Breathing new life into the legacy of past civilisations calls for a creativity, imagination, tolerance, understanding, and wisdom well beyond the ordinary. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP), established in 1992, implements conservation, urban revitalization and area development projects in historically significant sites of the Islamic world undertaking the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures and public spaces in ways that spur social, economic and cultural development. Its projects seek to mobilize local potential and resources in order to ensure their eventual self-sustainability through operational income, human resource development and institutional management capabilities. Through this integrated approach, the Programme seeks to demonstrate that strengthening cultural identity can go hand in hand with socio-economic progress.
Going beyond mere restoration of monuments, the Programme engages in activities related to adaptive re-use, contextual urban planning and the improvement of housing, infrastructure and public spaces. It carries out related socio-economic development initiatives directed at upgrading local living conditions and improving quality of life.
Investments in single project locations or regions are coordinated with other Aga Khan Development Network programmes so that they reinforce each other as they grow together into a critical mass for positive change. In all project locations, community participation and training of local professionals are essential components.
A survey of the archaeological and architectural sites in the Wakhan was undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture-Afghanistan (AKTC-A) in 2007. The oral testimony project which collected the folk tales was undertaken in 2008 by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) with the support of AKTC-A. The oral testimony project was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and represents part of their continuing commitment to the promotion of sustainable cultural tourism in Afghanistan. All the recordings are in the Dari language. English translations are available in Part 1 of Tales from the Wakhan: Folklore & Archaeology of the Wakhan Corridor.