Relief camp for flood affectee located in Razzakabad
The last days of the holy month of Ramazan were spent in unique way by the Gul Bahao team. Away from their homes, they spent two nights and days in the Relief camp for flood affectee located in Razzakabad
The following is a paper read and circulated by the CEO of Gulbahao, Nargis Latif among the 400 participants of a South Asian Conference on Sanitation held in Kathmandu recently.
Case for Internationalizing Pakistan’s First Research Centre on Waste management
The port city of Karachi having 20 million souls is the 6th most populated metropolis of the world generating more than 12,000 tons of garbage in a single day. In addition its economic wealth at this point in time (which is seeing rapid industrialization) makes it an ideal case study in waste management. What is more an organization by the name of Gul Bahao, an environment based organization during a period of 20 years and a budget of more than $90,000 has succeeded in covering several aspects of waste management from small extremely simple but highly effective products like mobile toilets to a most sophisticated futuristic concept like the Garbage n Gold Bank, it has dwelt into multiple dimensions of waste management. A massive campaign called “You give us garbage, we give you Gold” was conducted for more than 2 years which inter alia invited people especially the vibrant cottage industry and the informal economy to separate garbage at source.
The philosophy of GulBahao (literally meaning Flow flowers) is that there is a close nexus between environment and the economy. That garbage is in fact raw material for both industry and agriculture. At Gulbahao Centre, research on both macro and micro level is been conducted.
Plastic packing material forms a bulk of inorganic waste. The world over waste material is being used creatively but more for decoration purposes. At the centre the researched products are commercially viable products like cattle feed, Instant Compost Fuel Packets (Look at the attached pamphlet). Then furniture is being made from packing material. The world famous “Silver block” a modular block designed at the Centre and used alternately as swimming pool, a two storied house etc. The raw material used is plastic waste which is otherwise burnt in the streets of Karachi causing toxic fumes and severe air pollution. The usefulness of these recycled products ensures that their raw material will not be mixed up with other kinds of organic waste.
As a result of Gulbahao’s persistence in advocating recycling of gutter water two important steps were taken by the government of the day. One of these was a ban on using fresh water in lawns and encouraging use of gutter water in horticulture so that fresh water is not polluted by sewage water. This lead to a healthy growth of nurseries using gutter water. Secondly during the time of sacrifices of animals the offal’s and other organic waste used to be lying around for days in the streets. But a proposal from the Research Centre to the local bodies to bury en-mass the entrails and other filth of the dead animals lead to a complete change in the situation.
Thousands of people consisting of University students, NGOs, government officials and school going children as well as the media have visited the Research Centre. Its website is very mush visited and even used for writing theses by research students. It is located in one of the most developed areas of the metropolis, right on the main road.
We are all conscious of the fact that environment degradation cannot be allowed to go unchecked. On the other hand to say that industrialization and development must be stopped because of environmental pollution they create is not a workable solution. The answer lies in conducting research with different kinds of materials being thrown up by industry and human life. Attempts in this direction have been extremely fruitful. Not only have they helped in controlling pollution and unsanitary conditions they have led to innovations of great use to people.
The time has now come for the world community to avail the fruits of this research facility located in the metropolis of Karachi. The Gul Bahao Research Centre has been there for the last twenty years and can be linked up with other organizations the world over through internet facilities as well as through visits. What is important is financial help to keep it sustainable. Waste management is a very challenging subject. At this point, I appeal to organizations all over the world to chip in and help sustain this facility, with the aim of helping to control environmental degradation.
Yesterday, Gulbahao’s Nargis Latif met the Chief Secretary Sindh Mr.Ejaz Chaudry. She lamented the fact that the government has not been able to take advantage of Gulbahao’s research work in disaster management and rehabilitation. Nargis said that Gulbahao had set up Chandighars in Mansehra division during the earthquake of 2005 and then again during the floods of 2010 in Muzzafargarh and Thatta. According to her the Chandi Ghar has taken more than 16 years to evolve and has now won international acclaim through CNN and Voice of America. What is more she said that the educated middle class of Karachi has contributed heavily in Gulbahao’s research work. Thousands of people living in Karachi have been in involved with their physical labor while others have contributed their hard earned money in it.
Nargis Latif informed the chief secretary Sindh that the Chandighar is ideal for earthquake prone areas. When a conventional house made of bricks is hit by an earthquake it is reduced to rubble and cannot be put up again. On the other hand the blocks of the Chandighar are modular and can be put up again in a matter of hours to form any kind of structure with the minimum of skills even after a massive earthquake strikes it.
The Chief Secretary replied that he had already sent a summary about the Chandighar to the PDMA to coordinate with other relief agencies. Later in the day the managing trustee of Gulbahao met with the director operations Mr Akhlaque Qureishi director operations of PDMA who assured Nargis Latif that his department would support both the immediate and long term goals of Gulbahao. i.e helping to put up Chandighars in the earthquake hit areas of Baluchistan and more important to introduce the Chandighar as a model for relief and rehabilitation.
Talking to the press Nargis revealed that Gulbahao has succeeded in putting up the world’s first Chandi Ghar assembling plant in Karachi. It has access to tonnes of raw material of the Chandi Ghar blocks which are basically left over clean plastic from some big factories of Karachi.
To the President of Pakistan
First of all please accept my heartiest congratulations on becoming the President of the Islamic republic of Pakistan. It is our good fortune that you have been selected from our home town there by giving us easier access to you and conversely giving you a better understanding of GulBahao’s innovations which are set to make a big difference to the socioeconomic revival of Pakistan. For more details please visit our website http://gulbahao.org. Sir,I believe that the devastating floods drowning the villages of Pakistan can also serve as a blessing in disguise to the urban dwellers, the traders and youth of Karachi who can fulfil some of the basic needs of the villagers as well as generate income for themselves and improve on their skills .
GulBahao during the last 20 years of its existence and a monetary input of more than 8 crores has succeeded in coming up with unique innovations .Among them are the “Chandi” blocks which are modular i.e a two storeyed house can be converted into furniture or a small water reservoir and vice versa in just a few hours. They are all weather proof i.e cool in summer and warm in winter,strong against the elements and extremely cost effective. The raw material which is the clean plastic waste of Karachi’s factories is being brought to us at our doorsteps by some of these factories.
Sir, as you know that many of the flood affectees are those who live in the river beds or “kutcha areas”. For them the Chandighar will be invaluable as they can be dismantled in a matter of hours whenever a flood warning is sounded. After dismantling, the Chandighar can be reassembled again at a higher ground level. After the flood subsides they can return to the river bed again with all their belongings intact. The dismantling of the houses in the riverbed before the arrival of the floods will directly help in lessening the overflowing of the rivers. The alternative of the Chandighar will also ensure that the flood affectees will then not have to rush tobig cities, causing overcrowding and hence making them unsustainable.
During the last ten years or so GulBahao has been able to put up 150 Chandighars in different parts of the country viz, Mansehra, Muzaffargarh, Thatta and Karachi. Thanks to this experience it has been able to refine its product to the extent that it has succeeded in bringing it at par with any other 21 st century innovation. What is more, it has been able to attract international attention as well. Both Voice of America and CNN have given it detailed coverage. International organisations like the UNDP, Clinton Foundation, German Embassy officials have taken keen interest in GulBahao’s research program. The list is long.
Ever since the start of the monsoon season we have speeded up our efforts to make ChandiBlocks, the basic unit of the Chandighar. It is our greatest ambition to provide as many Chandighars as possible. God willing they could run into thousands. For this we are also tapping the well off people of Karachi as well as educational institutions to donate cash or even recyclable waste which can be sold in the market. GulBahao intends to garner support from different strata of society like traders, professionals, educationists etc.
At this stage we need the moral support of the government. In this case we would be highly honored by your presence on the occasion of the departure of the first batch of Chandi blocks or alternately at a reception at the Arts Council to mark the event.
Waiting for an early reply,