Pakistan generates 20 million tons of solid waste every year. While the nation lacks a well-defined waste management system, local families have found a way to make a living out of recycling in the specific areas of Karachi Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Surj Rani Town, Nazimabad & Lyari Express. Every morning trucks dump massive amounts of waste in the outskirts of the locations. The residents of theses area are living under impoverished conditions, gather around to sort the trash. It’s a family affair. Parents and siblings all contribute to the task of sifting trash through the piles in search of metallic objects, plastic containers, etc. which are then sold to run the house. Although a source of income, the task is not without its hazards. Due to financial instability and fall of human rights children can be seen running around bare feet on trash. It’s their play area, it’s their livelihood. While the Industrials and corporate organizations spirit are in the quest for making a lot of money and hiding the scars of their products left in the city which is also risking residing life of Karachi
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is an oft-repeated phrase. But this proverbial saying rings more than true for hundreds of thousands of families that find its livelihoods in this very waste.
The city of Karachi is one of the biggest metropolis of the world, with its huge population producing thousands of tons of waste every day. On the margins of this city, live an underclass society of people who sift through heaps of unhygienic waste every day and find recyclable materials – no matter how big or small – to make their ends meet. Every morning, trucks come loaded with trash and dump massive amounts of waste in these areas, and every morning, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, gather around to sort the trash – it’s a family affair. They look for metallic objects, plastic containers etc and then sell them off to run the household.
Although a source of income, the task is not without its hazards. With improper waste management leading to the loss of 5 million lives annually, these families are in the home ground of diseases. Lacking money to afford even shoes, children can be seen running around bare feet on trash. It’s their play area, it’s their livelihood. While the entrepreneurial spirit and the quest for making a living are commendable, should making a residing involve risking your life to dangerous diseases? addresses the issue of Karachi, Pakistan which lacks a well-defined waste management system, local families have found a way to make a living out of recycling. Every morning, trucks dump massive amounts of waste in the outskirts of the city of Karachi. The residents of the areas surrounding these dumps, living under impoverished conditions, gather around to sort the trash. It’s a family affair. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, all contribute to the task of sifting through the piles in search of metallic objects, plastic containers, etc. which are then sold to run the house.
The burning of waste in these areas emits toxic gases into the air – being all the while inhaled by the workers and the citizens of the surrounding areas. The seeking argument is that they cannot afford to go to a doctor or to the hospital because they don’t have insurance or government issued medical card. It feels like the government has discriminated and segregated these people from the country itself.
The mountainous layers of trash
The hazardous outcomes of plastic discarded in these suburban areas of Karachi is impacting the fate of this planet which is disturbing the mother nature on a regular basis and creating environmental problems. The origin of these extremely harmful materials are the multinational companies as these materials are processed, wrapped, shipped, bought, opened, consumed and discarded by the people of this planet. Hundreds of millions of tons of this poisonous plastic ends up in landfills, and this process is continuously taking space with other trash materials and adding layers of different junk material. These unwanted items are not thrown in the controlled areas but they are placed in the open field which allows rainwater to flow through the waste, and making a toxic stew called leachate. This material moves through the groundwater, soil, and streams poisoning ecosystem, harming human life. Our landfills don’t have the leachate collection and treatment systems as well as they are not covered on daily basis with soil to deter pests and prevent smells from being released into the air.
A plastic bottle takes 1000 years to decompose. The multinational money-making industry is ignoring the overall hazards creating mountains of the discarded materials. To further their profit margins, quality control has been compromised by the multinationals as well as the governmental authorities. Instead of using “reduce, reuse and recycle Pakistan” policy, they are using the recycling method of “rupees, revenues, and returns”.
“Pakistan alone imported 13,000 metric ton of plastic scrap this year out of which 69pc was from Middle East countries only. They have become the most reliable and consistent source of plastic scrap for Pakistani importers. Plastic scrap import figures (till April 2013) indicate that 57pc of the scrap was imported from the Middle East out of which 40pc was imported from Saudi Arabia alone. Pakistan’s import policy restricts import of hospital waste of all kinds, used sewerage pipes and used chemical containers.”
Pakistan Photo Festival Fellowship Project By Aziz Changezi
Aziz Changezi is a Quetta-based independent photographer, who has extensively travelled in and outside Pakistan, capturing human-interest stories.
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Pakistan Photo Festival is the 1st international photography festival showcasing work of regional, national and international photographers, in Pakistan. Pakistan photo festival is a unique festival, which will call for the photography with narratives and stories of the globe. The idea is to introduce and cherish a unique form of Photography and to expose the various narratives on social, cultural, ethnic perspectives and distinct issues of human rights struggles and challenges.