development Program, Pakistan, (UNDP, P); Global Environmental Facility (GEF); European Commission (EC); Austrian Development Agency (AusAID), Hundreds of Original Projects for Employment (HOPE 87), and many other donor agencies.

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. The prize is managed by the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum.

For more information, please contact: Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan
Mr. Asif Merchant
Chief Executive Officer
Telephone: + 92 21 225 3797 / +92 21 222 5574 / +92 21 225 0765
Fax: + 92 21 2225572

Aga Khan Foundation Canada
Ms. Jennifer Morrow
Manager, Communications
Tel.: (6 13) 237-2532 (ext. 107)

Secrétariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Ms. Semin Abdulla
Department of Public Affairs
Telephone: +
Fax: +


Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBS, P) 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.

Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is a private, non-denominational development agency established in 1980. As a member of the worldwide Aga Khan Development Network, AKFC is committed to promoting equitable and sustainable development in Asia and Africa, without regard to faith, origin or gender.

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 faith, origin or gender.