Posts Tagged ‘Development’

Strings Wearing "Don't Jealous" and "Code Red: Rahi" (Source: Uth Oye! Look Book Photographed by Adnan Malik)

Whohoo! The second line of Uth-Oye!, “a socially conscious, cause-based design initiative,” is now out. Last year, the graphic t-shirts were both unique and spunky, displaying choice catchphrases like, “Don’t Jealous,” and images of flying auto rickshaws, bleeding gas pumps, and a King of Spades armed with a muchie and an AK-47. This year, the initiative has produced more t-shirts, as well as jeans, hoodies, and handbags, all with equally spunky messaging and imagery.

Kalsoom want.

While I think the t-shirts are witty, the best part of Uth-Oye is its smart branding and ability to leverage this to raise awareness and help fund innovative and sustainable social initiatives occurring on the ground in Pakistan. One such partnership is with the Clinton Global Initiative – U and the Pakistan Sustainability Network, to provide solar lamps to a village in Thar, in Sindh province. Jeremy Higgs, the founding director of PSN’s Karachi chapter [and fellow Twitter buddy] told me,

When the Uth Oye! team approached us, we 1) couldn’t pass up an opportunity to work with a socially-minded and awesome t-shirt designer and 2) saw it as an opportunity to get the message out there about innovative solutions for environmental sustainability that are happening right here in Pakistan.

The nine-month pilot, which provided lamps to Oan village, an area with little to no access to electricity, was such a success that the Uth-Oye/CGI-U/PSN collaboration is now deploying a second phase, installing more lamps in this area. In another partnership with the Association for the Development of Pakistan (ADP), the initiative helped fund and build “15 natural bio-gas generators that generate usable gas by fermenting common waste items (Manure, Human Waste and Sewage)” in Soon Valley, an area with a significant need for alternative sources of gas and fuel.


Bio-Gas Generators Cause w/ADP (Source: Uth-Oye Facebook Page)

As someone who works with similar types of initiatives in my day job, I was not only impressed with the causes endorsed by this design initiative, but also how Uth-Oye made those same projects digestible for the average person, someone not used to the avalanche of obnoxious buzzwords so common in this industry. Case in point, underneath each cause’s description is a “Summary for the Lazy,” brief bullet points that break down 1) the situation 2) the need 3) the solution.

For those of you who needed a Summary for the Lazy for this post, Uth-Oye: Smart Branding + Cool Design + Innovative Causes = Apparel with an Impact.

Uth-Oye! clothing and accessories available in stores in Karachi and Lahore starting December 25. Online orders and [international] shipping available on the website. Join the Facebook page for more daily updates.


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The Relief4Pakistan Campaign

NYT: Flood Victims Near Multan

Today, news agencies report that Sindh province is currently bracing for a second round of heavy floods, and authorities warn “it could be as big as the first wave, which displaced millions and destroyed thousands of homes.” According to Al Jazeera English, “Authorities said waters have unexpectedly begun to rise at the Kotri barrage along the Indus river in southern Sindh, and now threaten to overrun the embankments around the barrage. Flooding at Kotri could potentially threaten the city of Hyderabad.”

So far, more than 1,600 have been confirmed dead since the flooding began in Pakistan two weeks ago, though this toll will rise as the disaster continues to spread and the threat of water-borne diseases like cholera rises. Villages have been swept away. Hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes, their livelihoods destroyed. Over 14 million people have been affected by these floods, more than the 2004 Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.

Since the flooding began, I have laid awake at night, haunted by the images of the tragedy – families wading through what was once their homes, villages submerged under water, people frantically escaping to safe areas not already destroyed by the floods. This disaster is bigger than anything you or I have seen in recent years. But it is not productive to just lament about the loss and tragedy of this disaster. It is not enough to hang our heads or blame leaders for their lack of action. If we want to help the millions suffering, we have to actually do something to help.

As many of you know, I’m the director of Social Vision, the venture philanthropy arm of ML Resources. Social Vision provides seed funding and support for innovative initiatives and social entrepreneurs/enterprises in their earliest stages. Earlier this week, I received a call from my friend, Mahnaz Fancy, who was one of the founders of Pakistani Peace Builders, a new initiative of Pakistani-Americans and concerned global citizens, the group behind the recent Sufi Music Festival in New York City. Mahnaz shared many of my same frustrations about responses to the disaster, and offered the most time-sensitive solution – a grassroots donation campaign to benefit the millions impacted by the floods in Pakistan, a campaign that would appeal to both Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis.

We got to work immediately, designing a campaign that would leverage social media and grassroots giving to fund raise in the most efficient way possible. Therefore, rather than five people giving funds to five different (albeit all well-deserving) organizations, this campaign would enable those same five people to donate to one relief organization, an agency we had thoroughly vetted and were in close contact with. Therefore, the campaign aims to centralize donations in order to maximize impact of those funds.

This of course was a lot easier said than done, given the tremendous work of numerous relief agencies on the ground, both international and Pakistani. However, after much deliberation and due diligence, ML Social Vision and PPB chose Mercy Corps, a global aid agency, as the direct recipient of these donations. We made this decision based on Mercy Corps’ stellar reputation and credibility in the West and on the ground, its transparency, its ability to respond quickly to emergencies, and its previous work in Pakistan. Not only has the organization already launched its fundraising appeal, it also coordinates directly with local communities and organizations in Pakistan. Mercy Corps also doesn’t attempt to do too much, and instead concentrates on doing things well – it’s currently focusing on providing clean water, staple foods and clean-up tools for affected families mainly in Swat Valley and Sindh, two of the worst hit areas.

On Thursday, our campaign – Relief4Pakistan – went live, and we set our first fundraising goal at $100,000, with ML Social Vision providing the first $10,000 to jump start the campaign. Since then, we have managed to raise over $19,000, which is fantastic, but we still have a way to go before hitting our goal. So please, donate by clicking here. Every dollar (or foreign currency!) counts. The money will go directly towards Mercy Corps and will be earmarked for their flood efforts. You can also join our Facebook page, where you will receive updates on our progress,  news on the disaster, as well as updates we will post from Mercy Corps’ efforts on the ground. Given that tomorrow is Pakistan Day, there is nothing more patriotic you can do than donate or support the numerous families affected by the floods. If you decide to hold your own fundraiser, and are not sure where to donate the funds you receive, please feel free to contact us or donate it directly.

At a time of such tremendous tragedy, the best way to make a difference is to help. Thanks and Happy Pakistan Day!

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  Photo from em[POWER] Facebook Group

Image: Facebook Group

This morning, my friend Yawar told me about em[POWER], an incredible initiative that aims to empower communities through renewable waste-to-energy solutions. Headed by scholars from Rutgers, Princeton University, and University of California-Berkeley, (with partners at Cornell University, Penn State, NED University and non-profits from around the world), the initiative’s specific, tangible goal is to couple a methane-based power plant that derives its power source from municipal waste with the sustainable development of a school and community infrastructure for people that live in landfills. According to the em[POWER] facebook group, “The core of the project connects different communities through a symbiotic relationship that helps address the energy needs of an urban population by transforming their refuse into a source of renewable energy. The large project spans across multiple countries including Brazil, India, Kenya, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.”

em[POWER] will begin this initiative in Karachi, where it seeks to create a renewable power plant and industrialized waste management facility at Kachra Kundhi landfill, 10 miles outside the city. In the video below, the group describes that they chose Karachi “because it is a port city with a large population of 18 million people, and faces a 500 megawatt power deficit resulting in frequent power outages.” Each day, the city generates 10,000 tons of trash that are burned off in four municipal landfills – the largest being Kachra Kundhi, which is home to 10,000 inhabitants, who live in extreme poverty. According to em[POWER], “Many of the women and children earn a living by burning through the trash in search of scrap metal to re-sell on the second-hand market.” Although the trash in the landfill is a source of livelihood, many people are subjected to severe health risks, including third degree burns, cancer, or respiratory illnesses.

Therefore, em[POWER]’s initiative will not only provide a renewable energy solution to the power shortage problem in Karachi, but also a social solution to better the lives of the Kachra Kundhi people. The group has established a close working relationship with Al Khair, a K-12 school system set up by Muhammad Muzahir that currently serves 2,000 students at Kachra Kundhi, providing free meals, books, and education. Revenue from this project will be channeled to bolster their school and college facilities and curriculum, and “their expertise will be used to establish a community center, health facilities, and subsidized housing for the Kachra Kundhi residents.

The project will be completed in three stages:  (1) Feasibility Study, Methane Capture, School and Community Development, (2)Expanded Methane Capture and Methane Power Plant with 10MW Capacity  and, (3) Expanded Power Plant, Residential, Health and Community Infrastructure. Once the project has been successfully implemented in Karachi, em[POWER] will replicate the model in other locations.

The initiative shows how technology and innovation can be used to better the social infrastructure of a community. Moreover, it will establish an enterprise that will empower the people of Kachra Kundhi to help themselves. So, how can you get involved? em[POWER] is currently competing in the Dell Social Innovation Competition to promote their cause and fund the project. Click here to vote [you will have to register and then run a quick search for em[POWER]] so they can win $50,000!

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