Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan and fifth largest in South-East Asia is house to over 9.4 million people and produces over 5300 tons of waste every day. The city, however, is the first in the country to develop an infra-structure to collect and transport urban waste. Yet various essential components of a sustainable urban waste management system such as disposal and an all-encompassing strategy for waste reduction, re-use and recycling still needs to be developed. Research studies on local waste management are few and far between and have primarily documented current practice and quantified the waste, rather than provide a holistic picture of the city’s hunger for producing more and more waste, and the solutions thereof.
Dr. Zehra Waheed’s project aims at doing more than merely mapping existing practice and quantifying the waste output of Lahore. It provides an exploratory case study of the city’s waste land-scape: a lens through which the evolution of desired systems, governance processes and organizational development (in this case, the Lahore Waste Management Company) have been viewed. It also serves as a vehicle of culturally interpreting the city’s need for waste, its historical handling of its excrement and the various narratives that define the city’s inhabitants’, including the industry’s, approach towards waste. Dr. Zehra has developed a conceptual understanding of the nature of Solid Waste Management Challenges faced by the urban centers of Punjab, with the focus on the city of Lahore. It has captured current waste management practice in other large urban centres in India and Bangladesh and a narrative of the same has also been compiled. The historical development of Lahore's waste management infrastructure, the development of the informal sector and transition to a well-funded, formal setup has been documented.
The outcomes of this study highlight the actual role of governance, technical processes, people and end-user practice and gives recommendations as to the way forward for a holistic, inclusive strategy for the sustain-able growth of not only Lahore, but other cities of Punjab. This will, in turn, provide the means to help Pakistan get closer to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.