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Slums of Karachi









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Slums of Karachi



Existing definitions of slums 5

Definition of slum by UN Habitat 5

Overview 6
Karachi: The largest city of Pakistan 8
Why do Slums develop? 11

Important characteristics of slums in Karachi 16

Karachi slum Problems 17

Poverty eradication through Gramean bank 25

Method of Action 27

Research on Sri Lankan system 29

Communal behavior 33

Bibliography 37

Made by Hassan Mahmood Shah & Sharjeel Ahmad Khan (INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY ISLAMABAD)
Slums of Karachi


The word “slum” is often used to describe informal settlements within cities that
have inadequate housing and squalid, miserable living conditions. They are often
overcrowded, with many people crammed into very small living spaces1.
These settlements lack basic municipal services such as water, sanitation, waste
collection, storm drainage, street lighting, paved sidewalks and roads for
emergency access. Most also do not have easy access to schools, hospitals or
public places for the community to gather. Many slums have been subserviced and
unrecognised for long periods, over 20 years in some cities.
Like all informal settlements, housing in slums is built on land that the occupant
does not have a legal claim to and without any urban planning or adherence to
zoning regulations. In addition, slums are often areas where many social indicators
are on a downward slide; for example, crime and unemployment are on the rise.
All slums are not the same, and some provide better living conditions than others.
Likewise, slum dwellers are not a homogeneous population, but a diverse group of
people with different interests, means and backgrounds.
Slums are also a significant economic force. In many cities, as much as 60 percent
of employment is in the informal sector of the urban population.
Today, more than one billion people in the world live in slums. In the developing
world, one out of every three people living in cities lives in a slum.


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Slums of Karachi

The picture that conjures up in our minds, when we talk about slums, is that of a
dirty, unhygienic cluster of impoverished shanties with long lines of people
crowding around a solitary municipal water tap, bowling babies literally left on
street corners to fend for themselves and endless cries and found voices emanating
from various corners. Most of them are engaged in eking out their daily lives,
always below the poverty line, by working as construction labourers, domestic
helps, rag pickers and chhotus in neighborhood dhabas. Though their living
conditions are utterly unhygienic, gloomy, and dismal and dehumanized, many of
them still dream of improving the quality of their lives.

The majority of slum dwellers identify themselves with the city rather than with
their native place and plan to settle permanently in the city. In spite of poor
conditions in slums, second generation residents who are not nostalgic about their
rural background - feel that life in slum is reasonably tolerable and city life is
probably better than rural life.

They greatly value improving their working situation through getting a better job,
yet have low aspirations and have an optimistic view of their chances of improving
their socio-economic status.

Many of the younger generation, irrespective of gender, income level and

educational attainment express their regard for education and foresee upward
social mobility for their children by educating their offspring as much as possible.

Our slums are indeed very dingy, dark and dismal. But the dark clouds are now
fading. Despite the inaction of civic authorities, and despite the efforts of
politicians and slum mafia to keep slum dwellers to remain docile, there are
definite signs of younger slum dwellers to improve the quality of their lives. Silver
linings are now becoming visible.
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Slums of Karachi

Plentiful of these was available in rural areas. They were encouraged to come to
cities and work. People, who migrated to the cities and found work, brought their
cousins and rest of the families to the cities. Unable to find housing and afford it,
they decided to build their shelter closer to work. Thousands of shelters were built
for the migrating laborers. Conniving governments provided electricity and
drinking water. Politicians looked at the slums as vote bank. They organized these
unauthorized dwellers into a political force; hence slums took a bit of a permanent
shape. More slums developed as more population moved to the cities. By mid
sixties Mumbai, Kolkata, Karachi, Delhi, and all other large cities were dotted with

Recent years have seen a dramatic growth in the number of slums as urban
populations have increased in the Third World. According to a recent UN-Habitat
report, 327 million people live in slums in Commonwealth countries almost one in
six Commonwealth citizens. In a quarter of Commonwealth countries (11 African,
2 Asian and 1 Pacific), more than two out of three urban dwellers live in slums,
and many of these countries are urbanizing rapidly.

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Slums of Karachi

Existing definitions of slums:

Different organizations have coined different definitions of slum for their working
purposes. Among them, the common definitions of slums are as:
1. Definition of slum by Lumanti2:
Slum communities are defined by poverty, low income, inadequate living
conditions and sub-standard facilities. These communities are usually inhabited by
socially disadvantaged people (people regarded as lower caste). Unlike squatter
settlements, the residents of these slum areas generally own their land and houses,
which are very small in size and have formal title papers (Lalpurja) to prove their
ownership. These communities are also officially recognized by authorities.On the
other hand, a slum area, where the residents do not have Lalpurjas is defined as a
squatter settlement. Thus, all squatter settlements are slums but a slum may not be
a squatter settlement.

2. Definition of slum by UN Habitat:

• Inadequate access to safe water.
• Inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure.
• Poor structural quality of housing.
• Overcrowding.
• Insecure residential status.

Common names for slums:


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Slums of Karachi

Barrio or tugurio (Latin

America) Katchi abadi (Pakistan)

Basti (Bangladesh) Masseque (Angola)

Bidonville (France/Africa) Shantytown

Favela (Brazil) Skid row

Ghetto Squatter cities

Kampung (Indonesia)

Population density of Pakistan as a whole has also increased from 42.5 people per
km2 in 1951 to 225 in 2008. Major increases in the urban population occurred
during the following periods:

1941 – 1951: This increase was due to the migration from India in 1947 when the
subcontinent was partitioned.
1951 – 1961: During this period, urban populations started to increase due to the
push factor created by the introduction of Green Revolution technologies in
agricultural production.

Case of Karachi, Pakistan by Arif Hasan Masooma Mohib.

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Slums of Karachi

1961 – 1972: In addition to the above mentioned reason , Pakistan started to

industrialize during this decade. This created a pull factor which increased rural-
urban migration. These trends continued during the next decade.
1981 – 1998: Overall growth rates declined due to increased literacy and
population planning programmes promoted by NGOs and the government. Urban
growth also declined due to the same reason.

Social Trends
In the urban areas there has been an increase in literacy; the narrowing of the male-
female literacy gap; an increase in the age at which people get married (especially
women); an increase in divorce rates; a reduction in the number of married people;
and a trend towards the formation of nuclear families as opposed to extended ones.

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Slums of Karachi

Karachi: The largest city of Pakistan4:

In 1935, Sindh became a province and Karachi became its capital. In 1947,
Pakistan was created and Karachi became its first capital. The demographic
changes that have taken place in Karachi since independence are given in Table A-

1947 – 1951: Karachi’s population increased by 161 per cent. This was the result
of the migration of 600,000 refugees from India.
1947 – 1958: During this period migration from India continued. The refugees
settled in squatter settlements on the city’s periphery and within the city itself
occupying open areas. Federal government offices were established along with

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Slums of Karachi

foreign embassies. As a result, Karachi became a high-density compact city with a

cosmopolitan culture. Many plans for developing a federal capital area adjacent to
the city were developed but could not be implemented due to political instability
caused for the most part by left-wing student movements supported by the refugee
1958 – 1968: The army took over in 1958 and decided to shift the capital to
Islamabad. It also decided shift the refugee population and other recent migrants
from the squatter colonies to two townships, Landhi- Korangi and New Karachi,
both about 20 km from the city centre. These two townships were part of the
Greater Karachi Resettlement Plan prepared by Doxiades, which laid the basis for
Karachi’s future development. The two townships were supposed to develop
industrial areas so as to provide employment to the shifted populations. However,
this did not materialize and as a result, people had to travel long distances to work
at the port and city centre. Thus, Karachi’s transport problems were created. The
military government bulldozed squatter settlements within the city. These shifted
to the sides of storm drains near the roads that linked the new townships to the city.
These settlements, or katchi abadis (non-permanent settlements), were developed
as ISDs by informal developers supported informally by government officials.
During this period, the government introduced Green Revolution technologies and
promoted industrialisation. Due to both these policies, Karachi’s population
increased through rural-urban migration which in turn increased the population of
the katchi abadis. Port and banking activities also multiplied
1968 – 1978: During this period, the Karachi Master Plan 1974-85 was prepared
but could not be implemented fully except for road networks and the bulk water
supply. The reason for non-implementation was the military takeover and political

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1978 – 1988: City institutions fell apart due to army rule and the absence of
transparency and accountability. The decade also saw the rise of the Mohajir
(refugees from India) Quami (national) Movement (MQM) and its conflict with the
establishment on the one hand and Sindhi nationalism on the other. The Karachi
Master Plan (KMP) 2000 was initiated but could not be implemented due to
instability and conflict. During this decade, “Islamisation” was also introduced
which resulted in the closing down of Karachi’s active nightlife, racecourse, bars,
billiard rooms and a number of cinemas. All this had an adverse effect on
Karachi’s cultural and intellectual life.
1988 – onwards: Since the early nineties, ethnic politics and the MQM-
establishment-conflict has dominated politics in Karachi leading to targeted
killings, strikes, street violence and police excesses. As a result, industry shifted to
other parts of Pakistan and unemployment in Karachi increased. During this period
globalization and structural adjustment had a negative impact on Karachi’s job
market and resulted in recession and inflation. Since no new housing schemes or
development projects on a large enough scale have been initiated, homelessness
has increased and so have the expansion of katchi abadis and the densification of
inner city slums.

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Why do Slums develop?

Slums are not a new phenomenon. They have been part of the history of most
cities, particularly in the early years of urbanization and industrialization as
populations boomed. Slums are generally the only type of settlement affordable
and accessible to the poor in cities, where competition for land and profits is
There are two main reasons why slums develop: population growth and

Population growth and slums:

Countries around the world are urbanizing rapidly as more people migrate from
rural areas to the cities and natural population growth continues to occur. Today,
more than half the world’s population resides in urban areas. More than 90 percent
of this urban growth is taking place in the developing world.

Urban migration happens for a number of reasons5:

• The pushing and pulling forces of migration. Some people migrate

because they are pushed out of their place of origin by factors such as
natural disasters or sustained ecological changes. Others are pulled to a
new destination by better job prospects, education, health facilities, or
freedom from restrictive social or cultural realities.


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• Low incomes from agriculture. Most people in rural areas work in the
agricultural sector, which is highly dependent on weather. Also, rural land
is limited, its fertility sometimes low or declining, land holdings are small,
farm debts are high, and many households have become landless. As a
result, overall rural incomes are low.
• Better job prospects. In comparison with rural areas, urban areas offer
dramatically increased job opportunities. In addition, because urban
cultures are often less constrained than those in villages, cities can also
offer greater prospects of upward social mobility.
• People know what cities can offer them. Most migrants make a
deliberate choice to stay or leave in rural areas. Improved transport,
communications and links with earlier migrants have all made rural
populations much more aware of the advantages and disadvantages of
urban life, especially regarding job opportunities and housing.
• Urban migration is often a survival strategy for rural households.
Sometimes, rural households split into several groups located in different
places—rural areas, small towns, and big cities—in order to diversify their
sources of income and be less vulnerable to economic downturns.

Another reason slums develop is bad governance. Governments often fail to
recognize the rights of the urban poor and incorporate them into urban planning,
thereby contributing to the growth of slums.

In addition, many countries simply cannot respond to rapid urbanization quickly

enough. People are coming to cities far faster than the planning process can
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incorporate them. Often, they find their own land and build a shack before the
government has a chance to learn of their existence.

The attitude of a government towards urbanization is also an important component.

Some governments take a hostile approach to urbanization. They believe that if
they provide urban services to the poor, it will attract urbanization and cause the
slums to grow. The problem with this view is that very few people come to the city
for water or services—they come looking for work.

In other cases, governments take more of a passive approach to urbanisation. They

either do not have the planning tools to deal with the rapid urbanisation that is
happening, or the tools in place are not sufficiently responsive to the reality on the

An important message of this report is that slums and urban poverty are not just a
manifestation of a population explosion and demographic change, or even of the
vast impersonal forces of globalization. Slums must be seen as the result of a
failure of housing policies, laws and delivery systems, as well as of national and
urban policies. The most important factor that limits progress in improving housing
and living conditions of low-income groups in informal settlements and slums is
the lack of genuine political will to address the issue in a fundamentally structured,
sustainable and large-scale manner. There is no doubt that the political will to
achieve long lasting and structured interventions constitutes the key to success,
particularly when accompanied by local ownership and leadership, and the
mobilization of the potential and capacity of all the stakeholders, particularly the
people themselves. Lessons from several countries underscore the importance and

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The fundamental role of sustained political will and commitment in improving or

reducing slums. The failure of policy is at all levels – global, national and local. At
the global level, policies that have weakened national governments without any
countervailing central control appear to be leading to an unrestrained globalization
that is accommodating greater inequality and marginalization. At the national
level, liberalization and the sectoral fragmentation of policy and analytical and
institutional frameworks have failed to support the urban-rural and cross-sectoral
Dynamics that is critical both to sustainable economic growth and the distribution
of its opportunities. At the local level, a startling lack of capacity to cope with, or
manage, the situation has left many slum citizens in a no-man’s land of illegality,
insecurity and environmental degradation. The Global Report on Human
Settlements 2001 was concerned largely with globalization and its effect on urban
settlements. Much of the economic and political environment in which
globalization has accelerated during the last two decades of the 20th century has
been instituted under the guiding hand of a major change in economic paradigm –
that is, neo-liberalism. Globally, these policies have re-established a rather similar
international regime to that which existed in the mercantilist period of the 19th
century when economic booms and busts followed each other with monotonous
regularity, when slums were at their worst in Western cities, and colonialism held
global sway. Nationally, neo-liberalism found its major expression through
structural adjustment programmers, which have tended to weaken the economic
role of cities throughout most of the developing regions and placed emphasis on
agricultural exports, thus working against the primary demographic direction
moving all of the new workers to towns and cities. These policies, as much as
anything else, have led to the rapid expansion of the informal sector hence slums
in cities, in the face of shrinking formal urban employment opportunities. A case
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can be made that the primary direction of both national and international
interventions during the last two decades of the 20th century has actually increased
urban poverty and slums, increased exclusion and inequality, and weakened urban
elites in their efforts to use cities as engines of growth. This has been partially
counterbalanced by the neo-liberal recognition of self-help as an effective strategy,
and a slow reduction in the persecution of the urban poor in their attempts to create
a better life and environment.
It is a paradox that the greatest global challenges – urbanization and the growth of
poverty, including the feminization of urban poverty – are increasingly being
managed at the local level. In those parts of the developing regions that are already
substantially urbanized, cities of all sizes are faced with demands and
responsibilities for which they are mostly ill equipped and ill resourced. Policy and
legal frameworks, regulatory authority, planning authority, human skills, revenue
base, accounting and accountability are as much in demand as raw land. Lip
service is paid to decentralization without providing the means to make it work.
The nuts and bolts of urban governance have become a central issue of
development, though generally lacking support and
Direction from higher levels of government where the resources actually lie.
Ultimately, the poor suffer most from the lack of governance and political will, as
weak urban governance meets the impact of growing inequality, corruption and
imbalances in resource allocation. The problem stems from a failure of national
and city governments to recognize that their primary reality is one of rapid
urbanization; that their primary task is to ensure that jobs, shelter and services are
provided to the new generations of urban dwellers who are their national future; or
even where the problem is recognized, to act in a concerted and systematic way to

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ensure that slum living and illegality is not the fate of the vast majority of new
urban residents.

Important characteristics of slums in Karachi:

• A slum is a cluster of houses - a slum is an area therefore, an individual
house is not considered as a slum.
• Slum areas are generally found in periphery of old inner city, which is a
marginalized area from the point of view of old settlements and these
days, which is being occupied by new migrants.
• Lack of access to public services – a slum generally lacks access to
public services such as sewerage, water supply, roads, street lamps etc.
or even if they have them, they provide poor service facilities.
• Over crowded area – a slum generally have high density of people
within the dwelling unit on the basis of space occupancy. Small houses
or huts with narrow and dark street lanes characterize slums in most of
the cases.
• Low income group – residents of the slum belongs to low income or
economically deprived group such as poor tenants. In some areas, they
can also be the people, displaced by disasters or conflict.
• Socially deprived – residents of the slum may also belong to socially
deprived group such as “lower castes”.
• Poor housing – houses in the slum area generally used low-cost building
construction materials with poor hygiene and sanitation.

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Karachi slum Problems:6

People residing in slums face many problems like improper sanitation, unhygienic
environmental conditions, social, economic, health, educational and cultural
problems and many more. The basic problems inherent in slums are Health hazards
Lack of basic amenities like safe drinking water, proper housing, drainage and
excreta disposal services, make slum population vulnerable to infections. These
further compromise the nutrition requirements of those living in slums.

It is projected that more than half of the Indian population will live in urban areas
by 2020 and nearly one third of this urban population will be slum dwellers. The
ongoing process of rapid urbanization has deleterious repercussions on health and
nutrition, especially for children. Malnutrition in young children has long-term
negative effects on physical and cognitive development. The major causes of
childhood malnutrition in slum population are inappropriate child feeding
practices, infections, improper food security and suboptimal childcare besides poor
availability and inadequate utilization of health care services. Addressing
nutritional problems of urban poor is essential for overall development of the


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Some common problems that arise in slum areas are as follows.

• Lack of sanitary conditions

• Social problems
• Child labor
• Internal and external corruption
• Unsuitable land for settlement
• Shortage of clean water and sanitation
• Lack of motivation for change
• Gender Inequality

Lack of sanitary conditions:

Poor sanitary conditions and poor quality of water lead to illnesses like diarrhoea
and other water borne diseases, affecting the life expectancy of slum dwellers.
According to a recent case study, water and sanitation diseases are responsible for
60 per cent of environmental health. Among water borne diseases, diarrhoea
disproportionately affects children under the age of five. Poor health among
children adversely affects the attendance rate at schools.

In dense, overcrowded urban conditions it is often difficult for people to find space
to build latrines. Many have to defecate in the open or share whatever limited
facilities are available which tend to offer no privacy, safety or hygiene.

Because of human waste and refuse collecting in stagnant pools spread disease and
contaminates water sources. The problem is made worse during the rainy season
when rubbish and excrement are washed into cramped living areas.

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In these conditions it is virtually impossible to remain healthy and clean. Diseases

spread rapidly among the crowded conditions and the little money that slum
dwellers earn often has to be spent on medicines to help the sick recover.

Often these settlements are unofficial and so, without any legal tenure, the people
living there are not entitled to get connections to basic facilities like water and
sanitation. These settlements are also vulnerable to demolition as governments
reclaim the illegally occupied land for other usages.

Social problems

The slum environment is the perfect breeding ground for a wide range of social
problems. High unemployment often causes men to stay around the home growing
increasingly frustrated with their pathetic situation and the worsening poverty.

Cramped conditions mean that there is nowhere to go when tensions rise, a factor
that regularly leads to domestic violence. Sometimes the situation goes to the other
extreme, where people abandon their homes, lured by the prospect of oblivion
through alcohol or drug abuse. Once people develop such problems the prospects
of finding work diminish. They fall deeper into poverty and the cycle continues.

Child labor7

Many children in the slums start work at a very early age with no prospect of
getting any education. They make money by rag picking (trawling through rubbish
dumps to retrieve anything that can be sold), selling newspapers in traffic jams,
peddling drugs or begging. They are at risk of exploitation as well as all the health

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problems that accompany their lifestyles. Incest and abuse can occur and child
marriages are still encouraged in some areas.

Internal and external corruption

Some people manage to achieve a high status within slums and establish
themselves as slumlords. They are often allies of certain politicians and gain
control of sizeable chunks of the community land. By renting out the land, they
make huge financial gains while everyone living in the slum struggles to survive
on their meager earnings. The slumlords form elaborate links with local politicians,
government officials and the police, and slum dwellers become dependent on them
for the smallest of amenities. They have little empathy with the slum residents and
exploit them by charging highly inflated prices for illegal electricity and water
supplies or for constructing huts.

The men do not like to see the women becoming more powerful through forming
women's groups as one of their main concerns is keeping the slum dwellers
helpless and under their control.

The sheer volume of people living in slums causes them to be obvious targets for
politicians wanting to increase their percentage of the vote. Slum inhabitants are
often promised all kinds of support and improvements in return for political
allegiance, but their trust is regularly abused.

Unsuitable land for settlement

Slum colonies usually settle on unwanted land and the reasons for the land being
unwanted soon become apparent. Drainage is poor and the land can easily become

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boggy and covered in mud. The monsoon season causes floods which
heighten other problems, including the spread of disease.

Shortage of clean water and sanitation

Slum dwellers face long journeys to fetch water, and to reach a communal latrine.
Water pumps are sometimes available, but regularly fail to work and people are
unwilling to take responsibility for fixing them. Latrines are also often unhygienic,
in poor condition and shared by a vast number of people (around 25 households, or
125 people), a fact which combined with distance makes people reluctant to use

Lack of motivation for change

Many of the people who live in the slums have always struggled to make a living
and to find somewhere to live and so the natural reaction to the difficult
environmental situations is acceptance. The authorities often try to avoid
acknowledging the squalid surroundings faced by the slum dwellers and ignore the
basic requirements that are so obviously present.

Gender Inequality8

Female babies in the slums of India can face discrimination and poor treatment
from their very first moments, if they are given a chance of life at all; although
gender specific abortion is illegal in India, it is still practiced in some places Male
children are seen as a blessing and indulged in many areas of Indian society.
Children born into the deprived and harsh environment of the slums may not be as
fortunate, but male babies are still given better treatment than the girls. Boys tend

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to be healthier as they are given better food in greater quantities, and they are also
more likely to be sent to school.

In contrast, girls are seen as a drain on precious resources as they will one day get
married and their contribution towards the family will end. To make up for this,
they are forced to work from an early age and any ambitions regarding schooling
or future careers are discouraged.

With that kind of start in life, it's difficult for women within the slums to find a
voice. They are used to getting little support from their embers and are not usually
considered worth consulting on family matters

A Policy Framework for a Slum Upgrading Programme

1. Accept and acknowledge slums and their importance.

Achieving a city without slums begins with a shared understanding that slums and
their residents are an integral part of the city, and that slum residents have a right to
the city and to its services.

2. Political will and leadership makes slum upgrading possible.

Both national and local governments must provide the vision, commitment, and
leadership required to sustain nationwide upgrading. Government authorities at all
levels and other stake-holders make and uphold the commitment to upgrade slums
because is in the best interest of the city and nation.

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3. Include the slums in the city’s plans.

Create a strategy and planhow to transform slums as part of the core business of
managing and improving the city and its economy. An effective tool to define
these plans is to carry out a City Development Strategy (CDS) to identify city
priorities, lead to producing a workable plan for the upgrading programme

4. Mobilise partners.
Partnership is important tosuccessful upgrading. Successful slum upgrading is a
highly participatory endeavour. It is also very comprehensive and complex,
needing coordinated inputs from many local government agencies as well as those
from outside the public sector.

5. Provide security of tenure.

Secure tenure is at the very centre of slum upgrading. Without some form of legal
tenure security the situation of slum residents and their neighbourhoods is
uncertain: they could be removed at any time. People who fear eviction will not
invest in their houses. They will invest, however, once they have a sense of
permanence and realise that they can sell their house and recoup their investment.
Furthermore illegality and informality make them susceptible to exploitation,
corruption and extortion.

6. Plan with, not for, the slum communities.

Residents are the main partners of slum upgrading programmes. Because their
futures are directly affected by the decisions, and because they can help in the
upgrading process, it is necessary that they be fully informed and actively
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7. Ensure continuity of effort over time and institutionalize the programme.

Upgrading is an incremental, but sustained process. When slum upgrading is
municipal a core operation, it produces cohesion, coordination, and increases
efficiencies in service provision.

8. Allocate budget, design subsidies, mobilize public and non-public

Stable and consistent national and local budgetary allocations are needed for slum
upgrading. Large-scale upgrading programmes need central government support
backed by corresponding national budgetary allocations, subsidy policies and
human resources.

9. Find alternatives to new slum formation.

Upgrading existing slums and preventing new slums are twin objectives of Cities
without Slums policy. Until land and housing policies are changed to eliminate
barriers for the poor, new slums will continue to occur. Therefore, cities need to
introduce proactive measures for producing viable alternatives to slums.

10. Invest in community infrastructure.

It is important to invest in a community infrastructure that helps build community
cohesion. Investing in infrastructure demonstrates a government’s commitment to
an area and brings dignity back to a neighbourhood. If a government invests
poorly, people will not respect the infrastructure.

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Poverty eredacition through Gramean micro finance banking system9:

The Grameen Bank is based on the voluntary formation of small groups of five
people to provide mutual, morally binding group guarantees in lieu of the collateral
required by conventional banks. At first only two members of a group are allowed
to apply for a loan. Depending on their performance in repayment the next two
borrowers can then apply and, subsequently, the fifth member as well.

The assumption is that if individual borrowers are given access to credit, they will
be able to identify and engage in viable income-generating activities - simple
processing such as paddy husking, lime-making, manufacturing such as pottery,
weaving, and garment sewing, storage and marketing and transport services.
Women were initially given equal access to the schemes, and proved not only
reliable borrowers but astute entrepreneurs. As a result, they have raised their
status, lessened their dependency on their husbands and improved their homes and
the nutritional standards of their children. Today over 90 percent of borrowers are

Intensive discipline, supervision, and servicing characterize the operations of the

Grameen Bank, which are carried out by "Bicycle bankers" in branch units with
considerable delegated authority. The rigorous selection of borrowers and their
projects by these bank workers, the powerful peer pressure exerted on these
individuals by the groups, and the repayment scheme based on 50 weekly

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installments, contribute to operational viability to the rural banking system

designed for the poor. Savings have also been encouraged. Under the scheme, there
is provision for 5 percent of loans to be credited to a group find and Tk 5 is
credited every week to the fund.

The success of this approach shows that a number of objections to lending to the
poor can be overcome if careful supervision and management are provided. For
example, it had earlier been thought that the poor would not be able to find
remunerative occupations. In fact, Grameen borrowers have successfully done so.
It was thought that the poor would not be able to repay; in fact, repayment rates
reached 97 percent. It was thought that poor rural women in particular were not
bankable; in fact, they accounted for 94 percent of borrowers in early 1992. It was
also thought that the poor cannot save; in fact, group savings have proven as
successful as group lending. It was thought that rural power structures would make
sure that such a bank failed; but the Grameen Bank has been able to expand
rapidly. Indeed, from fewer than 15,000 borrowers in 1980, the membership had
grown to nearly 100,000 by mid-1984. By the end of 1998, the number of branches
in operation was 1128, with 2.34 million members (2.24 million of them women)
in 38,957 villages. There are 66,581 centers of groups, of which 33,126 are
women. Group savings have reached 7,853 million taka (approximately USD 162
million), out of which 7300 million taka (approximately USD 152 million) are
saved by women.

It is estimated that the average household income of Grameen Bank members is

about 50 percent higher than the target group in the control village, and 25 percent
higher than the target group non-members in Grameen Bank villages. The landless
have benefited most, followed by marginal landowners. This has resulted in a
sharp reduction in the number of Grameen Bank members living below the poverty

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line, 20 percent compared to 56 percent for comparable non-Grameen Bank

members. There has also been a shift from agricultural wage labour (considered to
be socially inferior) to self-employment in petty trading. Such a shift in
occupational patterns has an indirect positive effect on the employment and wages
of other agricultural waged labourers. What started as an innovative local initiative,
"a small bubble of hope", has thus grown to the point where it has made an impact
on poverty alleviation at the national level ".

Method of Action

The Grameen Bank's Method of action can be illustrated by the following

principles: 10

1. Start with the problem rather than the solution: a credit system must be
based on a survey of the social background rather than on a pre-established
banking technique.
2. Adopt a progressive attitude: development is a long-term process which

depends on the aspirations and commitment of the economic operators.

3. Make sure that the credit system serves the poor, and not vice-versa: credit
officers visit the villages, enabling them to get to know the borrowers.
4. Establish priorities for action vis-a-vis to the target population: serve the
most poverty-stricken people needing investment resources, who have no
access to credit.
5. At the beginning, restrict credit to income-generating production operations,
freely selected by the borrower. Make it possible for the borrower to be able
to repay the loan.


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6. Lean on solidarity groups: small informal groups consisting of co-opted

members coming from the same background and trusting each other.
7. Associate savings with credit without it being necessarily a prerequisite.
8. Combine close monitoring of borrowers with procedures which are simple
and standardized as possible.
9. Do everything possible to ensure the system's financial balance.
10. Invest in human resources: training leaders will provide them with real

development ethics based on rigout, creativity, understanding and respect for

the rural environment.

10 Indicators of Grameen micro finance banking system.

Every year Grameen Bank staff evaluates their work and check whether the socio-
economic situation of GB members is improving. GB evaluates poverty level of
the borrowers using ten indicators.

A member is considered to have moved out of poverty if her family fulfills the
following criteria:

1. The family lives in a house worth at least Tk. 25,000 (twenty five thousand) or a
house with a tin roof, and each member of the family is able to sleep on bed
instead of on the floor.

2. Family members drink pure water of tube-wells, boiled water or water purified
by using alum, arsenic-free, purifying tablets or pitcher filters.

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3. All children in the family over six years of age are all going to school or
finished primary school.

4. Minimum weekly loan installment of the borrower is Tk. 200 or more.

5. Family uses sanitary latrine.

6. Family members have adequate clothing for every day use, warm clothing for
winter, such as shawls, sweaters, blankets, etc, and mosquito-nets to protect
themselves from mosquitoes.

7. Family has sources of additional income, such as vegetable garden, fruit-bearing

trees, etc, so that they are able to fall back on these sources of income when they
need additional money.

8. The borrower maintains an average annual balance of Tk. 5,000 in her savings

9. Family experiences no difficulty in having three square meals a day throughout

the year, i. e. no member of the family goes hungry any time of the year.

10. Family can take care of the health. If any member of the family falls ill, family
can afford to take all necessary steps to seek adequate healthcare.

Research on Sri Lankan system:11

The Sri Lankan government aims to raise the socio-economic status of the rural
poor by integrating sound economic management with plans to improve the social
indicators of the poor. However, it also needs to resolve ethno-national tensions on

APEID (1994). Sri Lanka country paper.

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a fast-track basis, so as to provide sustainable support and direct funds towards

productive spending.

Sri Lanka, with a population of about twenty million, is a poor South Asian
country where social indicators like high literacy rates and democratic governance
coincide with a relatively high incidence of poverty and ethno-nationalist unrest.
According to a Country Assistance Plan made by the Asian Development Bank,
about a third of the population lives below the poverty line and almost 85 percent
of these reside in the country’s rural areas mainly in the Central and Southern
provinces and in the rural North-East, which is wracked by the decades old Tamil-
Sinhalese conflict. Thus, the overall efforts aimed at poverty reduction in Sri
Lanka can’t be divorced from the government’s attempts at facilitating rural
development and bringing about peace. The government’s Framework for Poverty
Reduction plans to reduce poverty through a combination of steps incorporating
economic and social initiatives. In addition, the government is actively pursuing a
peace process with Tamils to bring stability and relief to the general populace as
well as to the North-Eastern poor who are susceptible to recruitment by the rebels.

First, the Sri Lankan government hopes to reduce the incidence of dire poverty
through a three-pronged strategy of promoting economic and social opportunities
for the poor by broad-basing the benefits of growth, shielding marginalized and
non-competitive groups which can’t participate in mainstream economic activities
and by incorporating people into the processes of governance and ensuring their
fundamental rights. Through its aim to identify new and broader roles for local
governments and civil society in poverty reduction, the government is holding out
an especially attractive promise to the rural poor who stand to gain greater

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autonomy in devising and practicing ways of combating widespread poverty. To

this effect, the government’s Samurdhi (Prosperity) Program, functional since
1994, shores up local authorities by providing social support to very poor
households. Also, the Framework acknowledges that a stable, overarching
macroeconomic situation would contribute greatly to endeavors against poverty.
Thus, a plan aimed at privatizing state-owned units and ensuring fiscal stability is
working as a part of the overall Framework. Other social initiatives directed at
improving the lot of the rural poor include establishing a Child Protection
Authority (1997) to protect against exploitation and to impart education to all.

However, economic initiatives alone cannot work in a country like Sri Lanka
where civil strife poses a serious threat particularly to the rural poor. The conflict
has caused much damage to physical and social infrastructure facilities. In
addition, it has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from
their homes and source of livelihood. The only way the government can follow
sustainable development policies here is by giving priority to establishing peace
through political methods, so as not to further tax the already distressed population.
This not only increases welfare access to the poor but it also frees up funds to the
tune of 5 percent of the GDP, which are currently being used to finance the
conflict. Hence, there is reason to invest hope in a fragile cease fire which has held
since February 2002.

In recent years, Sri Lanka's capital city Colombo has demonstrated a strong interest
and commitment to performance improvement and change. It has focused on
making the city administration truly responsive to public needs and aspirations,
facilitating the participation of a wide range of stakeholder groups in planning and

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decision-making. The city has also involved the private sector in the management
and provision of urban services. The City of Colombo is, therefore, in an
influential position, as an able and willing partner, to guide and assist other smaller
cities to promote an integrated cross-sector approach to sustainable urban
development. The aim of the project was to facilitate urban poverty reduction in
Colombo by developing a participatory and sustainable institutional framework
within the municipality that is closely working with the urban poor.

Project implementation was coordinated through Sevanatha, an urban-based NGO,

partnering with the Municipal Council. The first task was the preparation of a
poverty profile for the city, targeting the hundreds of slums, and through
participatory research to define their priority needs. In the spirit of strengthening
decentralization, the District Offices then partnered with their urban poor
communities to prepare Community Action Plans defining Council as well as
community investments, supported by community mobilization techniques.
Prioritized investments were then constructed through innovative community
contracting methods, further enabling the urban poor as partners in their own

By the end of June 2004, the Poverty Profile summarizing the situation in 1,614
unplanned squatter settlements had been completed. Pro-poor strategies based on
participatory Community Action Planning approaches and Community Contracting
had been tested through community-based infrastructure and service demonstration
projects, and formally adopted by the Council for follow-up replication. 20 urban
poor communities had benefited from improved urban services in partnership with
the District Offices, including utilization of project grant funds integrated with the

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Council Member's decentralized budget. A Good Practice Catalogue and

supporting Toolkit is being finalized to support city-wide and national application
of the lessons learned.

Thus, economic development in Sri Lanka hinges on multiple factors that cover
economic, social, educational and political areas.

Communal behavior:

Our attitude as a nation towards slums should be very serious and we should take
responsibility as individuals for that. In the developing countries, national attitude
towards slums isn’t very serious. However the developed world takes these issues
very keenly and seriously because they give much importance to the quality of life
as compared to developing countries.

That’s why slums are mainly situated in the developing countries.

But because of the gravity of the slums problems, the slums eradication measures
are also being taken in these countries.

There is in fact an underlying economic logic which makes the elimination of

slums in urban areas a rather difficult proposition. Economists believe that the
main factor responsible for the creation of urban slum dwellings is the urban-
rural divide.12The industrial wages and urban standard of living on the average is


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considered to be much better than those in rural areas. As a result there is an

incentive for some rural workers to migrate to the urban areas looking for higher
wages. There is hence a natural exodus from rural parts to urban centers. And this
is where the problems begin.

A rural laborer would migrate to urban areas in search of dream jobs having heard
of others who have migrated before him. Given that there would a number of such
like-minded souls; jobs in the formal sector are hard to come by. He weighs his
options and decides that it might be worthwhile to still wait for a job in the formal
Sector and in the meanwhile work in the informal sector (selling food for instance
in makeshift shops or carts on the roadside). Getting work as domestic help in
India becomes an easy option for some of them. These rural migrants must find a
temporary dwelling as well and thus urban slums come to thrive in India.

Urban slums become a social challenge. There is pressure on the government

to improve infrastructure and remove these slums from the middle of cities
like Delhi or Mumbai. So what could they possibly do?
One option is that they improve the infrastructure in the urban areas, create more
jobs to absorb this labor force in urban areas etc. These well-intentioned policies
however in the absence of some supporting policies serve to only enhance the
problem. By improving the urban infrastructure and creating more urban jobs, the
government would be increasing the incentive for more rural to urban migration.
The urban attractiveness tends to increase and people who may earlier have been
on the fence and undecided now start to migrate. Additionally given the spate of
suicides in the rural areas many a landless laborer would get attracted by the
promise of an urban job.

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Consequently we see that if the urban absorption rate increases, migration into
urban areas would also increase and therefore urban slums would not only
continue to survive but also grow rather rapidly. This is what leads to urban decay
as predicted by Jay Forrester in his Urban Dynamics of the seventies. In fact the
decay tends to accelerate if the urban attractiveness is gradually increased. The
only way out then seems to be to stem the flow of migrants from rural areas into
the urban ones. And to do this we must increase the incentive for people to remain
within the rural areas. Policies with a rural focus then are in order.

But that’s what the economist orders. I personally think that it’s more than just the
difference in wages and standard of living. It’s also to do with the psyche of
people. We have created this glamorous image of urban living as against rural
living. There have been countless movies and books telling the tale of a rural youth
dreaming of making it big in life and the key to that dream being in his movement
to the urban areas. True, opportunities in the rural areas for development have been
rather limited, but then with inclusive growth having figured high on the
government agenda since time immemorial it its only to be hoped that not only will
we be able to create a better standard of living in the rural areas but also improve
the image we associate with the word “rural”.

Therefore, the real panacea to prevent urban decay and avoid creation of slums is
to carry out rural improvement plans. The need is to usher in a second green
revolution, improve rural infrastructure, bring in electricity to the as yet unreached
areas, and make education available to the rural folk as well as other civil
amenities like drinking water and proper sanitation. If the attractiveness of the rural

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villages improves there might very well be a reverse migration of the urban have-
nots to the rural areas to become the rural-haves.

On another note, I wonder if it’s possible to ever be totally rid of an “urban slum”.
It’s akin to saying we would want to be rid of poverty. Unfortunately, there will
always be relative poverty no matter what the standard of living of the poorest in
the nation. Maybe then, it’s impossible to rid the urban areas of “slums” so to
speak, and all that can probably be done then is to give them a face-lift.

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• en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slum

• books.google.com.pk/books?isbn

• www.unhabitat.org/slums.

• www.citymayors.com/features/largest_cities.html

• southasia.oneworld.net/.../slum-problems/?

• Global Report on Human Settlements 2003

• http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?

• Socio culture implication of slums in the city: Ramzan Chandio |

Published: February 06, 2010

• http://www.scribd.com/doc/15083150/Slums-of-Karachi-Business-

• Case of Karachi, Pakistan by Arif Hasan Masooma Mohib.

• CBSL (2005), “The Consumer Finances and Socio-Economic Survey Report

2003/04”, Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), July 2005.

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• APEID (1994). Sri Lanka country paper. In Proceedings of the Fourth

APEID Regional Seminar on Special Education. Asia and Pacific
Programme on Educational Innovation for Development, Yokosuka, Japan.

• www.grameen-info.org/index.php?option=com

• Eradication of urban slums in India: A pipe dream.

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