Plastic pollution is devastating the health and local environment of countless people in the slum communities of Pakistan, and making living conditions even worse.
Pakistan generates a massive 20 million tonnes of rubbish every year, up to half of which is uncollected. Due to this desperate lack of waste collection, rubbish builds up on the streets. Children play among it, suffering cuts and burns. People set fire to the rubbish in an effort to clear the streets, but this results in fumes that pollute the air and are harmful to breathe for children like Javed*.
Rubbish blocks up the waterways too, causing homes to flood and creating pools of stagnant water where disease-carrying mosquitoes thrive. People’s health suffers, limiting their ability to work and pushing them deeper into poverty.
The recycling centres that will be created with the support of UK government match funding are called Haryali Hubs. The word ‘haryali’ means ‘green’ in the local language.
Located in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad, each hub will provide up to 2,000 families with the waste collection services they desperately need. As rubbish is collected, less will be set alight, and so each hub will prevent up to 3 tonnes (3,000 kg) of waste per day from being burnt and releasing toxic fumes.
In this way, the Haryali Hubs will help make the air cleaner to breathe and the streets safer in the slum communities of Sindh, where poverty is extreme.
Protecting the oceans
In Karachi and Hyderabad alone, 6,000 tonnes of waste is dumped in or near watercourses daily, resulting in around 500 tonnes of plastic entering the ocean each day.
The Haryali Hubs will process up to six tonnes of waste a day, per hub. As plastic and other waste is collected, sorted, and then recycled or disposed of sustainably, less will end up in waterways. Each hub will prevent as much as 200 tonnes of plastic from entering the ocean each year.
Once collected, as much of the waste as possible will be recycled into eco-friendly products such as organic compost, which will be sold. This will help the Haryali Hubs to generate income and become able to cover their own running costs.
It’s not easy for people in the slums of Karachi and Hyderabad to make a living. Many have moved from rural areas to the cities in recent years, meaning work is in high demand.
With limited education and skills at their disposal, people such as Rubina* do whatever they can to make a living, including cleaning the houses of wealthier families. But this work tends to be short-term and low-paid, and can leave people vulnerable to exploitation.
Each Haryali Hub created will provide around 25 jobs for local community members. Like Mumtaz and Beenish*, they will be trained to earn a sustainable and meaningful living by helping collect or process waste. Crucially, vulnerable people such as women and people living with disabilities will be prioritised.
Creating long-term change
While this work in Pakistan will quickly begin to make a difference among the communities they serve, we believe the impact will be long-term and widespread.
Waste and plastic pollution is a huge problem across Pakistan and around the world. As the Haryali Hubs are established, our staff, partners and the communities they work with will be promoting greater action to tackle waste. They will also be encouraging more support and investment in initiatives like this from businesses, communities, local authorities and others in positions of power.
As the hubs begin to change lives and improve local environments, we believe they will serve as an example, inspiration and sustainable model for long-term transformation across Pakistan and around the world.
Please pray for this inspiring work in Pakistan.
Still have questions? Read our FAQs.
*Names changed throughout for privacy purposes