This week witnessed a significant step forward in cross-border cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.  The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Tajikistan under the Supporting Cooperation and Opportunities for Regional Economic Development (SCORED) project has organized a Project Steering Committee in order to bring the high-level Tajik and Afghan Government representatives and the representatives of European Union in Tajikistan and Afghanistan together to enhance the cross border regional cooperation, says press release issued by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Office in Tajikistan.

The commission was reportedly conducted with the participation of the Minister of Transport of Tajikistan – Mr. Azim Ibrohim, Chief Inspector of Customs Service under the Government of Tajikistan – Mr. Timur Arabov, Head of the European Union Delegation to Tajikistan – Ambassador Marilyn Josefson, Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Tajikistan – Mr. Qozidavlat Qoimdodov, Chief Executive Officer of AKF Tajikistan – Mr. Kishwar Abdulalishoev, representatives of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) and Khatlon Province and other distinguished government representatives from Tajik side and Minister of Economy of Afghanistan – Dr. Karima Hamed Faryabi, Takhar Province Governor – Mr. Al Haj Malawi Abdullah Qarluq, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Afghanistan – Mr. Von Brandt, representative of EU Delegation to Afghanistan – Mr. Khudodod Mahmoud, Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Afghanistan – Hirji Sheherazade, Chief Executive Officer of AKF Afghanistan – Dr. Najmuddin Najm and other esteemed government representatives from Afghan side.

In order to achieve the overall objective of promoting economic development and regional integration in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, AKF believes it is essential to work alongside the government structures at all levels to promote sustainable regional cooperation.  AKF is organizing the Project Steering Committee each year in support of creating a platform for the Government and the donor for discussing regional cooperation and cross-border economic integration.  Development of key infrastructure, particularly the cross-border bridge and road require discussions around security issues, smooth process of cross-border bridge and road construction and future development of cross-border economic intervention between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.  In addition, Project Steering Committee facilitates interactions on the district level (between GBAO and Khatlon Province Tajikistan and Badakhshan, Takhar and Kunduz provinces Afghanistan) to identify potential opportunities for collaboration and to enhance regional economic intervention between two neighboring countries.

This SCORED project is financed in partnership with the European Union (EU) with the overall objective to catalyze regional economic development and integration in the border regions of Afghanistan and Tajikistan and specific objective being to facilitate an enabling environment for local business development, trade and production in the target areas. Access to financial and business services is to be improved in Tajikistan through both economic and infrastructure development, including the construction of cross-border rural infrastructure – cross border Bridge, road and Market.

The overall budget of the SCORED project is over €20 million (approximately 218,784,710.55 million somonis) and includes local business development support and the improvement of economic infrastructure.  The cross-border bridge and road construction is financed by the European Commission through Pakistan Afghanistan Tajikistan Regional Integration Program (PATRIP) Foundation.

Established in 1967, the Aga Khan Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life, enhance self-reliance and promote pluralism in poor and marginalized communities of Africa and Asia.  It is one of the world’s leading international development organizations.

AKF’s long-term, community-based approach addresses and benefits people of all faiths and backgrounds, especially women and girls.  The Foundation supports people to become self-reliant and equal partners in their own development.  Its activities enhance agriculture and food security, promote early childhood development and access to quality education, improve health and nutrition, advance economic inclusion, and strengthen civil society.