Access To Shelter

Housing Conditions

A housing census was conducted in 1980 and again in 1998. The census shows major differences in the housing conditions of urban and rural areas and also between housing conditions in the different provinces of Pakistan. The number of housing units in the urban areas has increased by about 70 per cent between the two censuses whereas rural housing units have increased by 50 per cent. Persons per housing unit has increased in the rural areas from 6.6 to 6.8 and remained the same in the urban areas at 7 persons. However, persons per room have declined in both urban and rural areas from 3.2 to 2.9 and from 3.6 to 3.2 respectively. As such one can say that congestion has reduced.

The most dramatic change has taken place in electricity supply. Between the two censuses electricity availability has increased from 30.58 per cent households to 70.46 per cent. However, piped water in the rural areas is available to only 13.37 per cent households and 69.25 per cent households in the rural areas have no latrines. Even in the urban areas only 50.68 per cent households have latrines and 60.22 per cent have piped water in their homes. These figures paint a dismal picture of housing conditions in Pakistan. These conditions are given in Table 1: Housing Conditions: Pakistan. The more urbanised provinces have better housing conditions and these are given in Appendix – 1: Housing Conditions: Provinces.

Table – 1

Housing Conditions: Pakistan

Pakistan Total Rural Urban
Conditions 1980 1998 1980 1998 1980 1998
No. of Housing units 12,587,650 19,211,740 9,033,475 13,181,175 3,554,173 6,030,565
Rental Housing (%) 7.73 8.64 2.16 2.22 21.87 22.66
Owned Housing (%)  78.38 81.19 82.60 86.80 67.68 68.92
One Room Houses (%) 51.54 38.11 55.06 41.65 42.58 30.38
2-4 Room Houses (%) 10.78 15.97 9.63 14.54 13.68 19.11
Persons/ housing unit 6.7 6.8 6.6 6.8 7.0 7.0
Persons/ room 3.5 3.1 3.6 3.2 3.2 2.9
Electric Connections (%) 30.58 70.46 14.66 60.07 71.04 93.14
Piped Water in house (%) 12.62 28.08 2.53 13.37 38.26 60.22
Piped Water outside house (%) 7.72 4.18 2.88 3.89 20.04 4.81
Water: rest from hand pumps,ponds, canals etc. (%) 79.65 67.74 94.59 82.74 41.70 34.97
Separate Latrine - 28.58 - 18.46 63.53 50.68
Shared Latrine with other housing unit - 20.44 - 12.29 9.37 38.26
No Latrine - 50.98 - 69.25 27.10 11.06
RCC roofs (%) 8.55 21.39 1.50 10.43 26.49 45.35

Prepared by Masooma Mohib from Housing Census Report of Pakistan 1980, Government of Pakistan and 1998 Census Report of Pakistan, Government of Pakistan

4. Low Income Shelter Issues

Government Responses And Their Limitations

The provision of shelter, especially land, to the low income group is the major housing problem in Pakistan. The government has recognised this and has made various attempts to address it. Some of these attempts have been briefly described in Section 2 and the reasons for their failure have also been mentioned. In addition to them, the government under its Five Point Programme in 1987 initiated the Shelter and Land Development schemes for low income families which consisted of 2 room houses and 7 marla plots for rural areas and 3 marla plots for urban areas. Most of these shelter and land development schemes were never completed and those that were are still lying empty since they are located far from places of employment, are not serviced by access roads and do not have the required physical and social sector infrastructure. The project was abandoned in 1989. Again, in 1989 the government initiated the Shelter for Low Income Communities Programme which the World Bank agreed to fund through a US$ 149 million loan. Projects were supposed to benefit a population of 400,000 and also envisaged the strengthening of the National Housing Authority. The Programme was discontinued even before it could meet 10 per cent of its target.

In 1994, the government also formulated a National Housing Policy. A draft of a new policy has also been prepared. However, none of these two documents address the issues of affordability of housing for low income groups or the issue of credit for the purchase of land. The provisions of the policies are heavily in the favour of private development companies who do not cater to the needs of the lower income groups.

The most effective programme of the government which has benefited tens of thousands of poor families is the KAIRP and as such it needs to be explained in some detail.  The KAIRP is entirely a government programme. It aims at regularising 2,320 katchi abadis in Pakistan which have a population of over 7.6 million. In addition, it aims at improving the settlements by providing water, sanitation, electricity, road paving and social facilities. The beneficiaries are supposed to pay for this improvement through land and development charges known collectively as “lease charges”. At present, all settlements on government land that have more than 40 houses in them and which were established before 23 March 1985 are to be regularised provided they are not in ecologically dangerous zones. The programme in its present form has been in operation since 1978. However, it has been facing a number of problems which are discussed below.

According to a 1989 evaluation (there has been no national level evaluation since), the pace of work under the KAIRP had been slow. Only 13.85 per cent of the households had been regularised since 1978 and 22.41 per cent of abadis had been or were in the process of being developed. The reasons for the slow pace of work were given as a lack of funds; heavy government subsidies in development along with a lack of recovery of development charges which prevented funds from revolving; and a lack of community involvement in the programme. To keep up with the increasing backlog of katchi abadis, 100,000 households would have to benefit annually from the programme. However, only 30,000 houses were upgraded annually during the 1977-89 period1. Since 1989, performance on an all Pakistan level has not improved.

Although funds are given as one of the reasons for the slow pace of work, according the 1989 evaluation, only Rs 200 million of the Rs 400 million (US$13 million) allotted every year for the programme were actually utilised. This, points to a lack of capacity on the part of the programme implementing agencies to carry out the work. Conditions have not improved in the last 10 years2. Another important negative factor is that much of the funding for the programme has come from external sources as loans and this has added to the debt burden on Pakistan. This aspect makes the programme unsustainable in the long run.

The development programme frequently manages to develop on-site infrastructure, but it fails to provide secondary infrastructure to link the abadis with the town’s or city’s trunk and communication network. Because of this the infrastructure provided often does not function. In addition, there is a lack of trust between the government agencies and the people and no community participation in the programme. The development work undertaken is substandard and as such the residents do not wish to pay for it. Also, acquiring a lease is a long and complicated procedure involving many steps and catering to corruption. Due to these factors, residents do not come forward to acquire leases although they do desire a de-jure tenure security. Another major negative factor is that once a settlement has been notified as a katchi abadi or is large enough to seek security in numbers, its residents are not under pressure to legalise their homes.

  1. Asian Devel­op­ment Bank: Pak­istan Low Cost Hous­ing Project: 1989
  2. Author’s obser­va­tions and reports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

site design by iMedia
Mobile Menu
Responsive Menu Image Responsive Menu Clicked Image