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  • University of Central Asia, Khorog, Tajikistan.
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
University of Central Asia
Building university towns in Central Asia

As economic development is at the heart of the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) overall strategy, the UCA has been supporting the transformation of its undergraduate campus towns in Khorog (Tajikistan) and Naryn (Kyrgyzstan) into “university towns”. Through the University Town Development project, UCA aims to serve as a catalyst for the development of Naryn and Khorog by strengthening existing enterprises and promoting the establishment of new ones.

In addition to offering undergraduate students academic qualifications of an international standard, UCA, in partnership with Government and other Aga Khan Development agencies, is pursuing social sector development initiatives in education, health, hospitality, tourism, enterprise, and rural development.

In Khorog, these initiatives include a Medical Centre for outpatient and expanded inpatient services, training and courses, learning materials, medical equipment, pharmacies and teleconsultations at several institutions in conjunction with the Aga Khan Health Services, as well as a wide range of interventions supported by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in health promotion, facility rehabilitation and equipping, pharmaceutical procurement, distribution and sales, and training in new clinical and managerial practices. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) has rehabilitated Pamir Energy, a hydroelectric plant that provides the town with electricity 24/7, converted a building into a Serena Hotel, and invested in a mobile phone operator. The Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), which is part of AKF, has promoted sustainable agricultural intensification and land management, improved and expanded public and private services, constructed a cross-border bridge to Afghanistan (and a cross-border market), renovated 12 sports fields and two gyms in Khorog, and created an organisation to promote tourism, among other initiatives.

Kishvar Shamiri, the Mayor of Khorog, lauds the cooperation between the Government and the Aga Khan Development Network that created the state-of-the-art UCA campus in Khorog: “It is the result of this co-operation that the intellectual space, which is being operated in line with international standards in Khorog, involves the youth of our country getting an education of an international standard,” he notes. “Also, the design of UCA gives our town a new and attractive image.”


University of Central Asia, Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic.
AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer

In Naryn, the University has implemented several projects related to the environment, recreation, health, culture, and education for the Naryn community. Through the Aga Khan Health Services, it created the Medical and Diagnostic Centre that provides healthcare to Naryn residents and UCA students, faculty and staff. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture supported the rehabilitation of the Seitaaly Jakypov Park. UCA supported an archaeological excavation on the Naryn campus site since 2012. It has also provided short-cycle professional education at UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education, covering a broad range of skills such as entrepreneurship, English, mental math for children, business planning, and Information Technology. UCA’s TV production studio at the Naryn campus has been built and is functioning while, in the future, UCA and Aga Khan Education Services, in conjunction with the Naryn municipality, are planning to establish an Early Childhood Centre and school in Naryn Town. AKFED is also studying placing a Serena hotel in the town.

“I am confident that in the future, the city of Naryn, located along the Great Silk Road, will become a strategically important city that will develop in all respects,” said Emilbek Alymkulov, Governor of Naryn. “The achievement of such tremendous goals depend on the activities of our state, our people, and the support of international partners. I wish that, in the future, based on our cooperation with the Aga Khan Development Network, we will together implement a lot more projects.”

The work includes partnering with town municipalities to work on the master plan for the development of Naryn and Khorog. UCA has published two comprehensive brochures covering the work of AKDN agencies in Naryn and Khorog.

They are available for download from UCA’s website at: