Communities took an active involvement in the project right from the outset.

AKDN / Subhiya Mamadzamirova

In Khorog, for example, the projects selected by locals include both educational and leisure facilities– a school, a sports stadium and several playgrounds – as well as more critical infrastructure, like a water supply system and riverbank stabilisation measures.

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), in partnership with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDPSP) and the Government of Tajikistan, has been working alongside communities in a series of building projects designed to help stimulate the local economy and create jobs in the face of an economic downturn and the global pandemic. Funded by the European Union, the 18-month project aims to foster peace and stability in Khorog Town by improving public infrastructure and services, strengthening confidence in local authorities, and generating temporary employment opportunities through construction work. Its ultimate aim is to improve the quality of life.

“We knew that for it to truly have value for the communities,” said Manzura Bakhdavlatova, AKAH’s Project Manager, “it needed to have their input from the very start. What we are witnessing now through the community’s control over the construction work and its quality is that sense of ownership of these projects.”

The projects also enjoy local and regional government support. Yodgor Fayzov, Governor of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), recently visited the construction sites, remarking, “These projects will greatly improve the wellbeing of residents across Khorog town.”

Key stakeholders are regularly engaged in the projects, including through site selection, facility design, and continual feedback and consultation. While the pandemic has brought new challenges to the work, around 150 community members involved in the construction chose to “Stay and Deliver”, under strict precautionary measures, to ensure these projects were completed.