Zarafshon Valley, Tajikistan, 13 March 2023 – Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the European Union (EU) have launched a €16 million programme to improve natural resource management and living conditions in Zarafshon Valley in Tajikistan’s mountainous northwest. Part of the EU’s Rural Development Programme, INVEST – Integrated Natural Resources Management in Zarafshon Valley for Equitable and Sustainable Development – represents the EU’s largest ever contribution to AKF’s development work in Tajikistan.
Zarafshon Valley lies in the northwestern Sughd province. Like much of the country, the landscape is mountainous, and the villages are located high up in the mountains whilst the river flows much lower down in the valley. Coupled with a lack of infrastructure to connect the villages to the river, this means that access to clean and safe drinking water is an ongoing challenge. The harsh mountain terrain also makes it extremely difficult to grow crops sustainably.
Drawing on AKF’s long-standing relationships with mountain communities through its Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, as well as the targeted expertise of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), the INVEST programme will take a multi-sectoral approach to strengthen the sustainable management and protection of natural resources, boost food security and nutrition, and improve living standards. Through a partnership with a non-commercial, local cooperative, Sarob, the programme will also provide specialised agricultural support. Together, we aim to reach more than 380,000 people in Zarafshon Valley over five years.