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Rural development
In 1982, when the first Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) was started in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, the rugged region was one of the poorest areas in the developing world. Isolated and bypassed by advancements elsewhere, these rural communities of different ethnic and religious backgrounds struggled to eke out a meagre living, farming small holdings in the harsh environment of this mountainous desert ecosystem. The 1.3 million people in the AKRSP programme area lived in small villages widely dispersed throughout an area covering almost 90,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Ireland.