The initiative is a project of the Aga Khan Development Network

Aga Khan Development Network

"Development is sustainable only if the beneficiaries become, in a gradual manner, the masters of the process. This means that initiatives cannot be contemplated exclusively in terms of economics, but rather as an integrated programme that encompasses social and cultural dimensions as well. Education and skills training, health and public services, conservation of cultural heritage, infrastructure development, urban planning and rehabilitation, rural development, water and energy management, environmental control, and even policy and legislative development are among the various aspects that must be taken into account." -His Highness the Aga Khan

Founded and guided by His Highness the Aga Khan, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) or its precursors have been working in India since 1905. AKDN agencies are nondenominational, conducting their programmes without regard to faith, origin or gender. AKDN presently works in 30 countries and employs over 80,000 people. In India, AKDN programmes span the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Everywhere that we work, we follow a multidimensional approach to poverty alleviation, participatory models of development focused on improving the quality of life for local communities.

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About Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative

"All our programmes have three aspects in common: they are carried out in a poor environment where there are considerable centrifugal, sometimes even conflicting, forces at play; they are designed to have maximum beneficial impact on the economies of the populations involved and their quality of life in the broadest sense of the term; they are planned in the long term, over a period of up to twenty-five years, enabling them to become self-sufficient both financially as well as in terms of human resources." -His Highness the Aga Khan

Located in the heart of New Delhi, the Nizamuddin Area comprises the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb, the vibrant seven centuries old settlement of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and its surrounding areas of 70 acre Sunder Nursery, in addition to the 16th century Batashewala Tomb-Garden Complex, tomb of 16th century courtier poet Khan I Khanan ‘Rahim’, and the Mughal- period caravanserai of Azimganj Serai. The Urban Renewal project has successfully unified these segregated zones of the conservation area into an urban historic district of considerable cultural significance. The project has successfully integrated Conservation, socio-economic development and environmental development objectives, and unified the three segregated sites of Humayun’s Tomb – Sundar Nursery – Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti into a cultural district for the city of New Delhi.

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Our People Public-Private Partnership

"It is my hope that these models will inform collaborative ventures among the private and public sector, national and international organizations and civil society. Done well, these collaborations can have a catalytic effect on the revitalization of communities - raising incomes, restoring pride, improving the quality of life and, most importantly, restoring hope. The evidence shows that culture is clearly not an add-on or a luxury, but an integral part of overall development in both the developing and developed worlds." -His Highness the Aga Khan

The AKDN-led Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, which is spread over 250 acres in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area – barely over a kilometre south of India Gate, has been working here since 2007 under a not-for-profit MoU signed between the Aga Khan Development Network and the public parties of Archaeological Survey of India, Central Public Works Department and South Delhi Municipal Corporation. The Urban Renewal Initiative demonstrates a prototype for urban revitalization with a not-for-profit Public-Private Partnership model. An enhanced level of partnership between the Public and Private Parties in their mutually shared objectives of carrying out a model project leading to conservation based development, improved quality of life for local communities and improved access to basic urban facilities.

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Early Childhood Care & Development

Facilitating the holistic development of a child and an enriched childhood

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Education Programme

Igniting minds and building lives through quality education

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Health Programme

Making healthcare accessible to women and children in Nizamuddin

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Livelihood Generation

Creating Opportunities & Empowering Communities

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Cultural Revival through living Sufi traditions

And developing it into the historic and cultural center of Delhi

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Meeting UN's
Development Goals

In keeping with Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme projects worldwide (, this conservation led project has adopted an integrated approach to combine conservation, urban improvements and socio economic development initiatives to achieve UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Developing a
a Microcosm of
Delhi’s Original Landscape
Historic Urban
and Landscape
Development of the
Barapullah Nallah
Neighbourhood Parks
and bringing
community together

Developing a World-class Nursery

20 acres within Sundar Nursery are dedicated to plant propagation and plant display by the CPWD, making this the largest nursery in Central Delhi

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Creating a Microcosm of Delhi's Original Landscape

and restoring Sunder Nursery’s significance in Delhi’s natural history

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Restoring Historic Urban Landscapes

The design of Sundar Nursery Central Axis is inspired by the Persian carpet design and includes a central portion that in future years will form the heart of Sundar Nursery for visitors.

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De-silting and Landscape Development of the Barapullah Nallah

Landscaping the nallah along the Basti to create a green space and healthy environment

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Landscaping Neighbourhood Parks and bringing community together

While there were about 10 open spaces/parks in the Basti, most of these were not used by the residents. These have been redesigned and improved keeping in mind specific needs of women, children and youth.

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The Humayun’s Tomb-Sundar Nursery - Nizamuddin Basti is one of the densest ensembles of medieval Islamic buildings in India, inhabited by a vibrant local community with 700 years of living culture. The area is being visited by millions of tourists and pilgrims each year.

The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative has since its inception in 2007 worked towards adopting a craft based approach towards conservation, employing hundreds of craftsmen using traditional tools, materials and building techniques to revive the intention of the original builders. An urban conservation approach adopted by the project in keeping with Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme initiatives worldwide has coupled conservation with socio-economic initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for resident communities through simultaneous action towards providing education, health, sanitation, vocational training facilities. Furthermore, upgrading available public infrastructure, landscaping open parks, major street improvement, housing improvement, building community toilets coupled with heritage and environmental awareness programmes.

The project thus serves as a model for Culture based development of India’s historic city centers.

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