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Credit: Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

Building sustainable communities: rehabilitating 33 million people after the 2022 Pakistan Floods

1 February 2023 19.30 - 20.45
Add to Calendar01/02/2023 19:3001/02/2023 20:45UTCBuilding sustainable communities: rehabilitating 33 million people after the 2022 Pakistan Floods HallfalseDD/MM/YYYY15Jesus Collegeevent_11953confirmed
Frankopan Hall

What happens if you involve communities in post-disaster development?

Join Yasmeen Lari, ‘architect for the poorest of the poor’, at the Intellectual Forum to hear about her work in Pakistan following the 2022 flooding and her vision for the future of sustainable architecture.

The impact of climate change was at its most severe in the countrywide flooding disaster that engulfed Pakistan in the summer of 2022. One third of the country, the size of United Kingdom, has been submerged in water, rendering 33 million people homeless in its wake.

During earlier post-disaster development, the promotion of high carbon urbanized models using concrete blocks, steel girders, and burnt bricks on one hand resulted in excessive GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions, and on the other inhibited community participation. The promotion of the international colonial charity model, which consists largely of handouts, overlooked traditional low-carbon vernacular construction and participatory approaches, with the result that sustainability of such programmes and ownership by people could not be assured.

Since the floods occurred, adoption of BASA principles, which seek to foster community participation, has demonstrated the speed and low cost at which flood-affected households could be placed on the path of rapid recovery.

Yasmeen Lari will present her holistic architectural approach, which has led to the rehabilitation of 1,000 households through provision of rights-based development: the basic needs of shelter, sanitation, water, alternative energy, and clean cooking, along with disaster mitigation measures and environmental improvement through self-building techniques.

Her work in Pakistan following the floods demonstrates the importance of women-led and women-centred rehabilitation to foster empowerment and self-reliance for building sustainable communities – at a fraction of the cost incurred by the prevalent international models.

Building upon the successful pilot implemented in one of the worst flood-hit areas, Yasmeen will discuss how the target of 1 million households at a time could be achieved through investment of only £160 per household.

About the speaker

Yasmeen Lari is Marshall Professor of Sustainable Design at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, 2022-2023.

She trained as an architect at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and was elected to RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) in 1969. She has served as president of IAP (Institute of Architects Pakistan), deputy chair of ARCASIA (Architectural Regional Council of Asia), and founding chair of architects’ regulatory body PCATP (Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners, chair of TI-P (Transparency International Pakistan) and founder chair of INTBAU Pakistan (International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism).

Yasmeen is the cofounder and CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, an organization working to conserve the nation’s historic art and architecture while providing large-scale humanitarian aid to local communities. Under her leadership, the Heritage Foundation has helped build over 40,000 carbon-neutral structures across Pakistan.

She has received several national and international awards including the Fukuoka Prize (2016) and Jane Drew Prize (2020). As a result of her strategies for providing social and ecological justice to marginalized sections, she is often referred to as ‘architect for the poorest of the poor’. She has authored and co-authored several publications on Pakistan’s architectural history and on low-tech low-impact zero carbon methodologies for construction.

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