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Prestigious award for Pakistani organisation

October 03, 2006

ISLAMABAD, Oct 2: A Pakistani organisation has won the World Habitat Award-2006 for its efforts to improve housing conditions.

Princess Zahra received the award in Naples on Monday on behalf of the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKPBS), says a press release issued here.

It is the second time that a Pakistani organisation has won the prestigious award. The Orangi Pilot Project was the first to win the award in 2001.

The AKPBS has developed over 60 low-cost, seismic-resistant, energy- and resource-efficient housing construction methods and standards. Over 15,000 fuel-efficient products have been installed in 7,000 households to date, benefiting more than 50,000 people.

They range from smoke-free stoves and screened kitchen cabinets for storing food to water-heaters and ventilation systems.

Many of the products and low-cost technologies are designed to address the prevailing housing conditions in poor areas of the developing world where rooms are dark, damp, dusty, poorly constructed and susceptible to earthquake damage.

They often lack proper ventilation for wood fires, which then leads to acute respiratory diseases, pneumonia and eye conditions.

The excessive use of wood for cooking, heating and construction also results in high levels of deforestation and a loss of biodiversity.

The complex problem is made more difficult by the general lack of construction skills and limited natural resources.