The Bayat Foundation, which strives to provide humanitarian assistance and social services to the people of Afghanistan, recently announced its Beautify Afghanistan strategic initiative. Undertaken as an effort to turn around the country’s serious problems with pollution and waste management, Beautify Afghanistan aims to enlist the help of ordinary citizens. The initiative empowers people to take positive action on behalf of their environment. The initiative’s first main focus will be on the problem of pollution in the Kabul River. Through the Streams Into Stability program, the Bayat Foundation plans to organize citizen-driven clean-up crews, promote innovative and effective sanitation methods, and encourage Afghans to regain pride in the tremendous beauty of their country’s natural resources.
Kabul, which has the infrastructure to sustain about a half-million people, has in recent years seen its population swell to some 5 million due to massive displacements brought on by war. Most homes along the Kabul River lack adequate sewage disposal channels. Some authorities have described the city’s air pollution levels as worse than those in Beijing, and the Kabul River reflects the same results of overpopulation, government mismanagement, overuse, and widespread neglect. Garbage collects on the riverbed, and in drought conditions the area becomes even more of an environmental hazard.
By educating the public and authorities about the issue, and working to create practical and sustainable changes, the Bayat Foundation hopes to play a role in making the Kabul River once again a source of enjoyment for the city’s residents, many of whom continue to depend on it for their livelihood.