Access To Shelter

The planning standards developed for the KAIRP are also unnecessarily high and their application means the uprooting of up to 35 per cent of the katchi abadi population. The resettlement of this population poses major political, social and financial problems. As a result, the implementation of the standards does not take place and regularisation is being carried out by the government agencies in violation of their own standards. In addition, incorrect maps of the settlements are made by the government agencies and as a result a number of families and businesses are victimised and land grabbers benefited. To rectify these injustices and retain their homes, the affectees informally pay the staff of the concerned agencies.

For the foreseeable future, informal settlements will continue to cater to the housing needs of low income communities. This is because they are affordable for them and do not involve complex procedures for acquiring land and building a house. However, these settlements create a number of ecological and environmental problems for the cities of Pakistan. They develop as ribbons along major corridors out of the city, congesting them and making vehicular movement difficult. Alternatively, they develop in ecologically dangerous areas (such as land slides, marshes, areas prone to flooding or quarries) which the formal sector does not wish to develop or along natural water bodies into which they discharge their waste waster and sewage. They are often located outside municipal limits and their transport links with the city are problematic. Informal industrial activity within them creates difficult living conditions and parks and open spaces seldom exist within or along side them.

The government at various times has also expressed its desire to re-design KAIRP on the model of the work done by the OPP institutions in Karachi. These institutions have developed models that have tried to overcome the constraints that governments face in upgrading and rehabilitating existing informal settlements (see Box – 4: The Orangi Pilot Project). So far, this has not become policy except in the case of the Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority (SKAA), the Punjab Katchi Abadi Directorate (PKAD) and the Lodhran Municipal Committee. The defunct Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had also adopted this policy for certain projects in Karachi. The Karachi city government is continuing this work. SKAA has over the last 7 years evolved a new methodology of regularising and improving katchi abadis. The development of the infrastructure component in this methodology is based on the work of the OPP-RTI and leaves the development of neighbourhood infrastructure to the communities themselves and provides only major infrastructure. The nature, location, cost and design of the infrastructure is developed through a dialogue between neighbourhood organisations and SKAA. Costs of the projects are available to the community and in many cases, the work is managed by committees in which they are represented. In addition, getting a lease has become a simple one-window-operation that takes place within the settlement itself where a lease camp is established, complete with a registrar, and the residents are informed well in advance regarding it. Community organisations are made responsible for representing their community in this process as well.

The SKAA programme has created trust between communities and government agencies and introduced transparency and accountability in the development process. It has also simplified leasing procedures. Communities are now willing to acquire leases and their organisations have been strengthened. As a result, SKAA’s programme has become self-sustaining, requiring no foreign loans or government financial assistance. So far, SKAA has spent Rs 47.188 million on development in katchi abadis and recovered over Rs 147 million1.

Box – 4:   The Orangi Pilot Project (OPP)

Orangi is Karachi’s largest katchi abadi and has a population of 1.2 million. The OPP was established here in 1980 by Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan, the renowned Pakistani social scientist. In 1988 the project was upgraded into four autonomous institutions: The OPP-RTI; The Orangi Charitable Trust (OCT); Karachi Health and Social Development Association (KHASDA); and The OPP Society which channelises funds to these institutions.

The OPP considers itself a research institution whose objective is to analyse outstanding problems of Orangi, and then through action research and extension education, discover viable solutions. These solutions can then be applied, with modifications, where necessary to other settlements and become part of state policies. The OPP does not fund development but by providing social and technical guidance it encourages the mobilisation of local resources and the practice of co-operative action. Based on these principles, the OPP has evolved a number of programmes, some of which are described below.

The Low Cost Sanitation Programme is managed by the OPP-RTI. It enables low income families to construct and maintain an underground sewage system with their own funds and under their own management. For this programme, the OPP provides social and technical guidance (based on action research), tools and supervision of implementation. The OPP’s work has shown that people can finance and build underground sanitation in their homes, their lanes and neighbourhoods. This development is called “internal” development by the OPP. However, people cannot build “external” development consisting of trunk sewers, treatment plants and long secondary sewers. This only the state can provide. In Orangi, people have invested Rs 89.95 million on internal development (including 405 secondary sewers) in 6,350 lanes consisting of 90,596 houses (there are 104,917 houses in Orangi). The state would have spent over six times to do this work. The programme is being replicated in seven cities of Pakistan by NGOs and CBOs (whose activists and technicians have been trained at the OPP) and in 49 settlements in Karachi by the SKAA. The OPP concept has been accepted by the Karachi’s city government, SKAA and the PKAD and is being applied to their development plans with OPP advice.

The Family Enterprise Economic Programme is run by the OCT which was formed in 1987. The OCT borrows from commercial banks and then lends to small family businesses but without red-tape and collateral. These loans vary between Rs 1,000 and Rs 75,000. The aim of these loans is to increase production and generate jobs, which they have done. Loans are usually given to people who have expertise in what they plan to do or are already operating businesses. Interest is charged on the loans at the current bank rate of 18 per cent. Presently, there are 6,555 units being supported by OCT loans of Rs 123,738,610. Out of these Rs 97,327,482 have been paid back with a mark up of Rs 22,999,610. The recovery rate is 97 per cent. The World Bank has also given a grant as a revolving fund for the programme.

The OPP’s Low Cost Housing Programme provides loans and technical assistance (based on research) to building component manufacturing yards, or thallas as they are called, in Orangi so that they can mechanise their production, improve their products, train their staff and increase their production. In addition, the programme also trains masons in using the new technologies and components that are being developed at the manufacturing yards. Also, house builders are given advice on how to relate to the manufacturing yards and masons and also advice on design, light, ventilation and other hygiene related design aspects. To provide such advice, the OPP is in the process of training para-professionals who are mostly young unemployed youth from the Orangi communities who are paid by house builders or those who want improvement to their homes. The OPP housing programme thus tries to create a more equitable relationship between the actors in the housing drama, as a result of which housing has improved in Orangi.

So far, 57 thallas have been mechanised due to which employment has been generated and machine made blocks and roofing elements are being fabricated, not only for Orangi, but for the rest of Karachi as well. In addition, 33 masons have been trained and 2 para-architects after a training of 2 years at the OPP-RTI, have started working independently designing homes and community building and being paid for it.

The OPP research, programmes and their documentation, have provided NGOs, CBOs and government agencies with successful models for overcoming the physical, social and economic problems faced by low income settlements and communities. These have been successfully tested through government-OPP-community participation projects but have still to become official policy.

Increasingly, the OPP is getting involved in policy issues and promoting macro-level solutions, based on its models, to sanitation, health, housing and economic issues. This has led the OPP to document 300 katchi abadis in Karachi along with physical and economic proposals for upgrading the nallas (natural drains) of Karachi through which most of city’s sewage flows. For this work, the OPP trains young people from low income settlements who after their training become, not only an asset to the community to which they belong, but also a part of a larger movement to create self-reliance, freedom from foreign loans and grandiose projects and a more equitable relationship between low income communities and government agencies and their plans. At present, 20 young people are undergoing a 90-day training for survey, documentation, designing and estimation of existing and or proposed infrastructure in low income settlements. In addition, there are 7 young people undergoing a 2-year course in becoming para-architects. Two previously trained para-architects are now practising in their settlements.

Source: OPP Progress Reports

  1. SKAA: 21st Quar­terly Report, March 1999

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