AKDN in Afghanistan
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) began working in Afghanistan in 1996 when it started distributing food aid during the country’s civil war. Since 2002, AKDN and its partners have committed over US$1 billion in development assistance to the country. The Network's integrated approach combines economic, social and cultural inputs. Its economic projects span over 240 cities and towns in the country’s 34 provinces. Its social development and humanitarian work is focused in 61 districts in seven provinces, impacting over 3 million people. Its cultural programmes, which operate in Kabul, Herat, Balkh and Badakhshan, have restored over 90 historic buildings.
Beyond its own agencies, the Aga Khan Development Network works to strengthen broader systems of Afghan institutions. For example, the Aga Khan Foundation’s (AKF) governance work is coordinated closely with the Afghan Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance to ensure an approach that is consistent with government priorities. In education, the Aga Khan Foundation coordinates with the Afghan Ministry of Education and works to build the skill levels of Ministry staff at provincial and district levels.
The Network also works closely with the private sector, including the national Chamber of Commerce and its regional affiliates, business associations and entrepreneurs that are creating jobs and income for vulnerable rural households. Local civil society organisations are also strengthened as critical partners . In Bamyan, for example, Afghan civil society groups supported by the Aga Khan Foundation have begun implementing community savings programmes in districts outside those areas where AKF works.
AKDN’s approach is based on the belief that comprehensive area development, led by Afghan institutions, built on partnerships between government, business and civil society, is the surest way to secure Afghanistan's transition to stability and prosperity. In order to achieve area development, all partners must make long-term commitments, and coordinated investments must respond to the priorities set by local communities and their elected representatives.