Access To Shelter

Box – 6: Saiban’s Incremental Housing Scheme: The Khuda-ki-Basti Model

Incremental Development:

Unlike public housing schemes, where plots are too expensive for the poor because of high development costs, Saiban’s model ensures that housing is offered to the poor at affordable prices. Consistent with the socio-economic needs of low income groups, plots with minimal services are sold to poor households for an affordable down payment. Subsequent payments are staggered over a six-year period, and are used to incrementally develop remaining infrastructure: electricity, sewerage disposal and water connections, etc. This incremental approach to housing, thus allows residents to have a secure plot and necessary physical services at an affordable price. Speculation is made difficult by asking families to start living on the plot immediately after allotment. They do not have to follow any bye-laws or expensive specifications for housing building. These requirements also ensure that only very poor and needy families will apply for a plot.

Legal Housing:

A key benefit of Khuda-ki-Basti is the opportunity to live in a secure environment with legal entitlement. Residents in Khuda-ki-Basti live free from the fear of eviction, unlike residents of informal settlements whose tenure remains illegal and uncertain for years. Legal title is conferred upon completion of payments, allowing residents to use their homes as legal economic assets to increase their overall wealth. According to recent published evidence, owning a legal asset reduces the probability of remaining poor by 55 per cent. Through active project management in the initial years and public participation in the building the settlement Saiban assures a safe habitat for the poor.

Socio-economic Opportunities:

Saiban takes a holistic approach to community development. Through active networks, Saiban facilities key services to Khuda-ki-Basti residents. Several of the country’s top education and health companies operate schools and health centres in Khuda-ki-Basti. Physical infrastructure and environment management is addressed through expert organisations partnering Saiban communities. Site plans include provision for parks, play grounds and other civic amenities. As local retail markets develop, major services are provided by private contractors, building manufacturers, transporters, and retailers – creating economic opportunity.

Financially Viably Scheme:

The Incremental Housing Scheme is based on a market based model where the poor pay for the product and service they receive. The scheme is self-financing through receipts from plot payments made by the clients. The incremental nature of the scheme reduces the cost recovery burden and solvency risk that prevail in public housing schemes. Saiban remains a lean operation with low overhead cost, which enhances financial viability. Access to public land enables the scheme to be financially viable for very poor sections of society. Through facilitating access to small home mortgages Saiban is making the scheme affordable for the poor on private land as well.

Source: Saiban

Shelter Issues In The Rural Areas

Very little research has been carried out on shelter issues for rural areas. There is a need to understand the changes that have taken place there as a result of a change from a barter to a cash economy and the weakening of feudal institutions. The major problem is that community lands on which villages were built are no longer available to poor families for building a home. This is because the feudal or community structure that managed these lands is now ineffective and most of them have either been encroached upon or have been sold in the open market by the more powerful members of the community.

Traditionally the hereditary artisanal and caste system used to provide good quality house building skills for which payments were made to the artisans by the house owners in agricultural produce, usually grain. With the emergence of a cash economy and a breakdown of the caste system these skills are no longer available to poor families at an affordable cost. In addition, traditional building materials which were acquired from community lands are no longer available as community lands exist only on paper. As a result, the quality of housing in the rural areas has declined considerably.

Government has provided water and drainage infrastructure to a large number of rural settlements. However, this infrastructure is far too expensive to put in place and much of it has been developed through loans from international funding institutions. As a result, Pakistan’s debt burden has increased. In addition, the planning for this infrastructure has assumed that local governments can operate and maintain it and has also ignored social realities and the possibility of community participation in its development, operation and maintenance. As a result, the majority of the water and sanitation schemes have either been abandoned or function erratically causing immense inconvenience to village communities and creating poor health and environmental conditions.

Possible Directions

For the urban areas the major problem for poor communities is that land is far too expensive for them to purchase. In addition, the procedures for acquiring it are long, cumbersome and not compatible with the sociology and culture of low income communities. They also require catering to corruption. The process of acquiring land may take five to ten years whereas the poor need land immediately. Building in formal settlements, requires architect’s services and the following of sophisticated standards and using expensive materials. The poor have immense difficulty in doing this. The Khuda-ki-Basti Model overcomes all these problems and as such needs to be promoted. Similarly, the problems of katchi abadi improvement and regularisation are overcome by the OPP models. They also need to be adopted as policy by government. Better understanding of problems of rural housing is required and as such research on them should be initiated.

Loans for the purchase of land to individual families or small cooperatives of poor families, using land as collateral should be promoted. Studies also show that poor communities need very small loans, for very small periods, for specific items such as for laying a roof or building a latrine. These loans are so small that no bank would agree to process them. Intermediate organisations or NGOs that can disburse and recover such loans on behalf of housing banks, should be supported. Poor households are not considered as loan-worthy. Innovative loan disbursing and recovery processes have to be developed to overcome this major conceptual constraint that conventional banking imposes on the housing sector.

Although the government has a programme for katchi abadi improvement and regularisation, it has no such programme for informal settlements created out of the subdivision of agricultural land. These subdivisions are increasing at a far greater rate than the katchi abadis. A programme for their improvement is required. In addition, Pakistan’s inner cities have turned into slums due to the expansion of wholesale markets, warehousing and related transport facilities. Poor families live in these inner cities in extremely congested and environmentally degraded conditions which are much worse than those in katchi abadis. To address this issue urban renewal plans are necessary for the inner cities and they will involve a relocation of certain essential city functions (such as wholesale markets) and better traffic management.

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