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Pakistan’s Waste Management System: What’s To Be Proud Of?

ASIA SERIES : PART 6

The condition of waste management system from the collection of waste to its proper disposal is, to put it mildly, pathetic in Pakistan. Only 50% of solid waste quantities generated are collected by government services. However, for cities to be clean, at least 70% of these quantities should be collected.

A number of municipalities have deployed sweepers for waste collection but the service is reported to be irregular and limited to prominent administrative or commercial areas. Citizens are not provided with enough rubbish bins. In fact, those bins can only be found along the main roads. Those who live further away prefer not to take the trouble: the majority of  home waste ends up being thrown away on empty plots.

According to Riffat Aziz, 35, who lives in the suburbs of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, “The nearest garbage can to my house is 8 km away. It takes a lot of effort and time to dispose of our home waste at the can, so I have found an easy way out. ” On being asked what the shortcut is, she hesitantly responded: “There is an empty plot near my house. I understand it is wrong, but I have five mouths to feed. I don’t have time to throw off the waste at the can.”

Much of the uncollected waste ultimately finds its way into empty plots, farming land, pits and ponds. It creates an ideal environment for flies and mosquitoes to dwell on and is not only harmful for the people living in that area, but also for plants and animals.

Over the last few decades, migration from rural to urban areas has added to the overburdening of urban infrastructure and there has been a swift decline in the quality of urban life and availability of resources. Katchi abadis, or squatter settlements, have rapidly emerged; they now account for 35-50% of the total urban population. According to Zohaib Baloch, Pakistan Administrative Service’s assistant commissioner, “Since the beginning of urbanisation, the generation of waste has increased tremendously. And, unfortunately, the municipal institutes do not have adequate resources to meet the needs of increasing urban population.”

Presently Pakistan lacks a proper waste management system. It is ineffective as a whole as it collects only 50% of solid waste quantities generated. Moreover, there is no distinction between different forms of waste. Industrial waste is treated as ordinary waste and since majority of the solid waste is handled manually, this puts the health of sweepers and sanitary workers in danger.

Tehsil (Town) Municipal Administration is responsible for the collection and disposal of solid waste. However, due to lack of adequate funds, no proper implementation of rules and regulations, and lack of awareness and sense of responsibility among the citizens, the scale of this problem is beyond the ability of any municipal government.

According to Dr Mirza Arshad Ali Beg, former director of Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), “The highly mismanaged municipal solid waste disposal system in Pakistan cannot be attributed to the absence of an appropriate technology for disposal but to the fact that the system has a lot of responsibility but no authority.” The official expressed that the local bodies are not supplied with sufficient funds to resolve this issue.

The need of the hour is to revise the solid waste management law in Pakistan. The responsibilities of citizens, enterprises and the government must be clearly defined. After  revision of legislature, the government must ensure proper monitoring, control and evaluation. Citizens, no matter how influential, should  be punished for the violation of law and factories should be held accountable for the industrial waste they generate.

Most importantly, an active participation of all the stakeholders is required to resolve this issue.

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About The Author(s)



Momal Mushtaq

Momal Mushtaq

"Don't go through life, grow through life."

Momal Mushtaq recently graduated from the National University of Sciences and Technology with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. She is an aspiring social media entrepreneur with an interest in writing. She has been published in different national and international magazines and papers. In addition, she has received recognition for her blogs. Her interest in social networks has led her to create The Voice of Youth - an award-winning youth network spread across 151 countries of the world.

Comments (13)

  • Amna Inam

    I really appreciate your work & research you have done for this article.
    I agree with you, But as you have written “Moreover, there is no distinction between different forms of waste.” I wanted to say that how could a person who doesn’t have any knowledge or awareness about the disposal of waste, can distinct between its different forms.
    And obviously its a joint venture between citizens & the government.

    Keep up the good work :)

    Reply
  • Momal Mushtaq

    Momal Mushtaq

    Anam, you have highlighted an important point. The need of the hour is to create awareness and the government should invest in the training of sweepers and sanitary workers. Majority of them are provided with no training whatsoever.

    BTW how is it like in your part of the world?

    Reply
  • Amna Inam

    As you have already seen here, The environment created is eco-friendly. At some specific places the Government have placed the recycle bins for plastics,papers & glass so that everyone can access it easily.
    Moreover, on every street two garbage drums are placed And at night the government authorized car for garbage collection arrives & empties those drums.
    All these efforts are done by the Government itself.

    Reply
  • Momal Mushtaq

    Momal Mushtaq

    Amazing effort, I wish the government here was more responsible.

    Reply
  • Rizwan Yousaf

    I totally agree with the writer and support her efforts for uprising waste management system of Pakistan
    According to my view point Pakistanis have the potential to use this waste material to create many innovative products

    Reply
  • Momal Mushtaq

    Momal Mushtaq

    Thank you Rizwan for your valuable feedback. Maybe with the help of engineers like you we can solve this problem.

    Reply
  • Rizwan Yousaf

    I really appreciate the journalists like you who have confidence in the engineers to come up with innovative solutions.
    I have a solution to utilize the waste of Pakistan to create home insulation for under privileged societies

    Reply
  • Momal Mushtaq

    Momal Mushtaq

    Wow. That sounds great.

    Could you please share the details?

    Reply
  • Rizwan Yousaf

    Yeah sure
    Green Shield (a sartup co-founded by me) has successfully tested a lab made prototype, that demonstrates the insulation of metalled roof houses in northern and central Pakistan to stand against harsh weather
    If you are interested in inquiring more on this project i can send you the details

    Reply
  • Momal Mushtaq

    Momal Mushtaq

    Yes, please email me the details. Maybe I could write an article on Green Shield. Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • Rania

    Γενικά έχω βαρεθεί όλο αυτό το φιλολογικό ξερατιό περί αιματολογικής συνέχειας από τους αρχαίους Έλληνες, whatever. Χαίρω πολύ, επίσης!

    Reply
  • Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

    Good article. However, solid waste management is as much government and civic bodies job as the waste generators, that is, the citizens. In India and Pakistan we need no less than a cultural revolution to change our attitude towards cleanliness. In my experience in the field of SWM, I felt that segregation of waste into bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable right at the homes is an easy, cheap and very good starting point for a well managed waste disposal system.

    Reply
  • Raymon

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your website is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to visit my website :: how to install a garbage disposal to sink (Raymon)

    Reply

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