Aga Khan Development Network and Better Shelter build Covid-19 rapid response centres

Gilgit, Pakistan, 11 June 2020 – In Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral in Northern Pakistan, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), with support from Better Shelter, are setting up six Covid-19 Rapid Response Centres using prefabricated materials and modular designs.  Four of the centres will use shelter units donated by Better Shelter.

The urgent nature of the pandemic demands rapidly deployable, easy to build, adaptable technologies. While AKAH has the expertise and effective construction solutions to build structures quickly for emergency response that are adapted to remote mountain environments, Better Shelter has modular, flat-pack, soft-structure shelter units that are easy to transport and install in humanitarian relief operations.

AKAH is deploying these modular units at four sites in Gilgit, Matsui, Aliabad and Singal. For two additional sites in Gramchamsa and Booni, AKAH is using locally manufactured prefabricated sandwich panels, adapting hard and soft structures to the requirements of each site. A team of managers and engineers completed the first facility at Gilgit Medical Center nine days after receiving the Better Shelter modules.

“A speedy response in an emergency is key to saving lives. AKAH, therefore, has always been in search of innovative ideas that can help in emergency response. These pre-fab technologies, especially soft structures, have helped us provide a speedy response,” said Nawab Ali Khan, CEO, AKAH, Pakistan.

AKAH’s architects and engineers worked with AKHS and Better Shelter to modify materials and design features of the Better Shelter units to the needs of a high mountain emergency medical facility. Key design modifications include vinyl flooring adapted for a health facility; low gauge galvanized metal sheeting for roof rain gutters; adjustments to exhaust fan openings; and improved flood protection. AKAH also constructed separate structures housing 12 washroom facilities dedicated for Covid patients.

We are very pleased to partner with Aga Khan Development Network on this project. Working together has been very satisfactory and we have successfully adapted our processes to unusual circumstances this spring. Foremost, we are happy to, via this project, be able to serve the people of Pakistan and help improve the nation’s resilience.” Johan Karlsson, Managing Director, Better Shelter

Collaboration between AKAH, AKHS, and Better Shelter enabled an agile and adapted response to quickly scale up treatment facilities.

For more information, please contact: Trushna Torche at