Note on a Visit to Dadu and Khairpur Nathan Shah, Sindh

1.    Background

Mr. Iqbal Memon, DCO Dadu asked me to visit Khairpur Nathan Shah to give advise on what could be done for its rehabilitation. I arrived at Dadu at 1700 hours on 10 October. I was accompanied by my colleague Engineer Mansoor Raza and by Architect Saeed uddin Ahmad, a teacher at the Department of Architecture and Planning, NED University, Karachi. The MPA of Khairpur Nathan Shah, Imran Zafar Laghari, the DCO and the TMA Sikandar Panhwar briefed us at the DCO’s office. The following information was useful.

  • Drinking water for the town came from eight kilometres away from seven tube wells. In addition, there was a filtration plant located within the settlement which utilises canal water.
  • The sewage system in the town consisted of open drains which terminated at three collection points from where the sewage was pumped into the saim nali. Some of the sewage was disposed into open cesspits (johars).
  • The population of the town was 150,000 which means about 15,000 households. The settlement is divided into paras (neighbourhoods) on the basis of caste and quom.
  • The town has one private school, one degree college each for girls and boys, high schools and primary schools. Around 12 educational institutions are affected by the floods along with a building of the Health Department and an under-construction hospital.
  • There is no government land available in the town any more.

2.    Observations

11 October we drove to Khairpur Nathan Shah through flooded countryside using link roads. At the town we took a boat and surveyed the town and its surrounding areas. The following was observed

  • Except for a portion of main bazaar, the rest of the town was completely under water and devoid of population. Since the town was under-water, it was difficult to assess the extent of damage.
  • Some of the government buildings were badly damaged, parts of them having collapsed. However, some of the buildings seem to have survived the floods rather well.
  • Almost all the houses had either collapsed or had been badly affected and so had the shops in the bazaar except for those on higher ground.
  • Although the buildings had collapsed, their doors, windows, lintels, girders, timber rafters, roof angle iron are all reusable. Most of the walls in burnt brick in cement mortar have survived the floods. However, burnt brick walls in mud mortar have collapsed but the bricks can be reused. Mud houses have collapsed but the mud is available for reuse in construction.

3.    People’s Perceptions

Conversations with the affectees yielded the following results

  • To begin with they require clean water, toilets and a roof under which they can sit. This can be a temporary structure while they reconstruct their homes.
  • They do not want the government to construct houses for them. They feel that these houses will be substandard, contractors will make large profits at their expense, and “others” will make commissions.
  • They want cash to which they can add their own cash and labour and build a home. They realize that the government cannot compensate them fully.
  • They want to repossess their original piece of land.

4.    Approaches for Rehabilitation

There are two ways in which the rehabilitation of the town can be approached.

a) Suggestions were made that a new town should be designed and developed so that we have a better environment and facilities. However, this would involve redefining of landuse and land ownership patterns. This will be a long process and an expensive one. In addition, the people we spoke to were not in favour of it. This process will also require technical, managerial and administrative expertise and coordination with political representatives. Given the lack manpower situation in local government and construction skills available, it is not possible to follow this option. Also, it is likely to lead to conflicts over ownership and distribution and will cost a minimum of Rs 75 billion over a five year period.

b) The right and doable approach would be

  • Immediate actions:
    • Restore the water supply system. This can be done within four weeks after the waters recede. The restoration should not cost more than Rs 2.5 million.
    • Through a google image prepare a road, landuse and ownership inventory with measurements.
    • Carry out a rapid assessment of damage and its extent to private properties, infrastructure (roads, drains, electricity) and government institutions and on that basis work out a rehabilitation, desilting and reconstruction programme.
    • Create para committees to manage the construction of latrines and temporary structures. Payments for this can be made directly to the owners. Designs for the latrines can be provided by me.
  • Later interventions:
    • Reshaping the water supply system to eliminate the filteration plant and install solar pumping on the tube wells that supply water to the town. Help for this can be sought from Thardeep who have experience in solar technology. Contact persons: Dr. Sono Khangharani; email:; tel: 0333-2600935 and Mr. Narumal; email:; tel: 0333-2511206. Cost: Rs 8 million
    • Design and implement an underground gravity flow sewage system for the town along the existing open drains. Rehabilitate the three disposals and replace the existing disposal pumps by solar pumps. Cost: Rs 120 million In this process, the cesspools will be eliminated and the health conditions in the town will be considerably improved.
    • Improve existing government buildings and redesign the ones that cannot be rehabilitated. The new designs should be climatically suitable and of local materials. NED University’s Department of Architecture and Planning could help in this process. Contact person: Dr. Noman Ahmed, email:; tel: (021) 9921 3058 & 59.
    • Develop a tree plantation and landscape plan for the town and prepare for the implementation of it. To be costed with the Forest Department.
    • Prepare and implement road and street paving using the brick on edge technique. This will promote the manufacture of bricks and help the economy. To be costed once the water has receded.
    • Initiate a community managed solid waste disposal system on the pattern followed by the Akhtar Hameed Khan Memorial Trust in Rawalpindi’s peripheral villages. Contact person: Ms. Sumaira Gul, email: and telephone number is 0333-515 3501 and 0334-515 3501.
  • Implementation process:
    • For implementing the above proposals, a cash for work programme should be initiated in which the local population should be provided jobs on a daily-wage basis. Also, local skills should be utilised. My estimate for overall rehabilitation (minus housing) is Rs 500 million over a 4 year period, of this Rs 200 million would be labour costs which could provide earnings to the local population.
    • The production of burnt bricks at kilns can be subsidised by providing free fuel to the brick kiln owners for two years. This can considerably reduce the cost of bricks for local construction, increase the supply of bricks and of jobs at the kilns.
    • The government might consider the removal of sales tax on steel girders and T-sections that are used in roof construction.
  • House construction:
    • The government intends to provide every family Rs 100,000. This can be used for house improvement and/or reconstruction. Most of the houses will be in mud. As such, it is necessary to use improved mud technology. This can be done by using the hand-operated Cinvaram machine which makes strong and smooth mud bricks or by developing rammed earth cast in steel shuttering techniques which also produce smooth and strong wall surfaces. These technologies can be introduced by training local masons in their use and manufacture. The organisational requirements for this process can be provided by my office. The machines, technology and training required can be provided by Council for Works and Housing Research in Karachi. The contact person there is Engineer N.H. Taqvi. His telephone number is 0300-2781655 and email address is
    • For house building and design advise a cell consisting of an architect, an engineer, a quantity surveyor cum supervisor and a site supervisor should be created and financed by an NGO or international organisation. This cell will be located in Khairpur Nathan Shah and will interact with the local population, understand their needs and provide technical support and managerial guidance to the house builders. They will introduce and promote improved mud technology techniques and for this they will receive orientation at the Council for Works and Housing Research and at my office. The UN-Habitat office in Islamabad might be interested in supporting the creation of such a cell. The contact person there is Architect Fazal Noor. His email address is and telephone number is 0300-8297602. SRSO might also be interested in this venture. The contact person there is Dr. Sono Khangharani.

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