Social enterprise and the limits of philanthropy: emergency response in the “world’s most dangerous megacity”
Feb. 11, 2014 – Andrea Titus
Walking into the dusty command and control center of the Edhi Foundation’s ambulance service in Karachi, Pakistan, I am immediately struck by the modesty of the space. A row of metal chairs sit in front of old land line telephones. Three men in red shirts annotate a white board with a count of calls from city subdivisions. The phones ring steadily, but the ambience is calm. This is despite the fact that, according to the center’s manager, around 6,000 calls will be routed through command and control in any given 24 hours, many of these dispatched to the organization’s 300 ambulances spread across the city at strategically located key points.
When Abdul Sattar Edhi founded his ambulance service in the 1950s, it was the only one of its kind. Now the Edhi Foundation operates just one of a handful of ambulance services in Karachi, ranging from run-down vans with first aid kits to state-of-the-art vehicles with advanced life support equipment. When I arrived in the city with one of my classmates this past January to do field research on financial and operational challenges facing ambulance services in the region, disentangling the map of providers had felt … Read More »