In the Kyrgyz Repubic, less than three percent of the remote, mountainous terrain in Naryn Oblast is arable, much less suitable for vegetable cultivation. As a result, for generations the local population of 260,000 people has had little access to fresh vegetables during the long and harsh winter months, causing high rates of vitamin deficiency and health-related problems.
With the help of AKF's Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, small-scale farmers have constructed cold climate Chinese-style solar greenhouses, which are contributing to increased dietary diversity and improved nutrition in the region by growing vegetables during the winter even when temperatures drop as low as -20°C/-4 F.
The greenhouses are built with stone walls which absorb and retain solar energy and keep the temperatures inside constantly above freezing without additional heating. As a result, for the first time, children and their families are eating locally grown cucumbers and tomatoes throughout the year.
"Each generation must leave for its successors an enhanced and sustainable social and physical environment". His Highness the Aga Khan speaking at the ninth Award Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, New Delhi, India - 27 November 2004.