Q&A with Ashraf Mall, Country Director, Tearfund Pakistan

Community EmpowermentEnvironment and climate changeLivelihoods
Ashraf Mall has been Tearfund’s Country Director in Pakistan for more than ten years. Photo: Candice Roggeveen

Ashraf has worked for Tearfund for more than ten years. He steps down next month to take up a role with the Pakistan Partner Initiative working with the church and Christian organisations to strengthen their capacity. We caught up with him at Tearfund’s annual staff conference to hear about what’s been going on in Pakistan.

How and why did you start working for Tearfund? 

I used to work for one of Tearfund’s partners in Pakistan so I already knew about its work. It was its Christian identity and working with those most in need that appealed to me. 

What are the key challenges you are facing in your work/country? 

Security has been a key challenge over the years, but it is improving now. We also have challenges finding institutional funding.

Tell us a little about a recent project running in your country that has excited you?

A recent exciting project has been the Saaf Mahool (Clean Environment) waste management project. It’s a community-led waste management project which involved setting up a recycling hub (Haryali Hub/Green Hub). The project collects waste from households and segregates it – green waste is composted and paper, plastic and metals are sold in the market for recycling. The project is a triple win for the community as it provides a clean environment, better health and livelihoods. The plan is now to replicate this on a larger scale through the UK Aid Match funding from the British government.

Pakistan generates a massive 20 million tonnes of rubbish every year, up to half of which is uncollected. Photo: Hazel Thompson

What advice would you give to others who might just be starting out in this type of work/field? 

Learn from others. Visit existing projects so that you can gain a better understanding of how work is being done. 

Which Tearfund Learn resources would you recommend? 

The Environmental Sustainability booklet is a really good practical guide for setting up and working on projects in this field. 

What areas of potential do you see in your work and country? 

Pakistan is a country of over 200 million people who produce more than 20 million tonnes of waste each year. Only 40 per cent of this waste is processed, the rest is left lying around or burnt, causing damage to the environment and people’s health. The hope is that the current work in waste management can be expanded and that Pakistan would become a waste-free country. This would lead to a cleaner environment, better health and more employment opportunities for the unemployed.

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