Waste Perspectives from Pakistan part III: Solomon Khurrum, an NGO worker who sees the potential

In this three-part series, Solomon Khurrum (previously Director of Operations for Tearfund partner Pak Mission Society) and I share three perspectives on plastic and waste from Pakistan.

In part 1 of this series, we heard the perspective of Rashid Hammeed*, who lives in a slum that currently lacks waste collection, causing ill health, environmental damage and social isolation.  Part 2 shared the story of Hameed Gul, who works at a community-based recycling hub in another area of Islamabad; this job and the centre have transformed his family’s income and health.

In this post, we hear more about the approach that Tearfund and the Pakistan Mission Society are using to extend waste collection to other communities across Pakistan.  By establishing social enterprises for community-based waste collection and recycling (or ‘Integrated Resource Recovery Centres’), we are creating jobs, improving people’s health and protecting the environment.  These enterprises are designed to become financially self-sustaining after 2-3 years, enabling poor communities to turn trash into opportunity. [Read more…]

Waste Perspectives from Pakistan Part II: Hameed Gul, a waste picker employed in Islamabad

 

 

 In this three-part series, Solomon Khurrum (previously Director of Operations for Tearfund partner Pak Mission Society) and I share three perspectives on plastic and waste from Pakistan. In part two, we hear how a community recycling centre transformed the life of one family.

Hameed Gul is 45 year old, owns a house and lives at Ali Bakash Town, Islamabad. He has been working with the Integrated Resource Recovery Center (IRRC) for the last three years. He is married with seven children – two sons and five daughters. Both of his sons and one daughter are married. Both sons are working and support him financially. One of his daughters is studying at school.   [Read more…]

Waste Perspectives from Pakistan Part I: Rashid Hameed*, a sanitation worker living in a slum

 

 

This World Environment Day sees a global call to beat plastic pollution. In this three-part series, Solomon Khurrum (previously Director of Operations for Tearfund partner Pak Mission Society) and I share three perspectives on plastic and waste from Pakistan. In part one, we hear what life is like for a sanitation worker living in a slum.

Rashid Hameed is 51 years old and lives in one of Islamabad’s 34 urban slums. Islamabad – Pakistan’s capital city – had an estimated population of 1.74 million in 2009. Over a third of these residents live in illegal slums with no civic facilities.

The slums are mostly inhabited by religious minorities (often Christians) who have migrated from Punjab and other provinces to Islamabad in search of a better future. Mr Hameed migrated with his family from his village to Islamabad in the 1980s. He has lived in the slum with his wife, daughter and three sons ever since.

Rashid shares his experience of life there: [Read more…]

Reasons to be hopeful after Commonwealth funding announcement on plastics

Maria das Gracas

Last year, Maria das Gracas’ house flooded eight times. As I stood with her in her home in a favela in Recife, Brazil, she told me how her community is now sorting and collecting the plastic and waste that clogs the river running through the neighbourhood, improving people’s lives and preventing it getting into the ocean too.

Since Sir David Attenborough and Blue Planet II hit our screens towards the end of last year, many of us have become sensitised to the devastating impact of plastics on our environment. At Tearfund we have become increasingly aware – through our work on the circular economy and our interactions with local communities – that such waste is not just an environmental problem, it is fast becoming a public health crisis for the poorest people.   [Read more…]

Definitely, maybe: circular economy initiatives that work for poor communities

Over the last 18 months we’ve been thinking, discussing and writing about how the circular economy can work for communities in developing countries. Our latest research paper, Bending the Curve, takes the evidence base to the next stage. It assesses the literature available to identify what works in practice, and the range of income, health and environmental benefits these interventions bring.

We can divide the approaches into three categories, which I think of as:

  • Definitelyproven interventions that have a strong evidence base, and could be replicated in a variety of low- and middle-income contexts.
  • Probably: approaches where the evidence base is evolving; more research is needed to understand how they could be scaled up and rolled out in different contexts.
  • Maybe: areas of high concern or great potential, but where the solutions are as-yet-unproven or speculative.

[Read more…]

The tide is turning for the world’s waste crisis

1024px-Litter

The Government has woken up to the world’s waste crisis. Uncollected trash blights life chances in poor communities and chokes the oceans. Theresa May’s commitment today to help developing nations tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste through UK aid, as part of the Government’s 25-year environment plan, clears the way to a solution. We hope that concrete announcements will follow soon that commit the Government to spending 3 per cent of their aid budget to tackle this issue.  [Read more…]

The world’s biggest waste dump (hint: it’s big, blue and you like going there)

I used to be a big fan of seafood: crabs, mussels, prawns you name it, I ate it. Then when this year Ghent University in Belgium found that seafood lovers could be eating up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic a year, I reluctantly decided to cut my consumption to the odd treat (what’s a couple of hundred bits of microplastics between friends). Consumers in better off nations like ours are rightly worried about the as yet unknown health impacts of ingesting plastic, but little or no attention has been paid to the impact on communities in the developing world.

The escalating crisis of marine litter (this ranges from microbeads to plastic bottles to boats) is the latest, dystopian symptom of a linear economy which takes, makes and throws away.  It turns out ‘away’ is often the oceans. Every year we produce 300 million pieces of plastic and 5 to 12.5 million pieces of it end up in the oceans.   [Read more…]

Three ways product design can reduce poverty overseas

 

One day, your smartphone will probably be recycled by a teenager on a rubbish tip; perhaps in Ghana or Nigeria. Months before that, it will likely have been repaired and sold on by an entrepreneur in the same country.  The health and livelihoods of these women and men depend on the way we design our products in the EU – the toxic chemicals we permit and the ease of repair that we require.  [Read more…]

Waste of Olympic proportions a potential golden opportunity for the poor

RS77670_BRA_2016_EMB_0060-mdaAs the 2016 Rio Olympics close, Tearfund’s Senior Economics and Policy Associate, Richard Gower, reflects on the potential prizes to be won for athletes and the poor from valuing our waste better.

As pollution tainted Rio’s picturesque setting and the UN advised athletes to spend ‘as little time in the water as possible’, the wider issues – and surprising opportunities – arising from humanity’s waste problem came under the spotlight during the Olympics.   [Read more…]