OPP Six Questions

3.6 The Question of Replicability

It has always been said of the OPP that its success is due to the “charisma” of Akhtar Hameed Khan and the funds that the BCCI has made available for research and extension, Without these two ingredients the project cannot be replicated.1

One cannot argue with these two contentions. However, a methodology has been developed, and research to make sanitation technology compatible with the economics and sociology of the residents of “katchi abadis” has been successfully carried out. In addition, a demonstration area where this methodology and research has been applied has been created in Orangi. It is these factors that have led to the development of Masoom Shah Colony in Karachi on the Orangi model last year.

Masoom Shah Colony is a squatter settlement about 12 miles from Orangi. It consists of about 120 houses. The inhabitants all belong to one clan and are beggars by profession. A public spirited young couple2 had been working for many years trying to educate the children and give advice to the residents on health issues. They contacted the OPP last year in January and asked for advice on the laying of an underground sewerage system. The OPP gave the resident tools, technical assistance, and trained the local mason and plumber regarding its sanitation technology, so that they could supervise the work themselves. The Masoom Shah Colony residents raised the funds for development and their activists visited the lanes of Orangi. As a result a 540 feet long main drain was laid to which house clusters are now connecting their latrines, An improvement in the environment has already taken place.

The OPPs involvement in Masoom Shah Colony’s sewerage development made the OPP aware of its limitations. Thus it was realized that the OPP could not carry out surveys, establish bench marks and supervise work in distant “katchi abadis” without adversely effecting OPP’s own work in Orangi. Nor could OPP’s organizers constantly visit other abadis to sort out sociological or managerial problems of the people involved in development.

Consequently it has been decided that

  1. The OPP can motivate the people of other abadis on their request by holding a meeting in their area, and explaining the OPP programme through talks, video films and slide shows.
  2. It can invite interested activists to Orangi for a few days and train them in motivation and organization principles.
  3. In its demonstration area in Orangi it can train technicians, masons, plumbers etc., from other abadis to establish bench marks, levels etc and in the OPP Low Cost Sanitation technology. Most new “katchi abadis” have engineers living in them. They would be most useful for this purpose.
  4. It can give tools on loan to community organizations in other abadis thus freeing them of their dependence on contractors.
  5. It can monitor the progress of work and document the whole efforts

Baba Island is an Island of Fishermen in the Arabian Sea, a couple of miles from the Karachi main land. At the request of the Baba Island Fishermen’s Welfare Association, (BIFWA) the OPP held a meeting at the Island and explained its low cost sanitation programme to the residents in June last year. As a result the organization is now constructing a main drain through the centre of the Island (cost of materials for this drain is being funded by the Canadian Mission Fund). The lanes will then organize themselves and lay their own sewers and connect themselves to the main drain. The organization has employed an engineer, a plumber and a mason, all residents of the Island, to oversee the work of the people OPPs technical consultant is giving BIFWA advice on the project.

If Municipal Corporations and State Urban Development Agencies of Pakistan accept the Orangi model and make it a part of their development strategy, most of the difficulties they face today with regard to sanitation can be overcome. The development cost to the user would be one sixth of what it is today, and the KMC expenditure on research and extension would be 5% of this sum. The problem of collecting high development charges, or recovering loans in installments would also be overcome. In addition, maintenance, which is increasingly becoming a major problem for the local bodies, would be taken care of by the residents. No more foreign loans at high rates of interest would be required, Orangi could act as the demonstration area and could house a “Research and Training Institute for the Development of Katchi Abadis’. This proposal has been put forward to the Federal Planning Commission of Pakistan by Akhtar Hameed Khan, and has been accepted in principle.

  1. This subject has been raised at almost all seminars in which the OPP model has been presented
  2. Bernadette and Denick Dean

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