The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government in collaboration with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) Pakistan have announced a joint project worth $4.2 million to plant 50 million trees across the region to tackle climate change and protect against natural disasters.
Pakistan ranks among the top 10 countries affected by climate-induced disasters in the last two decades. Within Pakistan, mountainous areas such as G-B are acutely vulnerable to natural disasters including flash floods, mudflows, landslides and glacial lake outburst floods.
The project will use tree plantation to absorb carbon and stabilise soil and slopes in hazard prone areas, mitigating climate change and disaster risk.
The G-B government will contribute $4.2 million to the four-year project, leveraged by a $537,000 grant from the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the environment.
The Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department of G-B will plant 50 million trees on 300 sites, with technical support from the AKAH.
The AKAH will use its hazard, vulnerability, risk assessment methodology to identify hazard-prone and steep-slope sites, which could benefit from plantation for stabilisation, particularly along roads and critical infrastructure.
Drawing on its expertise in building water supply systems for hundreds of settlements across the region, the AKAH will provide technical support to build or expand the water supply infrastructure and solar-powered pumps to provide water for the plantations.
Shahid Zaman, secretary forest and wildlife, thanked the non-government organisation for the collaboration, saying the G-B authorities acknowledged the development work carried out by Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the area.
“The AKAH Pakistan’s initiatives to provide safe water, build resilient infrastructure, and increase communities’ disaster risk preparedness and response in the face of climate change has brought about much change already,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) AKAH, Nawaz Ali Khan said his organistaion is excited to join hands with the forest department on this project particularly as it directly contributes to the AKDN’s climate change strategy and government’s vision of a ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’.
This initiative builds on the broader work and expertise of AKAH and the AKDN in promoting sustainable development in the region.
Sharing his views, Aga Khan Council for Pakistan President Hafiz Sher Ali said: “I am pleased to see AKAH’s continued collaboration with the government of Gilgit-Baltistan in many areas of development in the region. The AKDN has a long history of collaboration with the government of Pakistan to support its efforts in diverse sectors of development with the aim of improving the quality of life of the people of Pakistan.”
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