By Ammara Farooq Malik
The writer is founder of the SEPLAA Climate Resilience Think Tank, lawyer, development sector professional and a doctoral candidate in social entrepreneurship, green business solutions and gender.
The Naya Pakistan Housing Program envisages to provide affordable housing to the poor in a cost effective and efficient manner.
While the program is still in the planning phase, it would bear well to try to include all ideas that can make the project sustainable and cost effective not only in terms of building and infrastructure but also in terms of playing an active role in the promotion of green architecture, conservation of nature, promoting clean air and young voices promoting green urban development and climate change advocacy in the country.
A youth case in focus is Dina Malik aged 14 who helped in developing the Seplaa Hub Green Co Working Space and has been promoting green roof top gardens in her talks internationally since 2016. This year she plans to talk about this in Pakistan through her work in the Girls for Climate Action Campaign.
As a first step, the affordable housing must have the options in the building plans for having roof top gardens to promote future community engagement, economic empowerment initiatives such as permaculture farming and the sustainability of green architecture.
Home owners must be supported by the government to be educated in maintaining green spaces and roof tops in order to help purify the atmosphere, beautify the building façade and create open spaces for leisure particularly for women who would want to stay within their homes due to various domestic responsibilities. Roof top gardens provide a mental stimulation for relaxation and release of stress for such women and this can have trickling positive effects on the well being of the entire family.
This concept can also be replicated in other housing schemes, wherein building plans that propose green and open spaces should be awarded special concessions and reduced regulatory fee from the government by way of incentives as is the case in Singapore.
All government offices should be converted into green buildings with roof top gardens as model structures that can be replicated by other private building owners. Most importantly, women led initiatives in supporting roof top gardens should be encouraged as this will allow the children of the women to also be involved in healthy and productive activities.