The overall goal of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is to improve the Quality of Life (QoL) in the areas where its member institutions work. The Network’s vision and strategies encompass an improvement in material standards of living, health and education, as well as a set of values and norms in the organisation of society, which include pluralism and cultural tolerance, gender and social equity, civil society organisation and good governance. The AKDN therefore has a holistic view of what constitutes progress that goes beyond material benefits or only poverty alleviation, and which encompasses a more rounded view of human experience and aspirations.
In 2007, the Aga Khan Development Network initiated Quality of Life assessments in geographical areas where it undertakes multi-input area development programmes. The assessments help to inform AKDN and its partners of the different ways in which people’s lives are changing, bring attention to the issues that are most important in influencing people’s perceptions of what a good or poor quality of life is, and shed light on how the broad changes that affect a given area over time impact people’s lives.
The QoL assessments also provide the Network with the opportunity to reflect on whether (and how) its programme interventions are contributing to change, and the findings are used to help identify gaps and consider adjustments to programme strategy. In 2014, the QoL Assessment Programme was expanded into the QoL Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) Support Unit with a broader remit to support strategic, mission-oriented MER across the AKDN in addition to conducting QoL assessments.
A QoL Technical Working Group was also established in order to promote coordination and efficiency in MER across the AKDN. The group comprises representatives of AKDN agencies who have knowledge and experience of MER relating to the strategic objectives of their respective agency.
QoL Unit Publications:
Kanji N., Sherbut G., Fararoon, R., and Hatcher J.. 2012. “Improving Quality of Life in Remote Mountain Communities: Looking Beyond Market-led Approaches in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan.” Mountain Research and Development. 32 (3): 353-363. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-12-00012.1
Sherbut G. and Kanji, N. 2014. “One size does not fit all: Choosing methods to inform area development.” Development in Practice. 23(8): 950-962. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09614524.2013.841863
Sherbut, G., Kanji N., and Hatcher J. 2015. “Linking past and future: Cross-border development and quality of life in the Badakhshans.” Central Asian Survey. 34(2): 255-271. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02634937.2014.976948
QoL Unit-supported Case Studies:
The West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECo), a public-private partnership formed in 2003 by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), invested in a hydropower station that now provides clean, reliable and affordable electricity to Uganda’s Arua district 24 hours a day. This impact assessment, undertaken in 2015, shows positive results in key economic and social development sectors and illustrates how people’s lives have changed for the better as a result of this investment.
PamirEnergy, a public-private partnership formed by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, began exporting energy from Tajikistan to Afghan Badakhshan in 2008. This innovative, cross-border programme continues to bring electricity to an increasing number of communities, many of which had never had access to reliable and affordable energy. This report provides a summary of interviews that were conducted in 2012 to examine the impact of AKDN’s cross-border energy programme on different aspects of people’s lives. Improvements were documented in the following thematic areas: (1) women, workload and home life, (2) health and health care, (3) economic development, (4) education and (5) community life and government.