The Sindh government is designing a Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency Project (SWEEP), and seeking World Bank’s assistance as an ‘emergency operation’ to address flooding in Karachi due to overflow of sewerage and waste, and to improve the provision of solid waste management services in the city.
It is officially learnt that the World Bank has started appraising the ‘Karachi solid waste emergency and efficiency project’, and it is expected that the executive board will approve financing of $105 million for the project which will be implemented in two phases.
In the immediate emergency response phase, activities will aim to mitigate high flooding risks linked to the 2020 monsoon and caused by accumulation of solid waste in the city’s natural drainage channels, and public health risks linked to Covid-19 contaminated waste.
In the medium-to-long-term phase, the project will improve the backbone solid waste management infrastructure and service delivery to address the underlying risks factors leading to recurring emergency flooding situations.
With an urban population of more than 16 million, Karachi generates an estimated 12,000 to 16,000 tonnes of municipal waste every day. Only a fraction of this waste is collected, and none of it is disposed in sanitary engineered facilities.
Since July 2019, Karachi is facing an environmental and public health emergency that is partly caused by the inadequate management of municipal waste, with risks compounded over the last few months from disruption of services and added vulnerabilities due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Under the project, a temporary storage cell will be constructed at Jam Chakro dumpsite for waste and sediments cleared from drains and nullahs. The cell is required to be available prior to the nullah cleaning work to ensure safe disposal of waste extracted from the nullahs.
The Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), which will execute the project, will be responsible for the construction and operation of the temporary cell, and cleaning of nullahs by removing waste obstructing the flow of water and restoring their drainage capacity. Waste removal from the nullahs will be carried out according to strict technical protocols developed for this project, adapted from procedures of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), the agency responsible for maintenance of the major nullahs.
A component of the project entails retrofitting of existing and construction of new kachra kundis, and will finance upgrading of at least 30 kachra kundis and construction of 50 new points at appropriate locations to be planned based on need and consultations with nearby residents, particularly in under-serviced and flood-prone areas, to prevent illegal dumping in the nullahs.
The project will support the development of long-term waste solutions for Karachi, which address the limited capacity remaining at existing disposal sites. A top priority will be the construction of a new sanitary landfill for Karachi. The Sindh government has designated a 3,000-acre site in Dhabeji for the development of an integrated waste treatment facility. The project will also support the design and construction of solutions to improve treatment of non-municipal waste streams such as medical waste and construction and demolition waste.
The primary drainage system of Karachi consists of 41 nullahs, which are obstructed by the accumulation of waste, and encroachments; therefore, the nullah cleaning activities will focus on selected choking points in those nullahs.
The project activities are not planned in any critical or protected area. However, Hub dam canal is located around 6km from the Jam Chakro existing dump site, and it is important to consider the efficient use of water resources, and any short-term or long-term possible risk of water pollution of the Hub dam canal.