Back to Feature, News,

Climate Volunteer Programme in Pakistan

The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan hosted a group of climate volunteers in Pono village, Sindh, from 15-25 September 2023.

The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan and INTBAU Pakistan hosted a group of international and Pakistani volunteers in Pono village in Sindh province, from 15-25 September.

Pono Eco Village is one of a cluster of 13 villages in Sindh province where 1,000 families have become self-sufficient following the disastrous floods which displaced 33 million people across Pakistan in August 2022.

From 15-25 September, volunteers were given the chance to immerse themselves in the low carbon construction techniques that locals have adopted in this area with the support and guidance of humanitarian architect, Yasmeen Lari and her team at the Heritage Foundation.

Participants were invited to learn, to share, and simply to offer their support to local communities by taking an interest in their extraordinary skill and resilience.

The first group to visit from 15-25 September included participants from the UK, Poland, China, Greece, Pakistan and Australia.

Volunteers started by visiting the neighbouring villages of Jaloo Jamadar, Kewal Goth, Taj Mohammad to meet the locals and undertake surveys, and conduct hazard mapping and research.

Participants were also offered the chance to join in practical workshops, along with additional opportunities to experiment, design and build with earth, lime and bamboo.

Participants presented their design proposals for floating structures constructed from bamboo, two of which were then built with support from local villagers, with the aim being to build a structure that could act as a refuge for villagers amidst the flooding in rural Sindh that continues to displace thousands of people each year.

A second group of international volunteers will visit the village in January 2024.

Special thanks go to the programme sponsor, The Jeffrey Cook Charitable Trust, for making this opportunity possible. Additional thanks to the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, and to faculty members from the University of Lahore’s Department of Architecture who provided their support.

Thanks also go out to our volunteers, who showed great resilience and determination, working in difficult climactic conditions.

“I have been mourning for all of your
company whilst reconciling that our
shared memories will last forever. Pakistan
has cemented itself inside my heart and I
have been sharing my experience with
anyone who will lend an ear. I am counting
down the days until I can visit again.”

Lilliana Marwood, Msc Urban Planning, RMIT Melbourne

“ I’m missing the heat of Pakistan already. Thank you for giving us all this opportunity to see that real grassroots work can actually be done to change lives from a truly compassionate approach to architecture. Lessons learned recently I will not forget and look forward to applying them to my creative

Edward Carden, 2nd year BA Architecture, University of Cambridge

“Living amongst the residents of Pono for a week showed a side of the most vulnerable that is not portrayed in the media. The people of Pono are smart and capable, and simply needed the opportunity to help themselves from the ground. Their natural sense of community has been beneficial to their survival before the program and beneficial to their growth after. These people have had the luck of being born in this community and the misfortune of being born on their land.
It is mind-blowing to witness their development in just 9 months, and how far it has taken them compared to other villages. Their success has spread so much we have witnessed people from other villages come in eager to learn how to empower themselves like Pono without any prompting from the organization. They showed them hospitality the same way they have shown us. Villages supported by the heritage foundation have found the confidence to take in people affected in neighbouring villages and share the craft.”

Elisa Tateo, 1st year BA Architecture, University of Cambridge

More resources:

Download the final report:

Download the report here.

Watch the recap video:

Final report and recap video credits: The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan


Become an INTBAU member

Did you know that there are several ways to get involved with INTBAU?

General Membership is FREE and is the easiest way to join our network of nearly 9,000 members worldwide and to get involved in our international programmes. Become a General Member at: General Membership | INTBAU

Professional Membership: The INTBAU College of Traditional Practitioners is a peak international professional body for practitioners in traditional urban design, architecture, and the building arts. Learn more at: Professional Membership | INTBAU.