Key environmental issues and/or intervention points addressed in the GRRT training included:
1. Increase in demand for fired bricks for shelter reconstruction and the resulting issues
Housing construction has increased the demand for fired bricks in many areas. As a result the demand will increase the need for more coal firewood, clay and other materials. It is estimated that more than 1 million houses would be built within the next few years as part of the flood reconstruction. As most agencies and householders prefer to use fired bricks in the reconstruction effort the demand from this housing would be approximately around 5 billion bricks. Already brick industry is a heavy air polluter due to the use of substandard coal, plastics, polythene and rubber material in the firing process. Shelter construction could be a point of intervention for improving the current processes, at least in limited areas where the impacts are high.
2. Increase in demand for concrete clocks for shelter construction and resulting demand for sand and gravel
Increase in demand for bricks is also driving the demand for alternative structurally sound building materials. Concrete blocks which are normally used in the urban areas of Pakistan are making inroads into the rural areas with the new reconstruction projects. Cement Blocks are mainly being introduced to the rural areas by contractors working for local agencies constructing large and middle scale model housing projects. As a result the demand for sand and gravel in these areas will increase.
3. Cutting of economically valuable trees
Cutting of economically valuable trees such as Sheesham has increased after the floods as a source of income. Many trees on the flood protection bunds have been removed in the past few months according to local sources in Kot Addu and Taunsa areas.
4. New agricultural activity and possible improvements to fertilizer, pesticide and water management
As part of early recovery support many agencies are supporting communities in re-establishing their agricultural crops. Such new projects would be good intervention points for improving the current practices of using fertilizer, pesticides and water.
5. Household energy issues
Household energy use improvements could be implemented with the early recovery support if agencies guided on locally available best practices. Use of solar cookers, fuel efficient stoves and biogas plants could be promoted in areas where environmental issues related to fuel wood collection are high. Improved stoves not only save on fuel but improve household health conditions as indoor air pollution caused by traditional stoves is responsible for serious respiratory health issues.
6. Household water and waste management issues
The reconstruction effort provides an opportunity to improve water and waste management within the households. These practices can increase benefits to the family through the production of compost, biogas and food through home gardening activities.