The Asheqan wa Arefan neighbourhood, which takes its name from an important shrine at its centre, represents one of the last surviving clusters of historic fabric in the Old City, which suffered massive damage in the early 1990s. Since early 2003, 11 homes and 15 historic public buildings have been conserved, and the living conditions of more than 60 households improved through access to small-scale grants and building advice in this and adjacent areas.
A range of upgrading measures have been undertaken, including paving of alleyways and selected streets, along with the construction of drains and improvement of water supplies. This rehabilitation has benefited nearly 20,000 residents and generated some 80,000 work/days of employment, while the conservation works has provided the opportunity for training of more than 60 apprentices under the instruction of 15 master-craftsmen and 65 skilled labourers. Efforts have been made to protect and upgrade public open space through the old city. In the case of Zarnegar Park, to the north of the old city, a degraded space has been transformed through re-planting, installation of irrigation, paving and provision of public facilities. The Park now provides a shady respite on a daily basis for thousands of visitors. Among the socio-economic initiatives supported in the Old City are home-based training and literacy courses for women, and the operation of a restored community bath-house, whose revenue is used to meet the costs of neighbourhood upgrading. A second bath-house is currently under restoration. AKTC staff continue to work closely with members of the Kabul Old City Commission to oversee development in the historic fabric, as well as providing technical support to planners from Kabul Municipality and the Ministry of Urban Development. In 2008, work began on the formulation of a planning framework for the Old City and on proposals for a national policy for urban heritage preservation, with support from the World Bank.