How to Eliminate Slums in Pakistan

How to Eliminate Slums in Pakistan

Niaz Ahmad (University of Peshawar, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJUPSC.2020070103
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Pakistan is faced with the challenge of population increase and uncontrolled urbanization. Government failure to properly manage and accommodate the increased population in cities has been the major cause for slum formation. The government attempted various techniques to overcome the slum condition in cities. However, these initiatives were never chosen through a research process, nor were these evidence based. This research advocates that slums are formed through various means and that each requires different techniques, rather than upgrading infrastructure only. The reason for the existence of these slums is that public sector housing is not in range of the needy class nor is there some sort of mechanism for them to meet their housing demand in a proper manner. Therefore, the market forces are free to carve alternate ways for the shelter needs of the poor. This is how slums formed and progressed in Pakistan. The government spent millions every year but failed to stop slum formation. This research is to understand the slum formation process and suggests the choice of a feasible option among preventive or curative measures for its clearance.
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Un-managed urbanization has widespread ramification on physical and social infrastructure (Rojas and Eduardo, 2010). This has exacerbate inequality, exclusion and vulnerability among the urban dwellers (UN-Habitat, 2008; 2010b).The rise of such an urbanization in parallel with gaps in urban planning and land management has contributed to the lack of serviced land and affordable housing (UN-Habitat, 2003; Banerjee and Banashree, 2010). This phenomenon has led to the rise of slums and have caused haphazard urban growth in most of the developing countries (Banerjee, 2006). UN-Habitat State of the World Cities Report 2012/13 proclaimed that the proportion of urban population residing in informal settlements rose to 49% in Pakistan. Similarly, a recent study of UN-habitat regarding the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Settlements Improvements Program (KP-SIP)-2016 highlighted that presently, the proportion of slum dwellers are likely to increase unless there is an increase in the availability of service land and equal access to affordable housing for low income dwellers of the cities.

It has been identified through various studies that population increase and institutional capacities are responsible for mismanagement in cities (Banerjee and Banashree, 2011; Cities Alliance, 2011). Population of Pakistan is reached to almost 207 million (GoP, 2017). Among it, the urban share is about 76 million, growing at the rate of3% per annum, adding further 1.6 million people annually to the urban share with no thought out plan. This process of uncontrolled urbanization has resulted in overcrowding and deterioration of environment in cities (Baker and Judy, 2008). It has severely taxed the already inadequate civic amenities and services to a considerable extent. Consequently, most of the posh localities of ancient time are engulf by slums characteristics (Handzic, 2010). It vigorously intensified the process of gentrification from these localities to the better places or newly emerged towns (Fernandes, 2011; UN-Habitat, 2006, 2008). Most of the evacuated houses are illegally converted into other profitable uses. Illegal subdivision coupled with incompatible change of use has not only disturb the social fabric but rather paved ways for further deprivation and delinquencies. This process of continuous plot subdivision and land use violation caused densification and intensification of the available services and amenities. This phenomenon increases dilapidation and environmental degradation within these localities and finally convert it into slums (UN-Habitat, 2010a). The goal of this research is to discourage slum formation in cities.

Provision of services (curative approach) is no more a suitable solution, as when the government up-grade one slum another crop up even faster than the one’s up gradation. Therefore, this research advocate that there is a need to shift engineering solution to that of an urban planning approach. Various type of slums are to be dealt with according to its formation process. Because, adopting curative measure to improve the miserable condition in slums clearance programs, particularly Community Infrastructure Project (CIP) been carried out in the whole of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (during nineties) but didn’t succeed. The government did upgrade some portion of the existing slums, however, no action were taken to stop further formation of slums. Resultantly, the process of slum formation didn't stop even with the spent of millions of funds through CIP project in KP.

Similarly, Global Report on Human Settlements (2009) highlighted the widespread failure of curative approach to improve the living condition of the majority of urban inhabitants, living in predominantly strapped municipalities of rapidly growing cities in the developing world. The report assesses the effectiveness of urban planning as a tool for dealing with the unprecedented challenges facing 21st-century cities and firmly suggest to enhance sustainable urbanization. However, throughout the developing world, urban planning systems is very weak and have often failed to solve urban problems. Particularly the problem of urban fragmentation and mismanagement. It induced urban sprawl (formation of slums and squatter settlements) in Pakistan too.

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