Islamabad, Pakistan, 6 October 2020 - The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), Pakistan and the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan announced a $4.2 million project to plant 50 million trees across the region to reduce climate change and protect against natural disasters.
Pakistan ranks among the top ten countries affected by climate-induced disasters in the last two decades. Within Pakistan, mountain areas such as Gilgit-Baltistan, are acutely vulnerable to natural disasters including flash floods, mudflows, landslides and glacial lake outburst floods. The project will use tree plantation to absorb carbon and stabilise soil and slopes in hazard prone areas, mitigating climate change and disaster risk. The Government of Gilgit Baltistan will contribute $4.2 million to the four-year project, leveraged by a $537,000 grant from the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment.
The Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department of the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan will plant 50 million trees on 300 sites, with technical support from AKAH. AKAH will use its hazard, vulnerability, risk assessment methodology to identify hazard-prone and steep-slope sites, which could benefit from plantation for stabilization, particularly along roads and critical infrastructure. Drawing on its expertise in building water supply systems for hundreds of settlements across the region, AKAH will provide technical support to build or expand the water supply infrastructure and solar-powered pumps to provide water for the plantations.
Speaking of the partnership, Mr Shahid Zaman, Secretary Forest and Wildlife, said “we are grateful to AKAH, who have joined us to provide technical support for the implementation of this very important project which has a global significance around climate change mitigation. The Government of Gilgit-Baltistan admires the work that the AKDN has done for development in the area. AKAH Pakistan’s initiatives to provide safe water, build resilient infrastructure, and increase communities’ disaster risk preparedness and response in the face of climate change has brought about much change already. Through this partnership we expect a big impact in the future.”
Nawab Ali Khan, Chief Executive Officer, AKAH Pakistan shared that “AKAH, P is excited to partner with the Forest Department on this project particularly as it directly contributes to the AKDN’s Climate Change Strategy and to Government’s vision of a green and clean Pakistan”.
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Mehar Aftab Salma
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) works to ensure that people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of climate change and natural disasters; that those who live in high-risk areas are prepared to cope with and respond to disasters; and that these settings have access to basic services providing opportunities for a better quality of life. AKAH aims to help communities living on the frontlines of climate change – particularly in high mountains or urban centres – adapt and thrive by building resilient habitats and reducing emissions. Established in 2015, AKAH combines several agencies and programmes of the AKDN that had been operational since the 1990s in South and Central Asia, including Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, the Disaster Risk Management Initiative and the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment. AKAH’s countries of operation include Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Syria, Pakistan and India.