Picking up trash in any city is a dirty job, but on the outskirts of Karachi numerous settlements of impoverished families make their livings from collecting and recycling what the rest of us throw out.

Located approximately 25 kilometres outside of Karachi near a solid waste dump where 25 per cent of the city’s trash goes, Goth Noor Muhammad is an “ultra-poor” settlement with most of its 800 residents living well below the poverty line.

With no access to potable water and other basic amenities, residents live in unhygienic conditions and eke out a living sifting through garbage to collect pieces of glass and scrap metal which can be sold in markets or recycled.

The “village” had no infrastructure of any kind, no school, healthcare or sanitation facilities. Seeing the grave need to improve the lives of these residents, in 2010 the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Shell Pakistan and Human and the Nutrition Development Society (HANDS) embarked on a joint project to turn this village into a model settlement.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony on Thursday, Sarim Sheikh, Managing Director, Shell Pakistan, said; “Shell believes that being a part of any larger community means we must give back to it so that people have a chance to improve their lives. We hope that the work being done here at Goth Noor Mohammad inspires other projects that enable communities to strive toward a better quality of life.” He said that the area of activities would be extended to other parts of the country so that maxim poor and marginalized communities could benefit.

The ceremony was attended by PPAF’s Energy, Infrastructure and Disaster Management Chief Zafar Sabri, HANDS Chief Executive Sheikh Tanvir as well as representatives of the corporate sector and senior officials from PPAF and Shell Pakistan.

Shell’s contribution to this village is the development of homes – residents were previously living in makeshift dwellings constructed of trash that they scavenged from the dumps. The houses under construction are utilizing indigenous building methods as well as energy efficient materials. Community members are also being taught new skills in masonry to earn an income so that they are able to have financial ownership of the project, drawing on Shell’s focus toward sustainable development.

The village will have infrastructure systems for the first time including drainage systems, street pavements, housing units, communal latrines, community kitchen, water storage facilities, community center, health and education facilities. More than 70 per cent of drainage and street pavements are complete while work on housing units, a communal kitchen, latrines and a water storage tank are in their inception stage. PPAF and Shell Pakistan have also facilitated over 500 villagers to apply for and get their National Identity Cards through NADRA.

PPAF is the lead apex institution for community-driven development in the country and the largest source of pro-poor spending outside Public Sector Development Programme and the Federal budget. Set up as a fully autonomous private sector institution, PPAF enjoys facilitation and support from the Government of Pakistan, the World Bank, IFAD, USAid, USDA, KfW and US Corporate Sector. Outreach of PPAF now extends throughout Pakistan and its microcredit, water and infrastructure, drought mitigation, education, health and emergency response interventions have been widely recognized. As the largest institution of its kind, PPAF has received high performance ratings from donors.