While planning my field trips in Islamabad, I did not know the types of situations villagers would be living in. I had read reports about them burning trash in front of their houses, and how NRSP had conducted sessions about proper solid waste disposal methods through their WISE program. The WISE program focuses on 4 elements: Water, Immunization, Sanitation and Education, and I have been particularly interested in the sanitation element because of my professional background. I wanted to learn and possibly make recommendations about the way locals dispose their trash.
After visiting the Tando Muhammad Khan district in Sindh, near my hometown of Hyderabad, I learned about the many challenges presented to these communities. To understand what is in their trash and how they get rid of it, you must understand their surroundings. These houses are made of cow dung (gobar) and dirt! The roofs are made of tree branches and dried hay. These houses are built next to each other, with little to no privacy, and are also surrounded by livestock. Most of the “waste” accumulated here consists of gobar and hay.
This is because these villagers do not have the same lifestyles as residents in urban places. With almost no plastic bags, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and cardboard, their trash is made up of mostly organic materials. This gets burned in small amounts in front of their houses or in large amounts in a pit dug up by a local community sweeper. This pit is made to concentrate all the waste in one place so that it can be burned easily. The cleaning of the houses is left to women of the household, who also take care of the kids, feed the livestock, and in some villages, also work in the fields. In one of the villages, as the waste was being burned, the smoke started to spread to nearby homes. As I was standing there, I could barely breathe through the smoke around me. I was thinking that if, I can’t even stand here for 10 minutes, the villagers must be going through worse.
Through my surveys and field visits, I hope to get a better understanding of the challenges these villagers are going through. Some of these challenges are respiratory problems, lack of sewerage and drainage systems, and malaria. All of these challenges indirectly affect the way locals dispose of their trash, and can be having major health impacts on them.
Post by APF Fellow, Uzair Iqbal
Recycling Coordinator for the City of San Antonio, Texas
Placement: Water, Immunization, Sanitation and Education (WISE)
Through San Antonio’s ReWorksSA Recycling Certification, Uzair helps businesses get recognized for their best recycling practices. Before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), he was a StudentAdviser for the Muslim Student Association. As an International Ambassador, he also mentored international students studying at FGCU through exchange programs.