More than 1/3rd of 22 million population of Pakistan lives in urban settlements. Half of this urban population, it is estimated, resides in places termed slums and squatter settlements. These unplanned and informal settlements suffer from a variety of issues including income and asset poverty, lack of access to basic services, congestion, poor housing and living conditions and so on. Thanks to this situation, residents of these settlements have appeared to be highly vulnerable to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has rightly been termed an urban health crisis.
In this context, Shehersaaz, in partnership with UN-HABITAT Pakistan, Ministry of Climate Change, and Rawalpindi based civil society organizations namely Aman Development Foundation, Akhtar Hameed Khan Memorial Trust and National Cleaner Production Center, is implementing Pakistan Urban Slums Response Program or PCUSRP. Currently a pilot phase of this program is being implemented in selected union councils/urban neighborhoods of Dhok Hassu and Dhok Mangtal localities of Rawalpindi City. Both of these locations are located next to Lai-Nallah that once used to be a fresh water stream but over they years has reduced to a large perennial waste water drain.
The main activities of this pilot project include:
- Installation of hand washing facilities
- Awareness raising through street banners and social media messaging
- Improving the solid waste collection
- Building of a small scale waste water treatment facility
- Women’s economic empowerment through face mask making
- Disinfection of streets through regular spray of disinfectants
- Distribution of hand sanitizers, gloves and masks
- Training of sanitary workers on personal safety and environment friendly solid waste management
- Regular testing of temperature using digital thermometer guns
- Installation of waste collection bins
The pilot phase is planned to directly and indirectly benefit an estimated 50,000 population in the target locations.