Aga Khan Trust for Culture - Urban Conservation and Area Development in Afghanistan
Involvement of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP) in the urban regeneration process in Afghanistan began in Kabul in 2002 and in Herat in 2004, as part of the Aga Khan Development Network’s contribution to the wider process of recovery and development in the country. While half a decade is a relatively modest period in the timeline of such ancient urban settlements, it is perhaps apt that the Programme pauses if ever so briefly to take stock of how far our initiatives have come from their point of origin, and how the enabling measures agreed with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its key municipal agencies have contributed to what is an ongoing restorative process. Urban regeneration in historic cities is perhaps one of the most intellectually and technically challenging enterprises that society as a whole and the urban planning community in particular can engage in, even under peacetime circumstances. Embarking on this multi-variable, multi-stakeholder and multi-phase process in a post-conflict situation such as Afghanistan has experienced in recent decades has been both a humbling and morally compelling mission. In the face of such wide-scale loss of urban housing, services and infrastructure – the basic elements of civic order – urban planning often can appear to be as much an act of faith as a technical undertaking.