We want to ensure that the Earth can sustainably support current and future generations.
AKDN agencies, with local communities, are harnessing nature’s ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Our diverse activities include:
- reforestation in mountainous Asia;
- planting tropical forests in East Africa;
- creating mangrove plantations in coastal areas of the Indian ocean;
- creating and maintaining urban green spaces; and
- promoting conservation agriculture techniques in Southeast Asia and Africa.
AKDN agencies planted over 3.2 million trees in 2021. We ensure this work is sustainable. For example, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s (AKAH) collaboration with the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan includes installing solar-powered water pumps and water infrastructure. This ensures sufficient water for the tree plantation sites.
Tree planting not only helps absorb carbon, but when carefully situated can contribute to disaster risk mitigation, wind protection, shade, wastewater filtration and groundwater recharge. The Aga Khan University (AKU) has planted 40,000 moringa trees in rural Sindh, Pakistan, a region where malnutrition is a serious concern. This is a resilient native species with very high nutritious value. Its leaves have seven times more vitamin C than oranges and 15 times more potassium than bananas. It also has calcium, protein, iron and amino acids. Moringa trees also absorb up to two and half times the amount of carbon than other trees in the region.
Energy is by far the biggest source of human greenhouse gas emissions. AKDN promotes de-carbonisation of our energy systems by investing in zero-emission renewable energy.
- The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development’s (AKFED) energy plants in East Africa and Central Asia generated over 1.8 billion kWh of clean electricity in 2021.
- The Bujagali hydropower plant on the River Nile reuses water used for generation in upstream power projects and has increased Uganda’s effective generation capacity by a third.
- Pamir Energy supplies clean electricity to 96 percent of the population of Badakhshoni Kuhi in Tajikistan.
- The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) focuses on small-scale projects such as off-grid micro-hydel projects, managed by communities. Over 32,000 people are using this infrastructure.
- The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in India provides farmers with solar photovoltaic systems to power their irrigation and drinking water supply.
- AKF has provided solar-powered smart toilets for government schools in Bihar, India. Girls no longer need to go home to use the toilet, allowing them to spend more time in school, and a biodigester enables farmers to use the waste as organic fertiliser.
- AKFED printing and packaging company Allpack is powered by more than 1,400 solar panels, eliminating 90,750 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year and winning an award at the 2020 Energy Management Awards in Kenya.
In arid countries of East Africa and Central Asia, water availability is an increasing concern. Small-scale farmers are dependent on erratic and increasingly scarce rain. Infrequent rains and extreme weather conditions have resulted in reduced crop yields and, in turn, household incomes. To be able to thrive in a changing climate, these farmers need access to drought-tolerant and early maturing crops along with investments in saving water and improved irrigation.
AKF has worked with more than 570,000 farmers and 12,000 local natural resources management institutions to help them adapt their farming systems to the changing climate. New techniques and inputs include identifying appropriate seed varieties, planning for soil health management and implementing water management innovations, including solar-based irrigation systems and micro-irrigation devices. AKF has established more than 7,000 irrigation schemes, which have irrigated over 220,000 hectares of land.
In Madagascar, AKF has introduced a new rice cultivation technique, the Zanatany Rice Permaculture System. This allows smallholder farmers to maintain their rice yields, while significantly reducing labour requirements and irrigation needs and consequently greenhouse gas emissions. The technique is now being adopted elsewhere in Africa and India.
AKFED also helps farmers to address these challenges. Frigoken, an AKFED company, is the largest vegetable processing company in East Africa. It works directly with thousands of small-scale farmers to employ climate-resilient agricultural practices such as the sustainable and efficient use of water. The company also works with the farmers and other partners to tailor-make solutions such as furrows, wells, communal pumps and drip irrigation.
Meanwhile, the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) research on sustainable livestock farming is helping the Kyrgyz Republic adapt to drought and land degradation.
Natural Resource Management
AKAH integrates Eco Disaster Risk Reduction and Natural Resource Management programmes across its projects. It works with communities in Tajikistan, India and Syria to map and model water resources, introduce water conservation and recharge measures, and strengthen water management and governance. It supports community-owned plans for land use, which also improve agriculture and livelihoods.
AKF supports an array of natural resource management tchniques. In 2021, it brought 24,000 hectares of natural resource assets under low emission and climate resilient management practices.