Aga Khan Development Network: Expanding rural support programs in South Asia

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) focuses its efforts in rural development primarily in fragile high-mountain and coastal areas with vulnerable and marginalized populations. The beneficiaries are often cut off from government service provision and living where market linkages are weak and access to technical innovations is limited. In these challenging environments, AKDN’s mission is to transform the quality of life for the populations with whom it works. This requires a multi-input approach, including interventions in education, health, financial services, livelihoods, infrastructure, and local governance—and agriculture. AKDN’s approach rests on the core belief that a sustained impact on quality of life can be achieved by empowering actors in the three domains of society: government, civil society, and the private sector. Such empowerment can ensure that they are active, informed, and capable of interacting appropriately to promote economic and social development.

AKDN’s rural support programs (RSPs) were first initiated in Pakistan in 1982, and subsequently they have been replicated across the country, reaching 4.1 million households in 110 districts through the Rural Support Programme Network. AKDN RSPs now operate in 12 countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. They often work alongside other AKDN agencies with mandates in different sectors to achieve meaningful impact at scale. This brief focuses on experience in Asia, providing an overview of the RSP model, how it has been scaled up over 30 years to reach 5.7 million beneficiaries, and lessons learned.

This brief is one of series on scaling up in agriculture, rural development, and nutrition.

Suter, Henri
Sedowski, Leanne
Trotter, Joanne
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
PDF file: