Views on Housing and Physical Planning Section of 9th Five Year Plan

A. Housing

1. Formal Sector Constraints and Performance

Over 80 per cent of all housing in Pakistan is provided by the informal sector because of the following reasons:

  • The formal sector does not have the capacity and capability to development housing on a large enough scale to meet Pakistan’s requirements.
  • The cost of formal sector development is too high for low income and lower middle income groups to afford.
  • Where subsidies are offered, land and property becomes subject to speculation and the target groups remain unreached.
  • Affordable land is only available in inappropriate locations and schemes developed there remain unoccupied.
  • People invariably manage to build homes but cannot raise money for the purchase of land. However, there is no credit available for the purchase of land, especially to low income-non-loan-worthy-communities.
  • Laws related to land acquisition are inadequate hence land assembly for formal sector schemes remains a problem.

2. Informal Sector Housing Provision

The informal sector provides housing by three processes.

  • Through informal subdivision of agricultural land. In this case, the residents have a de-jure tenure security.
  • Through the reclaiming of waste land and land prone to flooding.
  • Through the illegal occupation and subdivision of state land.
  • People finance the building of their own homes through various mechanisms. These include informal borrowing, joining a savings group and through support from local building contractors and material suppliers. For building their homes incrementally and improving them they require small sums of money rather than large loans.
  • Most homes built in this process are substandard in design and construction but then so are most of the homes in the formal sector.

3. Katchi Abadi and Slum Upgrading

Katchi abadi and slum upgrading have not been very successful in Pakistan except where communities have been involved and have participated in the funding of the process and have controlled finances themselves. Successful examples of this are the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) and the CBOs and government projects which have tried to replicate the OPP process in various parts of Pakistan.

4. Possibilities for Policy Formulation

The term “facilitation” is used often in government policy documents. What “facilitation” really means in practical terms is:

  • To remove the barriers from the informal sector and evolve directions for it so that it may become a part of a larger city planning exercise.
  • To develop a small loan programme which can be managed by intermediate organisations and utilised by lower middle and lower income groups.
  • To support small cooperatives (not more than 25 families each) with finances so that they can purchase land at locations that they have identified.
  • To promote the OPP methodology in housing, infrastructure and katchi abadi upgrading whereby government funds all off-site development and the community funds and manages on-site development. The promotion of this methodology requires the removal of the constraints that the replication process faces. These constraints have been clearly identified.

B. Infrastructure

5. Current Position

Infrastructure in Pakistani cities has broken down because:

  • The old infrastructure has not been improved or upgraded. Instead, plans for new infrastructure systems have been developed which require major investments and massive construction work which is beyond the capacity of the implementing agencies.
  • In all new settlements, citizens and communities, with support from local governments, invest in infrastructure at the neighbourhood level. However, the work they do is substandard due to the absence of proper technical support and supervision.
  • Major infrastructure (such as; trunks, treatment plants, drainage channels, water supply mains etc.) are missing which create a lot of problems for the infrastructure developed by local government and communities and often make it unworkable.
  • Storage, warehousing and wholesale market facilities, are missing from most cities due to which these facilities develop in inappropriate locations within the city causing traffic congestion, environmental degradation and the destruction of Pakistan’s urban (and in many cases rural) culture and architectural heritage.
  • Facilities for cargo handling, bus terminals, depots and workshops, are also missing and as a result they are located on roads and the services sector to them occupies most of the road space in our cities.
  • Where bye-passes have been built, they have been swamped by development thus defeating the purposes for which they were built.

6. Possibilities for Policy Formulation

  • The government should undertake the financing and building of all major infrastructure as a priority and leave the financing and development of all neighbourhood and sector infrastructure to NGOs, communities, interest groups and cooperative societies. Steps to support them need to be worked out. Here also the OPP model can be applied.
  • Institutional arrangements should be developed to protect the cities from environmental degradation and land from inappropriate landuse changes. This requires the involvement of interest groups in the planning and implementation process and its subsequent operation and maintenance (see below).

C. Institutional Issues

7. Land and Landuse

The major issue in physical planning, housing and infrastructure in Pakistan, both in the rural and urban areas is related to land, its misuse, its speculation and the resulting physical degradation and social conflict both in the rural and urban areas of the country. To prevent this from happening it is necessary that:

  • All government agencies should publish a list of land and real estate owned by them and its present and proposed landuse. This information should be public property and would help communities, NGOs and concerned citizens to protect land from misuse.
  • Land available with state agencies should be used primarily for the needs of the city and/or settlement and the protection of the environment. It should not be used for purely commercial purposes.
  • Anti-speculation.
  • To make the above possible, a new planning and monitoring processes need to be put in place.

8. Planning Process

It is necessary that the planning and implementation process should be transparent and should have the involvement and support of various interest groups in the city or the area for which planning is being done. This is possible if:

  • Plans and their financial aspects are exhibited for the public at large and discussed at the conceptual stage with NGOs, communities, interest groups and representatives of professional organisations. Only after feedback from them should detail planning be undertaken.
  • A steering committee consisting of representatives of the above mentioned groups should monitor and oversee the implementation of the plans. They should be paid for this involvement and the committee should have proper decision making powers regarding the plan and the process.
  • All financial matters related to the planning process and its implementation must be published in detail and this information should be available to all citizens.

9. Building Bye-laws and Zoning Regulations

Building bye-laws and zoning regulations should be revisited so as to reflect the trends that are taking place in the built-environment. The good practices should be encouraged and the bad trends should be regulated. All discretionary powers should be done away with and the process of building approval and monitoring must be simplified so that it becomes compatible with the sociology and economics of various income groups in Pakistan. This exercise must be undertaken by local consultants supported by relevant academic institutions. Citizens’ committees should oversee this process.

10. New Institutions

It is not necessary to create new top heavy institutions to develop the planning and implementation process. What is required is to develop the expertise of the existing institutions at the middle and lower levels where it is non-existent and to promote coordination at the different levels and inter institutional cooperation. To achieve this it may even be necessary to do away with certain institutions or to decentralise them from the provincial to district levels.

One Comment

  1. Very well said and written, this is something I am incorporating in the plan, will be discussing with you soon. Javaid

    Posted January 11, 2023 at 11:54 am | PermalinkReply

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