The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the UK government have a long history of cooperation around the world, dating back to the 19th century. In 1988, the AKDN signed a strategic partnership agreement with the then Overseas Development Administration, now known as the Department for International Development (DFID). In recent decades, cooperation with DIFD, CDC (Commonwealth Development Corporation), and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has focused on regions of the world such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, and East Africa.
Long-lasting achievements together include DFID’s support of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in Pakistan in the late 1980’s, which helped establish community-led programming as a new paradigm for development. Today, this approach has been adopted by governments, multilateral agencies, and NGOs throughout Asia and Africa.
The partnership has also rested on another shared principle: that women and girls can and must be included in all programmes in order for development to be truly effective, equitable, and sustainable. For over a century, AKDN has emphasised the education of girls as well as boys. Building on this legacy, DfID has recently partnered with the Aga Khan Foundation and its partners to improve girls’ education across Afghanistan. The programme is one of the largest implemented under DFID’s Girls Education Challenge, working in 16 provinces, and helping over 300,000 Afghan girls go to school, stay enrolled, and improve their learning.
AKDN and the UK government share the conviction that social development must also always be complemented with economic opportunities. In 2017 the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) and CDC Group plc invested US$140 million to create a joint power platform to develop and invest in power projects in Africa (including Bujagali Hydro Power), mobilising further project funding of US$ over 1billion for new projects like the 147MW Ruzizi III project in the Great Lakes region.