Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Four areas selected for the project include Chuinj, Gharamhashma, Susoom and Herchine in Chitral district of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan with a total population of around 35000. The main source of income in these areas is considered to be subsistence agriculture with average land holding of less than one hectare; 90% of the population is engaged in farming. A household income and expenditure survey conducted by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in Northern Areas and Chitral in 1991 revealed that 75% household income was being derived through off-farm sources in Chitral. The socioeconomic status of the majority of the population is very low in these areas as compared to other villages in the district. According to socio- economic survey conducted by AKRSP in 2005, 41% of the population of the district live below the poverty line and an additional 16% qualify as ‘vulnerable’ or in danger of falling under the poverty line. According to 1998 census report, the literacy rate of the district was 40%. The literacy ratio in female was 22% while male literacy rate was 58%. Though the ethnic region of Chitralis (inhabitants of Chitral) is associated with central Asia's cultures but being part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, the Chitrali society is highly influenced by the neighboring Pathan / Pushtun and Afghan customs and traditions, resulting in conservatively restricted participation and mobility of women folk in the mainstream activities of socio-economic development. In the recent decades, there has been an increasing trend of providing early age education to girls but in fact, higher education for females is still not being taken seriously, which results in lack of leadership among the local women in Chitral. As a tradition, women are considering to be responsible for household chores, taking care of children and livestock and participating in farming activities with their male counterparts.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Founder of this initiative is Aga Khan Health Service Pakistan (AKHS, P)- a subsidiary of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). AKDN has a long history and tradition of serving the humanity and those living in the most difficult situation across the developing world through pioneering evidence-based interventions. Aga Khan Development Network-is a conglomerate of multisectoral institution. AKHS, P is recognized as one of the leading non-governmental organization in health in Pakistan. It operates a large network of more than 100 primary and secondary care facilities across the country. AKHS, P believes in the philosophy of “Care is Cure." In the area of women and child health, AKHS, P has already demonstrated noteworthy models and achievements. Increasing report of suicide, particularly among girls and women from Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan during the last few years drew AKHS, P’s attention towards exploring the underlying causes of mental illness. The socio-environmental situation and vulnerability of women to mental illnesses, prompted AKHS, P to develop this idea of "LHV based mental health program." This is the first research proposal selected by recently launched “Yale World Fellow Program research grant” in which researchers from Pakistan, Iran and US worked together to develop this model.