urbanization
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Saud Bin Ahsen|

Urbanization can be defined as the increase in population in urban areas rather than rural areas. Urbanization results from three different and not always related processes.

a) natural increase in urban population through higher birth rate/lower death rates in urban areas compared to rural areas;

b) migration from rural to urban areas, or urban areas to peri-urban areas; and

c) increase in population density in particular locations that transform some rural areas into urban areas.

Each of the above three reasons played a vital role in South Asian urbanization. The last two have become increasingly more significant in the past decade and mostly neglected by policy makers (Kugelman, 2013).

People are continuously attracted towards cities which offer better employment and social life along with educational and medical facilities. A major factor contributing to these perceptions, as argued in contemporary development literature, are both misconceptions and underestimations of actual poverty in urban spaces.

The governments do not understand the importance of following holistic city plans in line with strong urban and housing policies, the direction of urbanization will keep producing the negative impacts

Due to the high-income disparity in cities, GDP and income statistics when averaged out delineate an untrue picture of urban livelihoods, where poverty is hidden in crevices of developed spaces. This leads to an increase in migration from rural to urban, which alongside the increase in population exerts pressure on public services, but also spurs the informal housing market to feed the housing shortages caused by inadequate planning.

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Like other countries in the world, Pakistan also endorses international agreements like United Nations Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements in 1976 with ensuring adequate and decent housing for all. Moreover, Article 38 (D) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan recognizes housing or shelter as a basic right of people of Pakistan: “Provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their   livelihood   on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment”. But actual situation is quite contrary to the constitutional provisions.

Provincial and local governments should be given the financial and technical capacity, and the administrative responsibility to understand that a sound urban and housing policy will create the positive urbanization

The housing crisis in Pakistan started right after the creation of Pakistan, which triggered an inflow of refugees in Pakistan. The Urban housing of Pakistan has increased complex as well as advanced in degree and multifaceted nature since then. Spatial development of settlements towards external bearings of urban communities and monetary advancement, for instance, has set off the requirement for an extensive variety of new urban administrations and requested principal revamping of political and authoritative establishments.

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Additionally, there are a lot of variables like asset imperatives, mechanical changes, rising desires, defilement and chances to work abroad, that have influenced and thusly have been influenced by, urban life. All things considered, it changed the way of urban issues as well as necessities, objectives, and goals of urban advancement; likewise, the social plan of urbanization, have been changed.

The nature of housing units is likewise at the lower side as Pakistan is positioned eighth among the ten nations that on the whole hold 60 percent of substandard housing over the world. Karachi, one of the world’s quickest developing megacities, positioned second most minimal in South Asia and 6th least on the planet on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 liability index. But livability index not only covers housing but also other factors like transport facilities, civic services health facilities, environmental conditions etc. this situation is alarming and needs the attention of policy makers for immediate remedy.

A joint venture of Private Housing Companies and banks can be framed by all provincial governments who will give contract advances for social housing to lower and lower middle-income groups as in Aashiana Housing Scheme in Punjab

In addition to the housing shortage, there is also a major issue relating to the condition of housing in existing slums and squatter settlements. In urban areas, a large part of the population lives in slums. Slums are human settlements, mostly in urban peripheries or blighted urban areas, where the poor, the labor class and marginalized communities live. Urban slums are a major issue in Pakistan which we are facing amidst the urbanization process.

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According to the United Nations Millennium Development Indicators, the percentage of urban population living in slums has decreased from 51% in 1990 to 45.5% in 2014. This calculation is based on a proxy to represent the proportion of urban population living without one or more of four critical factors considered necessary for adequate housing conditions. These factors include access to clean drinking water, improved sanitation facilities, durable roof and walls materials of dwelling units and lastly no overcrowding (defined as more than 3 persons living per room).

Although this figure does show a marginal improvement in the lives of the poor, it is still much higher than the regional average for South Asia which was estimated to be 30.7% in 2014.These UN statistics show that Pakistan has only reduced 6% of urban slums in a period of almost 15 years, an alarming situation indeed.

Investors, speculators or upper middle classes generally purchased that public land allocated for formal housing in the name of the poor who kept it unutilized for years

Pakistan’s one of the most important issue is a shortage of housing to the urban poor. Pakistan is the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia at an annual rate of approximately 3% and an urban population is about 40%. There exist shortages of around 8 million houses, continuously adding at the rate of 300,000 per year, According to these calculations this figure has already crossed 10.5 million by 2017 and will exceed 13 million by the year 2025.

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Over the most recent 70 years, governments have created different plans for the poor people like; Widows housing from Zakat fund, little-developed units, microvillus, site and administrations, 3 to 5 Marla schemes, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plan of low price apartments. These plans have neglected to take care of the demand of low-wage peoples either the finished result did not achieve the low-salary people or they couldn’t get the focused on benefits.

Investors, speculators or upper middle classes generally purchased that public land allocated for formal housing in the name of the poor who kept it unutilized for years. While there is broad liquidity in banks and renting organizations and loan fees are comparatively low, the financial resources present are not being directed into housing for lower- and lower-middle income groups.

Pakistan’s one of the most important issue is a shortage of housing to the urban poor. Pakistan is the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia at an annual rate of approximately 3% and an urban population is about 40%

It is needed to ensure the availability of reasonable land at moderate costs for low-pay individuals. The governments may provide developers with the incentive of higher Floor Area Ratios in return for a mandatory number of units strictly for low-income households.

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A joint venture of Private Housing Companies and banks can be framed by all provincial governments who will give contract advances for social housing to lower and lower middle-income groups as in Aashiana Housing Scheme in Punjab. Terms may likewise be created to make resale of property troublesome and unrewarding for at least 15 years.

Before involving the private sector, the government of Pakistan must increase the capacity of all provincial and local governments to responsibly plan for their cities and assess the urban-rural linkages. Provincial and local governments should be given the financial and technical capacity, and the administrative responsibility to understand that a sound urban and housing policy will create the positive urbanization externalities the country seeks.

If the governments do not understand the importance of following holistic city plans in line with strong urban and housing policies, the direction of urbanization will keep producing the negative impacts.

Saud Bin Ahsen is Post-Grad student of Public Administration at Institute of Administrative Sciences (IAS), University of the Punjab, Lahore and associated with a Think Tank Institute. He is interested in Comparative Public Administration, Post-Colonial Literature, and South Asian Politics. He can be reached at saudzafar5@gmail.com

Saud Bin Ahsen is Post-Grad student of Public Administration at Institute of Administrative Sciences (IAS), University of the Punjab, Lahore. He is interested in Comparative Public Administration, Post-Colonial Literature, and South Asian Politics.

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