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Habitat plans to be developed for disaster-prone areas

Islamabad:The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), Pakistan, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Office of Sustainability, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) to develop sustainable habitat plans for disaster-prone valleys in northern parts of Pakistan.

Through this partnership, the AKAH will collaborate with the NUST to develop habitat plans for five valleys in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral that are vulnerable to climate change induced disasters.

The partners will conduct socio-economic, cultural, and environmental assessments and research to develop innovative contextual spatial plans with rigorous stakeholder participation. The habitats plans will provide a road map for all development partners and stakeholders to optimise resources and help build safe and resilient habitat where individuals, families and communities can thrive.

Dr. Rizwan Riaz, pro-rector RIC NUST, said embedding core principles of sustainability was one of the strategic aims of NUST. We aim to align all of NUST’s core functions i.e. academics and students’ engagement, research and innovation, operations and governance, and stakeholders management with the UN SDGs thereby transforming NUST into an SDG-engaged, 4th generation university in Pakistan.

Nawab Ali Khan, chief executive officer of the AKAH, Pakistan, said in the last few years, Pakistan had faced the worst impact of climate-induced disasters of its history. “Lives have been lost, millions of people have become homeless, and the country has suffered major economic losses. One of the accentuating causes is that people build on unsafe locations,” he said. He said the AKAH believed that major loss and human suffering could be significantly reduced by building in locations that were safer and provided future growth opportunities.

“It is crucial to ensure that the development of existing and future settlements is based on proper planning, that incorporates scientific and indigenous knowledge. The partnership agreement between NUST and AKAH will bring together the scientific and field-based knowledge, to develop context-specific and research driven solutions in order to create resilient communities in Pakistan,” he said.

He said for last the two decades, the AKAH had been working in coastal and mountainous areas of Pakistan, to build safe and resilient communities, providing access to WASH facilities and offering services to build disaster and climate resilient structures.

“Going forward, AKAH aims to design its interventions around habitat planning with a greater focus on safe structures, green building, and initiatives to reduce carbon emission to contribute to Pakistan’s broader sustainable development and climate action goals,” he said.

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