Khorog, Tajikistan: AKAH is implementing a five-year initiative to develop plans, capacity, and structures to transform this high-altitude town into a model resilient city.
Khorog, Tajikistan: AKAH is implementing a five-year initiative to develop plans, capacity, and structures to ...
AKAH works with communities to develop detailed hazard, vulnerability and risk assessments that map hazards and safe areas; and then helps communities use this data to make disaster management and habitat plans.
AKAH works with communities to develop detailed hazard, vulnerability and risk assessments that map hazards an...
Fifty-five percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. More than half of these live in rapidly growing secondary cities and towns. Managing urban growth in a way that improves quality of life for all residents is therefore critical to sustainable development.
We must also tackle inequality and address the lack of resources and critical infrastructure. Part of the solution lies in better planning urban and rural settlements, ensuring opportunity for a better future. Yet there is a lack of understanding, capacity, practice and adapted methods for planning in the developing world.
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) has developed a holistic approach to habitat planning. We combine urban and rural participatory planning techniques with international best practice and local expertise to help communities to design a better future.
Our Habitat Planning Programme unites data-driven decision making with the vision and voice of the community. We work with communities to plan how to make their neighbourhoods, villages and towns safer and resilient and create opportunities for future generations.
Through participatory practices and community-led design, the Habitat Plan captures a long-term vision of what the community aspires to be in the future. We analyse future needs and trends using satellite imagery, field-based data, qualitative surveys and hazard analysis to assess physical, social, political, environmental, cultural, and land-use practices. We then develop a spatial and land-use plan to meet the community’s vision and future objectives.
We work in over 100 settlements across our five countries of operation to develop habitat plans ranging from urban hubs to regional or district capitals to remote villages. We cover a total population of over a million people.
Building on the legacy of community-driven rural development of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programmes, demand-driven participatory planning is a central tenant of AKAH’s habitat planning process. To further build local ownership and long-term sustainability, we work in close collaboration with national and government planning bodies.
Capacity building and research are at the core of our practices, through collaborations with leading academic institutions, private sector and international organisations to draw from and expand on global best practices. We have conducted design studios with MIT, Harvard and Kabul University and is collaborating with UN Habitat to advance planning, policy and design for sustainable urbanisation.
AKAH’s Habitat Planning Framework covers an eight-step process guiding communities and experts through a participatory, data-driven planning, design and implementation process. The framework integrates rural and urban planning best practices; national, regional and local plans and policies; community level plans and knowledge; and hazard, land-use, socio-economic and demographic data.
The process starts with scoping and site selection and community and government engagement. This is followed by in-depth habitat assessment of physical, land-use, and socio-economic needs and priorities. We then develop physical designs to address these priorities and work with communities and partners to plan, implement and monitor these actions.
The process can be applied to various spatial scales – from the neighbourhood level, to the village, through to a village cluster or sub-district scale – to develop short, medium and long-term plans.
AKAH has developed a digital tool to assess:
The tool looks at the current situation and forecasts growth and longer-term needs for the region to enable future spatial planning. Combining data from international external sources, sentinel remote sensing data and on-site assessments, the tool provides GIS and Geo-AI analysis and modelling to inform habitat planning initiatives.
Basid, Tajikistan: A Vision for Safe Resettlement
Basid village, located in the mountains of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, Tajikistan faces multiple natural hazards. Located under Lake Sarez, an unstable glacial lake, the village was struck by massive mudflows in 2010 which wiped away many homes and farms and an earthquake in 2015 that caused devastating damage. Fortunately, there is a nearby safe place where the people of Basid can and want to move. They asked AKAH to help them plan this resettlement.
Working with the community, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at MIT and the design firm, KVA MATx, we developed a plan with design options and recommendations for a phased relocation of this mountain village. The plan provides a flexible and scalable approach for improving access; providing clean water; enriching the land through soil and vegetation conservation; and designing safer and greener homes, community spaces and village layout. Read more
Dasht-e-Dehkhaw: Relocating to a Safer Habitat
Dasht-e-Dehkhaw village in Afghan Badakhshan suffered a devastating flood in 2017, leaving many displaced and much of the village destroyed. To ensure the safety of the community, we have launched a habitat planning project and are working with the community to relocate to a safer place nearby in Darwaz, Badakhshan.
The project aims to apply participatory and resilient planning approaches to create a liveable and safe place for rural life. In order to best maintain cultural autonomy, the entire village will be relocated through joint efforts by key stakeholders. The habitat planning process will look at current and future needs for the community for housing, essential services, and critical access routes to develop locally adapted spatial plans and designs. During site planning, the district road has been relocated to reduce vehicle movement in newly designated residential neighbourhoods.
Ishkashim: Pushing the Frontiers of Urban Planning
Ishkashim is a small mountain town in Badakhshan, Afghanistan along the border with Tajikistan, connecting a trade corridor from China to Pakistan. It has a bustling market and strong potential for tourism and economic growth. It is also highly vulnerable to natural hazards, including landslides, avalanches, earthquakes and floods.
Inclusive, intelligent and sustainable planning is required to harness these prospects while mitigating the risks and improving the quality of life of all its residents.
The town is linked economically, socially, and politically to 20 villages, which together can be considered a single, larger settlement. Our habitat planning approach considers the future design, planning and development of these settlements together, recognising the interconnectedness and exchange between urban and rural communities and expanding beyond the traditional context of urban planning.
Through a virtual design studio in collaboration with Harvard University and Kabul University, we are testing innovative remote planning approaches to bring world-class planning expertise to Ishkashim. Read more
Khorog, Tajikistan: Resilient Urban Planning in the Pamir Mountains
Khorog is one of the highest altitude urban settlements in Central Asia and the administrative centre of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), Tajikistan. It faces the challenges of multiple natural and environmental hazards compounded by rapid urbanisation. For a town built for 15,000 people with a current population of 40,000 projected to double by 2040, resilient urban planning is critical to securing its future.
The Khorog Urban Resilience Programme is a five-year initiative designed to set up the structures, systems and capacity to transform Khorog into a model resilient city, promoting sustainable economic growth and investment. The programme links the plans, structures and investments of the Government of Tajikistan to resilience building and planning initiatives of the community and national and international partners in Khorog.
With funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the European Union and the Embassy of Japan, we are working with the Government of GBAO to plan and mobilise resources for a 15-year programme of work to upgrade aging economic, social and health infrastructure. This includes a collaboration with the Committee of Architecture and Construction and UN-HABITAT to upgrade the existing Government approved town plan.
We have also completed several key infrastructure projects including extending water supply to underserved areas; reinforcing flood-prone portions of Khorog’s riverbank; and constructing or upgrading schools, playgrounds and a youth centre. Read more
Chitrawad, Gujarat, India: Disaster Resilient Village Planning
In Chitrawad village in the Gir-Somnath District of Gujarat, India, we are working with the community on a participatory habitat planning process. This aims to improve housing and water and sanitation infrastructure while reducing social exclusion and environmental and natural hazard risk.
We undertook a community visioning exercise to identify residents’ key priorities for the future development of their village, which included: reducing physical vulnerabilities to flooding; creating spaces for social inclusion; and ensuring environmental sustainability of water and waste management. We worked with the community to develop short- and long-term plans to address these issues, aligned with government planning and infrastructure works.
Based on these plans, we have reconstructed or repaired 62 houses; improved drainage infrastructure, introduced rainwater harvesting systems and other water management practices to recharge ground aquifers; and implemented wastewater management systems. Read more