Mapping of Open Burning of Municipal Waste in Pakistan and Identification of Underlying Factors and Key Drivers

In the open burning – a Safer End Engineered grant- project, we aim to investigate the connection between open burning incidents and social vulnerabilities, while mapping hotspot regions, and assessing at-risk communities to establish sustainable waste management practices. Our integrated approach combines city-level spatial and hotspot mapping, transect walk approaches, and site visits to transfer stations and landfill and dump sites. By utilising some key analytical tools like Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model, surveys, and key informant interviews, we identified open burning areas, sources, substances, and the underlying factors driving this issue.

  • Partner: NED University, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, COMSATS University Islamabad, and Engro Foundation,
  • Donor: Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Timeline: 2023 May to 2024 October


Need to understand the causes of open burning

The lack of understanding by communities and local governments of the external impacts and potential risks of open burning remains a major challenge in the prolonged history of open burning and exposure in Pakistan. Vulnerability mapping (spatial mapping of open burning sites and spaces and climatological modelling of open burning pollutants) needs to be developed to improve waste management practices. To strengthen Pakistan’s ability to adopt sustainable waste management practices and its commitment to leaving no one behind, it is important to scientifically identify the areas, spaces, sources and substances where open waste incineration occurs and review the key drivers and factors. To achieve sustainable development, the primary and secondary goals should focus on SDGs 3, 11 and 12.



Finding actual paths/routes with policy options

In our analysis we looked at the approaches that should be implemented. The project used an integration methodology to create city-level spatial maps and hotspots. We used the transect method in areas where waste collection services were inadequate or non-existent and visited transfer stations and landfills to identify potential sites and spaces for open burning. HYSPLIT (Hybrid Single Particle Lagrange Integrated Trajectory) Model is used to find possible paths, routes and locations where pollutants can be transported. After in-depth discussions and references to previous collaborative projects, appropriate scientific methods and approaches were finalized for each sub-area/research question. We need to take a systemic approach to identify sources and substances that are subject to open combustion, e.g. plastic waste treatment, municipal/private incineration, etc.



Encourage necessary strategies

Gather scientific evidence to investigate the causes of open burning and develop appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Through better data for decision-making, increased capacity of selected cities to prevent open burning of municipal waste, better understanding of community or population characteristics at the time of exposure, and increased awareness and involvement of stakeholders interested in the waste chain regarding open burning. We will address the factors underlying open wastes through recommendations and interventions based on evidence-based research that promote the development of appropriate strategy and necessary action plans.

Shiza Aslam Shiza Aslam Director & Head of Research

For more information about this project, please get in touch.

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