Presided over by the Governor of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) Yodgr Fayzov, a meeting of the Resilient Khorog Steering Committee took place in Khorog on May 27.

According to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Tajikistan, the event that was held within the framework of the SECO funded Khorog Urban Resilience Program (KURP), brought together representatives from national government, GBAO local authorities, Khorog municipality, and international agencies. 

The forum reportedly provided the opportunity for the meeting participants to discuss the progress on the Khorog Urban Resilience Program as well as provide strategic inputs to the program components. 

To guide the future sustainable growth of Khorog, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) has partnered with UN-Habitat, experts in the field of resilient and sustainable urban and rural planning.  The Steering Committee participants were presented with results of UN-Habitat’s technical analysis, diagnosis of the key issues facing Khorog, and strategic recommendations.  The recommendations also followed the Swiss approach to sustainable city development, focusing on integrating hazards into urban planning.

Commenting on the recommendations, GBAO Governor noted: “Findings from various research in the address of the issues including the urban analysis are incredibly important and have to be referred to in order to achieve the goal that we are striving to.  But it needs multiple inputs, resources, energy, time, and lots of investment. And my hope in this regard is that together with UN-Habitat, partner agencies, and with the support of the government we will be successful in transforming Khorog into a resilient city.” 

The Deputy Director of the Committee for Architecture and Construction of Tajikistan noted: “Town and rural settlement development process is on the agenda of the Committee for Architecture and Construction and the normative acts, regulations, including the scope of work, and requirements are being developed accordingly.  And in this regard, I am really looking forward to the best practices, lesson learned and a model of a resilient city from this ambitious program.”

The Steering Committee reportedly agreed on the next steps for incorporating the recommendations into the updated town plan for Khorog and into policy, at city and regional level.  The Swiss Cooperation Office noted that it is important to think about the E-Governance, recycling and waste management as part of the town planning process and urbanization.

Additional workpackages, discussed at the Resilient Steering Committee meeting, included the Khorog Municipal Platform that is aimed at increasing stakeholder engagement and promoting a unified understanding of resiliency.

The Mayor of Khorog commented: “This is very ambitious to develop a Municipal Platform for Khorog. A very good start as it aligns with the government strategy that requires the development of E-Governance in Tajikistan.  However, before moving forward it is important to think about how SMART is the target objective considering the context and reality of Khorog. Including the technical capacity, resources and finance it requires.  It should go through the knowledge validation and be based on the legal instrument, and finally go through the Risk management.”

The Steering Committee also included the Opening Ceremony for the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Center at the Office of the GBAO Governor.  The SDI Center will provide a unified database linked to the Emergencies Committee, the DRR focal point at the Deputy Prime Ministers Office and the Main Department of Geology to support with response during a natural disaster as well as to support with land use planning.  

Discussions at both the technical and strategic levels considered how the project can support the implementation of the KURP initiative and transformation of the Khorog into a safe, sustainable resilient city.

KURP is a five-year initiative designed to set up the structures, systems and capacity to transform Khorog into a model resilient city, promoting sustainable economic growth and investment. The program links the Government of Tajikistan structures, planning and investments to initiatives by the community and national and international partners to build resilience and plan for opportunity for Khorog. Anchor funding is provided by the Economic Cooperation and Development Division of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), with co-funding from the agencies of the AKDN, the European Union and the Embassy of Japan. KURP is implemented by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, with support from the Aga Khan Foundation

AKAH, which merges the capabilities of Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, and the Aga Khan Development Network’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative, focuses on preparing for both sudden and slow-onset disasters.  AKAH works to ensure that poor people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters; that residents who do live in high-risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response; and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunity and a better quality of life. Initially, priority areas of AKAH will include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and India.