Islamabad: The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) commemorated 35 years of empowering communities through the Odyssey of Synergies, a development expo and panel discussion at Serena Hotel here on Thursday.
The expo included a photography exhibition highlighting the achievements AKRSP within each of the major components of work, including social organizations, natural resource management, community infrastructure development, credit and savings, enterprise promotion and women’s development.
More than 25 stalls showcased the produce and products of the northern valleys, where AKRSP has been harnessing community potential for 35 years. Community members brought herbal products, organic honey and unusual herbs, mushrooms and dried fruits to sell to an enthusiastic audience in Islamabad. Purveyors of gemstones and jewelry, woodcraft, rugs and carpets, sweaters, handicrafts and accessories travelled to Islamabad with the support of AKRSP.
Aziz Boolani, Chairman AKRSP, welcomed the guests to the panel discussion, sharing the ethos and successes of AKRSP, “AKRSP supports the institutional and economic development of local communities as well as strengthening the collaboration and linkages between local communities and government departments, elected bodies and other development and environmental agencies. AKRSP has been supporting micro-level development in the mountainous rural areas of Pakistan, using participatory approaches.
AKRSP currently focuses on fostering inclusive and competent local institutions that contribute effectively and sustainably to local development and increasing income and employment opportunities for local communities, particularly poor and vulnerable (including youth and women)”.
He said, “The development model adopted by AKRSP has been widely replicated both within AKDN and outside it. A network of Rural Support Programmes now exists all over the country with the mandate to design and implement strategies for alleviation of rural poverty. In South Asia and other parts of the world, programmes based on this model have been set up to promote grassroots development through involvement of local communities. We are very grateful to the organizations that have supported AKRSP over the past 35 years”.
The keynote speaker of the event, Sartaj Aziz, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, said, “I congratulate the AKRSP on having created a model of community and rural development that has been replicated in various other places.”