In North Pakistan, winters in the mountains are harsh and natural disasters are part of life. Wide-scale forest destruction causes damage from flooding and disrupts the country’s water supply because the region acts as a watershed.
Over 14 years ago, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Service (AKPBS) began a concerted drive to make homes in North Pakistan warmer, and reduce the use of wood. Based on the Aga Khan’s belief that: “A proper home can bridge that terrible gap between poverty and a better future” the programme is doing just that for over 240,000 people.
Today over 100 ‘resource people’ work in their own villages promoting energy efficient products. A US$80 package could include floor insulation, an efficient cook stove with a chimney to let smoke out, a water heater, and a roof hatch window that cuts out draughts and lets in light, also fresh air when needed.
AKPBS trains local people as artisans and entrepreneurs and has created over 360 new jobs. Over 50,000 products have been sold through word of mouth, tours and demonstration homes. Homes are warmer and families save money on fuel-wood and, by ridding their homes of smoke, they avoid respiratory problems too. And local trees and the environment are protected, with about 100,000 tonnes of wood and 160,000 tonnes of CO2 saved each year. Looking ahead, AKPBS hopes to attract carbon finance to extend this successful approach to other Himalayan countries.