Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?

There is a growing wave of urbanization in the developing world as the cities are drawing people away from subsistence farming to jobs in the industrial and service sectors. This rapid migration of people from rural to urban areas is causing massive increases in urban populations, creating more and larger urban slums, increasing the potential for environmental deterioration, and bringing tremendous pressures on city services already strained beyond limits. Take sanitation, for example, and it is no surprise that three major South Asian cities, Dhaka, Mumbai and New Delhi, show up on Mercer's list of the world's dirtiest cities.
United Nations Habitat estimates that roughly 1 billion people -- or 33 percent of the world's urban population lives in slums. By 2030, according to the UN's human settlement program, that number is likely to double.

The slum dwellers struggle to survive with little clean water and sometimes no electricity around metropolises like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mumbai, India; Lima, Peru; and Istanbul, Turkey. Their shantytowns are usually vast in expanse and dense in population. In Kibera, a slum near Nairobi, Kenya, for example, more than a million people live in an area about the size of New York's Central Park.

When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, little kids working or begging, absence of sanitation, filthy water and air. However, there are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.

In a recent interview published by Wired Magazine, Stewart Brand, "the pioneering environmentalist, technology thinker", and founder of the Whole Earth Catalog focuses on the positive aspects of urban slums. Brand also makes a counterintuitive case that the booming slums and squatter cities in and around Mumbai, Nairobi, and Rio de Janeiro are net positives for poor people and the environment. Wired asked him to elaborate.

Wired: What makes squatter cities so important?

Stewart Brand: That's where vast numbers of humans—slum dwellers—are doing urban stuff in new and amazing ways. And hell's bells, there are a billion of them! People are trying desperately to get out of poverty, so there's a lot of creativity; they collaborate in ways that we've completely forgotten how to do in regular cities. And there's a transition: People come in from the countryside, enter the rickshaw economy, and work for almost nothing. But after a while, they move uptown, into the formal economy. The United Nations did extensive field research and flipped from seeing squatter cities as the world's great problem to realizing these slums are actually the world's great solution to poverty.

Wired: Why are they good for the environment?
Brand: Cities draw people away from subsistence farming, which is ecologically devastating, and they defuse the population bomb. In the villages, women spend their time doing agricultural stuff, for no pay, or having lots and lots of kids. When women move to town, it's better to have fewer kids, bear down, and get them some education, some economic opportunity. Women become important, powerful creatures in the slums. They're often the ones running the community-based organizations, and they're considered the most reliable recipients of microfinance loans.

Wired: How can governments help nurture these positives?
Brand: The suffering is great, and crime is rampant. We made the mistake of romanticizing villages, and we don't need to make that mistake again. But the main thing is not to bulldoze the slums. Treat the people as pioneers. Get them some grid electricity, water, sanitation, crime prevention. All that makes a huge difference.

The effect of urbanization in defusing the "population bomb" mentioned by Stewart Brand does make sense in Pakistan's context. With increasing urbanization, Pakistan's population growth rate has declined from 2.17% in 2000 to 1.9% in 2008. Based on PAI Research Commentary by Karen Hardee and Elizabeth Leahy, the total fertility rate (TFR) in Pakistan is still the highest in South Asia at 4.1 children per woman. Women in urban areas have an average of 3.3 children compared to their rural counterparts, who have an average of 4.5 children. The overall fertility rate has been cut in half from about 8 children per woman in 1960s to about less than 4 this decade, according to a study published in 2009.

Dramatic declines in fertility are not necessarily good for society. In a book titled "The Empty Cradle", the author Philip Longman warns that the declining birth rates around the world will cause many social and economic problems. As a consequence of declining fertility, by 2050 the population of Europe will have fallen to what it was in 1950. Mr. Longman says this is happening all around the world: Women are having fewer children. It's happening in Brazil, it's happening in China, India and Japan. It's even happening in the Middle East. Wherever there is rapid urbanization, education for women and visions of urban affluence, birthrates are falling. Having and raising children is seen as an expense and a burden.

"So we have a "free rider" problem. You don't need to have children to provide for your old age -- but the pension systems need them." Says Longman, referring to the coming Social Security crunch as the number of retired people rises faster than the number of workers.

In a recent interview with Wall Street Journal, Pakistan's former finance minister Salman Shah explained that "Pakistan has to be part of globalization or you end up with Talibanization". "Until we put these young people into industrialization and services, and off-farm work, they will drift into this negative extremism; there is nothing worse than not having a job," Shah elaborated. But increasing urbanization in South Asia represents both a challenge and an opportunity for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a challenge because it imposes a rapidly growing burden on the already overcrowded megacities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka and Karachi. Such a massive challenge will require a tremendous focus on providing housing, transportation, schooling, healthcare, water, power, sanitation and other services at an accelerated pace. But if this challenge can be successfully met, there will be an opportunity to develop the human potential of the rural poor and employ them more productively in the growing industrial and services sectors in the cities. In the case of Pakistan, if the level of robust economic growth, human development and increased urbanization can be sustained to significantly enlarge the South Asian nation's middle class, then there can be hope for genuine and durable democracy to thrive.

Related Links:

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness
Total Fertility Rates for Countries of the World

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia
Orangi Pilot Project

Orangi Beats Dharavi
Can Slumdog's Success Improve Lives of Poor Children?
Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan
UN Population Fund Report 2007

Urbanization Levels of Countries of the World
Eleven Days in Karachi

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Slums Offer Hope
Urbanization Challenges in Pakistan

World's Dirtiest Cities

Karachi Fourth Cheapest for Expats

Cities and Environment

Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization

Patterns of Urbanization in Pakistan


Anonymous said...

Government giving assistance is generally looted by the corrupt governance.

People have to raise themself by forming small community / society :

1. Education
2. Family after job
3. Small family.

In fact in india, the educated and people in good economic position have lesser children and the people below povery level have more children due to the following :

1. Source of income
2. No higher aspiration and entertainment leaving sex as the only entertainment
3. Early marriage and children even before getting jobs.

Population of india has gone by thrice in the last 100 years and that has great major economic and social problem

Somewhere following of the policy of china of small family will help country to recover

Shams said...

Life is a ravine of sh-- except for those who find the right treadstone.

My brother has a what I would call a really nice home in Defense. He has six servants.. He has to do this to keep up with all the other homeowners around him who do the same.

Each servant gets around Rs. 10,000 per month, not enough to live in luxury by any means. So for each one good home, there are six slum-dwellers at least.

Riaz Haq said...

These are service sector jobs. And these jobs pay more than the alternatives your brother's servants have on the farms.
But don't count on these guys doing what they are doing now for long. As soon as these guys land industrial jobs in formal economy, they'll leave. So there is more mobility in cities than in villages. And their children have a better chance of attending schools or getting health care in Karachi than in their villages.

Suhail said...


What you're saying is what should be happening, but unfortunately it is not so because industrial jobs and formal economy is on the decline. The rural poor come to the cities and mostly get employed in the informal sector, similar to domestic help as Shams's brother's case. Shams can confirm better but most likely his brother would be having a lesser no. of servants in the past than now, because industry was performing better before.

Riaz Haq said...

Unfortunately, I have to agree with you that there are problems at least in the short term with stalled economic growth in Pakistan. But I am hopeful it's going to change for the better. The long term trend is that urbanization will continue in Pakistan and it will change the balance of political power in favor of the urban middle class in the next two decades. All the forecasts for Pakistan indicate that urban population will equal or exceed rural population by 2030. I remain optimistic in the long run.

Shams said...

Suhail, Riaz,

In 2030, Pakistan will have a population of 640 million, compunding at nearly four percent annually. That ought to make the whole country one big f----- village full of nothing but slum. Unless of course nature takes its course, and wars, hunger, natural events or disease balances the land-to-people ratio.

Re. Suhail's point that my brother probably had fewer servants sometime ago, I and my family grew up in what I still consider a slum house. My brother had no servants as late as 1995, and he lived in a 2 bedroom rented apartment.

The trend in Pakistan is very different now. Slums are growing at a tremendously fast pace, making the entire city of Karachi one big slimy slum and a village. It will be a misnomer to call it an urban area.

Riaz Haq said...


Pakistan's population growth rate in 1.8%, not 4%, and it is trending down with urbanization. It was 2.17% in 2000.
As to the growth of slums in Pakistan, I am not sure what your definition of a slum is. To me, Dharavi in India or Kiberia in Kenya are slums. Lyari in Karachi is a slum.

But Orangi Town is not a slum in terms of the quality of its housing or the services available to its residents. It started life as a 'kutchi abadi' or squatter settlement for the large influx of refugees in Karachi from East Pakistan (often mistakenly called Biharis) after the fall of Dhaka in early 1970s. It consists of an area larger than 25 square miles (versus 0.67 sq miles in Dharavi) with a population of over a million (versus over 700,000 residents of Dharavi). Most of Orangi's population increase in the last three decades has come from the growing rural to urban migration, particularly of ethnic Pushtoons from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Shanties have now grown into single or two level cement houses over the years and a large number of schools have been operating successfully, sending the poorest children into the best educational institutions of the city. A significant population of educated middle class has grown in Orangi. There are a number of small businesses and a cottage industry, started by budding entrepreneurs and funded by microfinance efforts in the area. The city of Karachi has built roads into Orangi to provide improved access for the residents. Like any other growing and poor urban neighborhood, Orangi has its share of problems. Pollution, crime, corruption and political volatility are just some of the issues confronting Orangi residents. A hospital was built in the community in the 1990s community in the 1990s. While Dharavi has only one toilet per 1440 residents and most of its residents use Mahim Creek, a local river, for urination and defecation, Orangi has an elaborate sanitation system built by its citizens. Under Orangi Pilot Project's guidance, between 1981 and 1993 Orangi residents installed sewers serving 72,070 of 94,122 houses. To achieve this, community members spent more than US$2 million of their own money, and OPP invested about US$150,000 in research and extension of new technologies. Orangi pilot project has been admired widely for its work with urban poor.

Anonymous said...

in 84 position India grow at
1.55% and 63 position at 1.95%

Suhail said...


Although urbanization is increasing, the parliamentary constituencies remain unaltered under our constitution. So even if urban population increases to 51%, their representation in our parliament will remain the same as now. On its own things will not change; the change has to be forced upon our present ruling elite to accept a new balance of political power favoring the urban classes. In fact this should have happened even now as the urban population being the sole tax contributors, are already funding the entire govt expenses so should have control over it too. For this transformation to happen, it is necessary that our urban middle classes are aware, organized and willing to aid the change whenever the conditions are ripe for it. Unfortunately, this aspect is missing and that is one main hurdle to our not being able to achieve this transformation.

As regards Orangi, it started out as a slum but self help organized by OPP has resulted in its becoming pretty developed by third world standards. What I've seen of Dharavi in Slumdog, Orangi should not be compared with it. But then Dharavi will probably not be as bad as shown in Slumdog, where the intent was to highlight its ugliness.

Regarding the future, I'm an optimist too; reason being that despite the suicidal tendencies of many of our socially important classes and incompetence of most of our rulers, we're still there. So we should not lose hope of betterment in the long run.

Shams said...


You must have a pretty skewed definition of a slum. In New York city, most of Brooklyn and Bronx are considered slums, and in California, East Okaland and East Palo Alto are considered slums as well. But we all know that each of those locations are about ten times cleaner and urbanized as Saddar in Karachi, let alone Orangi.

In 2030, Pakistan will have 1.8 persons per square meter, or 1.8 million per of livable land. That is a f---- slum of a country.

See below.

As for your and CIA's estimates of Pakistan's population growth rate, I think you are both wrong. CIA says it is about 2.5 %, and there are some sources that say it is 1.999%. The fact is that in 1998 census, Pakistan showed a population of 130.5 million ( However, in 2008, it is estimated at 177 million ( That comes to 3.2% annual, compounded.

That still comes out to 360 million people by year 2030. Pakistan has a total land area of 770,000 sq. km, and only 200,000 of it is usable. Therefore, in 2030, there will be 1.8 million people per sq. km., or 1.8 persons per sq. meter.

Your calculations and projections are still way off and not usable at all.

Riaz Haq said...


I think your definition of a slum essentially categorizes almost all of the cities in developing nations as well large parts of the developed world as just slums...and it just doesn't make any sense.

My source for Pakistan's 1.8% pop growth rate and trend is

Your assumption of 177 m population in 2008 is not supported by any estimates that I have seen.

As to the population density of Pakistan, it is currently at 510 per sq km, ranking it at 53rd in pop density among 238 countries and territories. Even if it doubles as you incorrectly argue, it will still be fairly low compared to dozens of other countries. See this list here:

Now compare Pakistan's 510 with India's 890 , Japan's 870 and UK's 640 per sq km. Do you think the population density of Japan and UK qualifies them as slums? As to your arguments about what us usable land and what is not, each of the countries I mentioned have the exact same issues.

Shams said...


Your calculations are wrong and your sources are even wronger, but it is your logical reasoning that is the wrongest.

Pakistan is no Japan or UK, since paindus are missing from those two countries.

Pakistan's estimate of 177 million population is in CIA world factbook. I gave the source in my email, which is

As an engineer, you should be able to do compound projections yourself - if it is 130.5 in 1998 and 177 in 2008. If you can't, try this

Give it up.

Riaz Haq said...


You are right: Pakistan is no Japan or UK, since paindus are missing from those two countries.

Do you think there were never paindus in these countries? Where did all these people in Japan or UK come from? Weren't they all agrarian villagers prior to the industrial revolution and urbanization in these two nations? Isn't that how almost all of the so-called industrialized wold came into existence through a process of rural to urban migration, slum-dwelling and finally real cities? Pakistan is going through that process now at an accelerated rate.

As to your persistent reference to 177 million pop estimate by CIA in 2008, please look more carefully. The website says it's an estimate for June, 2009, not 2008. Even if you buy it, which I don't, the CAGR over 11 years (1998-2009) comes to 2.8%.

The fact is that the total fertility rate has come down from about 8 chilren per woman in 1960s to less than 4 this decade.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Seekingalpha report commenting on McKinsey study of Indian urbanization:

... new labor force will also be relatively young compared to other BRIC countries. The median age for the Indian population is 25.3 years—lower than Brazil (28.6 years) and well below China (34.1 years) and Russia (38.4).

In order to meet the needs of this urban class, MGI estimates India will need:

* $1.2 trillion in capital investment
* 2.5 billion square meters of roads to be paved
* 700-900 million square meters of commercial and residential space
* 7,400 kilometers of subways and transportation to be constructed

To put these figures into perspective, the investment amount needed is about one-third of India’s total GDP in 2009. And if 700-900 million square meters of real estate sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. India would need to build a city the size of Chicago every year for the next 20 years in order to create enough commercial/residential space.

While these numbers are staggering, perhaps the most important figure for commodity demand is MGI’s projections on the growth of India’s middle class. MGI estimates that India will have 91 million middle class households by 2030, that’s more than a 300 percent increase from the 22 million they have today.

As we’ve said many times before, the growth of the middle class in the developing world, especially in Asia, is a key driver of demand for oil, steel, copper, cement and countless other resources because the wealthier these people are, the more they will consume.

This mass of people will likely demand better housing, better roads, better goods— in all, a higher quality of life than what’s been available to them in the past. The resulting pressure this could have on commodity demand is the X-factor that we believe makes this cycle different than anything we’ve experienced in the past.

I agree there will be massive migration in India;but, not driven like China. It will be driven by rural failure. There are few jobs in urban India already, where will so many more jobs come from in future, if India doesn't fundamentally change its policies....

Most population growth in India is coming in the backward and poor northern states. Will these youth be able to fill the jobs that do open up in urban India?

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Times Online report about slum population swelling in India:

The number of people living in slums in India has more than doubled in the past two decades and now exceeds the entire population of Britain, the Indian Government has announced.

India’s slum-dwelling population had risen from 27.9 million in 1981 to 61.8 million in 2001, when the last census was done, Kumari Selja, the Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said.

The figure is the latest illustration of how India’s recent economic boom has left behind millions of the country’s poorest people, raising fears that social unrest could undermine further growth.

India’s economy has grown by an average of 8 per cent annually over the past four years, and yet a quarter of its population of 1.1 billion still lives on less than $1 (50p) a day.

The expansion of India’s slums is partly due to the rise in India’s total population, which increased from 683 million in 1981 to 1.03 billion in 2001.

That has been exacerbated by mass migration from the countryside as millions of farmers have forsaken the diminishing returns of small-scale agriculture to seek the relatively high wages of manual labourers in India’s cities.

But the ballooning slum population is also evidence of the Government’s failure to build enough housing and other basic infrastructure for its urban poor, many of whom live without electricity, gas or running water.

India’s largest slum population is in Bombay, the country’s financial and film capital, where an estimated 6.5 million people – at least half the city’s residents – live in tiny makeshift shacks surrounded by open sewers. Bombay is also home to Dharavi, Asia’s biggest single slum, which is estimated to house more than a million people.

Delhi, the national capital, has the country’s second-largest slum population, totalling about 1.8 million people, followed by Calcutta with about 1.5 million.

Mrs Selja says that it will cost India four trillion rupees (£49 billion) to build the estimated 24 million housing units needed to accommodate India’s slum-dwellers. She has called for the Government and the private sector to address the problem jointly and has launched several schemes to provide basic public services to slum-dwellers. But civil rights activists accuse the Government of willfully neglecting India’s slums, while favouring commercial property developers who often bribe local officials and fund politicians’ election campaigns.

“The rise in slums is due to the lack of affordable housing provided by the Government,” said Maju Varghese, of YUVA Urban, a nongovernmental organisation that has been working with the urban poor for more than 20 years. “The Government has withdrawn from the whole area of housing and land prices have gone to such heights that people can’t afford proper housing,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

While Pakistan's HDI of 0.504 (2011) ranks it among UNDP's low human development countries, its largest city Karachi's HDI of 0.7885 (2005) is closer to the group of nations given high human development rankings.

In a regional human development analysis for Pakistan done by Haroon Jamal and Amir Jahan Khan of the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), Karachi ranks at the top with HDI of 0.7885, followed by Jhelum district's 0.7698 and Haripur's 0.7339. Lahore has HDI score of 0.6882 and Rawalpindi 0.638.

Karachi often makes news for its recurring episodes of violence which claim many innocent lives. Yet, the city continues to be a big draw for large numbers of rural migrants looking for better economic opportunities. In spite of the many problems they face, it's a fact that even the slums in Karachi offer them better access to education and health care--basic ingredients for human development.

When visitors see a squatter city in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh, they observe overwhelming desperation: rickety shelters, little kids working or begging, absence of sanitation, filthy water and air. However, there are many benefits of rural to urban migration for migrants' lives, including reduction in abject poverty, empowerment of women, increased access to healthcare and education and other services. Historically, cities have been driving forces in economic and social development. As centers of industry and commerce, cities have long been centers of wealth and power. They also account for a disproportionate share of national income. The World Bank estimates that in the developing world, as much as 80 percent of future economic growth will occur in towns and cities. Nor are the benefits of urbanization solely economic. Urbanization is associated with higher incomes, improved health, higher literacy, and improved quality of life. Other benefits of urban life are less tangible but no less real: access to information, diversity, creativity, and innovation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Washington Post report on faltering family planning effort in Pakistan:

The government says it is committed to slowing population growth, which it referred to in a report last year as a “major impediment to [Pakistan’s] socioeconomic development process.” But public health experts say they have seen little beyond lip service.

In rural areas, access to family planning services is limited and hampered by deteriorating security, while government health workers are overburdened. International donors want bang for bucks, and working in the countryside is more expensive, said Mohsina Bilgrami of the Marie Stopes Society in Pakistan, another nongovernmental organization.

Greenstar is the country’s largest contraceptive provider, but “we’re a drop in the bucket in a country of 180 million,” said Shirine Mohagheghpour, the technical adviser for Greenstar, an affiliate of the Washington-based Population Services International. “You have to do this community by community.”

Shahid keeps her message basic. In one colorful illustration she shows on home visits, grimy children wail in a tattered house. In another, a mother shakes a rattle at a baby, a father frolics with a toddler and a child reads a book in a tidy dwelling. Intrauterine devices can help make the second picture a reality, she says.

“You can live tension-free,” she said to a room full of women in Mirwah. “Your husband will be happy. Your mother-in-law will be happy. You can pay attention to the children you already have. If you continue having children year after year, you will get sick.”

In urban, middle-class areas, the message is slowly resonating. Two hours away, in the city of Mirpurkhas, a similar discussion with women and a few mothers-in-law sparked boisterous discussion. Several said children were simply too expensive.

“If it’s a sin, there shouldn’t be doctors who offer it,” one said of contraception, eliciting nods.

At a private clinic in Mirwah, a woman named Buri, 35, said firmly that a small family is best. But it was too late: Married at age 13, she was pregnant 12 times before she opted for tubal ligation, a sterilization procedure. Ten of her children lived. None attends school.

“They are uninterested in school,” she said. “Parents are too busy in the fields to pay attention.”

Next to Buri lay her sister-in-law, silently shivering under a floral sheet, in labor with her first child. Presiding over the scene was their mother-in-law, a woman in ornate silver jewelry, who matter-of-factly stated that the newborn should be the first of at least eight.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story about Dharavi slum that illustrates entrepreneurship at the bottom:

At the edge of India’s greatest slum, Shaikh Mobin’s decrepit shanty is cleaved like a wedding cake, four layers high and sliced down the middle. The missing half has been demolished. What remains appears ready for demolition, too, with temporary walls and a rickety corrugated roof.

Yet inside, carpenters are assembling furniture on the ground floor. One floor up, men are busily cutting and stitching blue jeans. Upstairs from them, workers are crouched over sewing machines, making blouses. And at the top, still more workers are fashioning men’s suits and wedding apparel. One crumbling shanty. Four businesses.

In the labyrinthine slum known as Dharavi are 60,000 structures, many of them shanties, and as many as one million people living and working on a triangle of land barely two-thirds the size of Central Park in Manhattan. Dharavi is one of the world’s most infamous slums, a cliché of Indian misery. It is also a churning hive of workshops with an annual economic output estimated to be $600 million to more than $1 billion.

“This is a parallel economy,” said Mr. Mobin, whose family is involved in several businesses in Dharavi. “In most developed countries, there is only one economy. But in India, there are two.”.....

Similar to Dharavi, Karachi's Orangi town is an example of undocumented entrepreneurship in the shanties. From garments to leather to furniture, there are many small cottage industries operated by small entrepreneurs in Orangi town.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an NPR Fresh Air interview of Katherine Boo, the author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers:

.......Some inhabitants (of Mumbai slum Annawadi) lack any shelter and sleep outside. Rats commonly bite sleeping children, and barely a handful of the 3,000 residents have the security of full-time employment. Over the course of her time in Annawadi, Boo learned about the residents' social distinctions, their struggles to escape poverty, and conflicts that sometimes threw them into the clutches of corrupt government officials. Her book reads like a novel, but the characters are real.
BOO: Well, I'll describe it (the slum) this way. You come into the Mumbai International Airport, you make a turn, and you go past a lavish Hyatt and a beautiful hotel called the Grand Maratha. By the time you get to the Hyatt, which is about three minutes in your car, you've already gone past this place.

There's a rocky road that goes into it, and you turn in, and the first thing you notice when you get into this landscape of hand-built, makeshift, crooked huts is one of the borders of the slum - or it was I came in 2008 - was this vast lake of extremely noxious sewage and petrochemicals and things that the people modernizing the glamorous airport had dumped in the lake.

And so it was almost beachfront property on this foul, malarial lake, and all around it in this, the single open space in the slum were people cooking and bathing and fighting and flirting. And there were goats and water buffalo. There was a little brothel, and men would line up outside the little brothel. And there was a liquor still.

And mainly there were families and children who were trying their best to find a niche in the global market economy. Almost no one in Annawadi had permanent work. Six people out of 3,000 last I checked had permanent work.
DAVIES: One of the most remarkable things to read here was that you tell us in the book that no one in Annawadi was actually considered poor by traditional Indian benchmarks. Is that right? I mean, if they're not poor, who is poor?

BOO: Go to the village, and you'll see what poor is. No, so officially, the poverty lines in many countries, including India, are set so low that officially the people that I'm writing about look like part of the great success narrative of modern global capitalism. They look like the more than 100 million people who have been freed since liberalization in India in 1991 from poverty.

So usually in my work, I'm not looking to write about the poorest and abject. I'm not looking to make you feel sorry for people. I want readers to have a connection more blooded and complex than pity or revulsion. But really, the main point I have to say is that on the books, these men, women and children have succeeded in the global economy. They're the success stories.

But I hope what my book shows is that it's a little more complicated than that.

DAVIES: Well, I mean, so many of them are just on the edge of losing, you know, food and shelter for the day. I mean, are the truly poor, are they rural poor who sleep out in the open? I mean, who are the...?

BOO: Well, many people in Annawadi sleep out in the open, too, but when Asha(ph) - in the book, I follow Asha, the mother, who has used politics and corruption to try to give her daughter a college education, I follow her back home to Vidarbha, a very poor agricultural region.

And when Asha walks through the door, everybody can see on her face and the face of her children how good life is in the Mumbai slums. Asha's grandmother walks on all fours, she's so bent from agricultural labor. And when Asha walks in that door, she stands mast straight.,,,

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of David Brooks Op Ed in NY Times:

Usually, high religious observance and low income go along with high birthrates. But, according to the United States Census Bureau, Iran now has a similar birth rate to New England — which is the least fertile region in the U.S.

The speed of the change is breathtaking. A woman in Oman today has 5.6 fewer babies than a woman in Oman 30 years ago. Morocco, Syria and Saudi Arabia have seen fertility-rate declines of nearly 60 percent, and in Iran it’s more than 70 percent. These are among the fastest declines in recorded history.

The Iranian regime is aware of how the rapidly aging population and the lack of young people entering the work force could lead to long-term decline. But there’s not much they have been able to do about it. Maybe Iranians are pessimistic about the future. Maybe Iranian parents just want smaller families.
If you look around the world, you see many other nations facing demographic headwinds. If the 20th century was the century of the population explosion, the 21st century, as Eberstadt notes, is looking like the century of the fertility implosion.

Already, nearly half the world’s population lives in countries with birthrates below the replacement level. According to the Census Bureau, the total increase in global manpower between 2010 and 2030 will be just half the increase we experienced in the two decades that just ended. At the same time, according to work by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, the growth in educational attainment around the world is slowing.

This leads to what the writer Philip Longman has called the gray tsunami — a situation in which huge shares of the population are over 60 and small shares are under 30.
Rapidly aging Japan has one of the worst demographic profiles, and most European profiles are famously grim. In China, long-term economic growth could face serious demographic restraints. The number of Chinese senior citizens is soaring by 3.7 percent year after year. By 2030, as Eberstadt notes, there will be many more older workers (ages 50-64) than younger workers (15-29). In 2010, there were almost twice as many younger ones. In a culture where there is low social trust outside the family, a generation of only children is giving birth to another generation of only children, which is bound to lead to deep social change.

Even the countries with healthier demographics are facing problems. India, for example, will continue to produce plenty of young workers. By 2030, according to the Vienna Institute of Demography, India will have 100 million relatively educated young men, compared with fewer than 75 million in China.

But India faces a regional challenge. Population growth is high in the northern parts of the country, where people tend to be poorer and less educated. Meanwhile, fertility rates in the southern parts of the country, where people are richer and better educated, are already below replacement levels.

The U.S. has long had higher birthrates than Japan and most European nations. The U.S. population is increasing at every age level, thanks in part to immigration. America is aging, but not as fast as other countries.

But even that is looking fragile. The 2010 census suggested that U.S. population growth is decelerating faster than many expected.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Javed Burki's ET Op Ed on internal migration in Pakistan:

One reason for this may be that the rural poor choose to relocate themselves in the urban areas in the expectation that more jobs will be available in the urban economy. Economists call this the ‘push factor’ when poor economic conditions in the place of residence persuades people to move to the areas where there may be better prospects for finding jobs. Opposite to this is the ‘pull factor’ when it is known that better paying jobs are available in a particular geographic space some distance away from the place of residence.

The push factor is independent of the amount of distance travelled by those who choose to move out. Short distance migration especially in southern Punjab is an example of the push factor. One result of this is that poverty simply gets exported from one place to the other. Just by moving out, the migrants help those who remain behind. However, they bring down average incomes by moving into the urban areas that don’t have many opportunities to offer. This appears to have happened in the case of the southern districts of Punjab.

For some reason, those discouraged by their circumstances in the countryside as are the people in the southern districts of Punjab province, have preferred to relocate in the nearby towns and cities. They seem to avoid long-distance migration. There are, accordingly, relatively few people from these districts in the well-populated Pakistani diasporas in the Middle East, Britain and North America. A good example is out-migration from Gujrat district situated on the border of central and northern Punjab. The people from this district are to be found in many distant places. They constitute the bulk of the Pakistani population now resident permanently in Norway. I was once told by the Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan that one percent of her country’s population was made up of Pakistanis. In Oslo, the country’s capital, Pakistanis accounted for 10 per cent of the population. Most of these people were from Gujrat district.

Outmigration from Gujrat to Europe offers some interesting insights not only for understanding why people move but also of the choice of their destinations. Once it was appreciated in the district that migration was an important and effective contributor to poverty alleviation, people began to look actively for the opportunities that were available. The Gujratis took advantage of the path discovered by illegal migrants from North Africa to Spain to join this stream of migration. There is now a fairly large community in Barcelona of the people from this district.

Karachi’s growth, on the other hand, is a good example of the pull factor. Millions of people who have left their homes in such poor areas as the tribal regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P) and the barani areas of north Punjab and Azad Kashmir and moved to Karachi. By doing so, they have generally improved their economic situation. They also help the places from which they come by sending back remittances. These have become important contributors to the incomes of the areas such as North Punjab and K-P. Although in its Punjab study the IPP did not do work on the impact of remittances on economic and social development, there is good reason to argue that this must have been positive.

Anonymous said...

our cities are not cities but mega villages. I don’t know whether you have seen or not, a village growth. It is like a layer of onion.that means no planning for future.
If cities are planned they will offer all the things you are talking about.
I work in a smaller organization in west. The parking and green space is bigger than office space. Their new expansion of a billion dollar was monitored by city at every stage. They could not occupy the space till city gave them permission after inspection by city engineers
Planning is, what is lacking. Real state is easy money and all rules are bent for that including burning and destroying revenue records if need arises.
It is all greed motivated without thinking what will happen to our grand children in future.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "our cities are not cities but mega villages. I don’t know whether you have seen or not, a village growth. It is like a layer of onion.that means no planning for future."

Instead of talking in abstract, let's take a concrete example. Orangi Town in Karachi has a huge population of migrants from KP. Orangi has schools, hospitals, jobs, roads, basic sanitation and many other services that barely exist in places where the migrants came from. Orangi Town has made it possible for many poor migrants and their children to move up into the growing middle class in Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Concrete example is layari
How many Baluch are attorneys,PhDs and medical doctors? If you have numbers you can compare with any other Baluch area. Baluch are still same as they were prepartition despite living for centuries in same urban center.
It is again planning, when planners think that how our grandchildren will live here? It cannot happen when karta dharta people plan things for greed.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Concrete example is layari
How many Baluch are attorneys,PhDs and medical doctors?"

Lyari has schools, colleges, hospital...even a medical college. There are many many Baloch doctors, attorneys and engineers. I went to an Engineering College with some of them.

There have been two Baloch Presidents of Pakistan (Laghari and Zardari) and one Prime Minister (Jamali).

Here's how Indian journalist Pakaj Mishra talked about Lyari in a recent piece: "Even in Lyari, Karachi’s diseased old heart, where young gangsters with Kalashnikovs lurked in the alleys, billboards vended quick proficiency in information technology and the English language".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on rising use of contraceptives in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - In year 2011-12, Pakistanis used 149.278 million condoms, 6.223 million cycles of oral pills, 1.315 million insertions of internal uterine devices (IUDs) and 2.705 million vials of injectables, revealed a report released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The PBS report showed an unprecedented rise in the use of condoms as a contraceptive tool during the year 2011-12 as compared to last year.

The Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) witnessed a 60 percent increase in the use of condoms while the federal capital stood second with a rise of 27.9 percent.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ratio of using condoms as a contraceptive tool remained 24.5 percent while Sindh showed a rise of 20.7 percent. In Punjab, rise in the use condoms was recorded at 18.7 percent.

However, according to the report made available to Pakistan Today, a contradictory trend was witnessed in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir where the use of condoms as a contraceptive tool saw a decline in the year 2011-12.

Balochistan recorded a decrease of 11.8 percent in the trend of using condoms as a contraceptive tool whereas the popularity graph of condoms fell down in Gilgit-Baltistan where a decrease of 5.4 percent was recorded.

In Azad jammu and Kashmir, there was a decrease of 1.3 percent in the use of condoms.

For oral pills, the report showed that FATA remained at the top with an increase of 46.2 percent in their use followed by Gilgit-Baltistan with a rise of 20.8 percent and the third place was occupied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 12.0 percent.

In federal capital, the use of oral pills as a means of contraception showed a rise by 4.5 percent, Punjab 3.2 percent and Sindh showed a rise of 2.1 percent.

Again in the case of Balochistan, the use of oral pills was discouraged by locals. The report showed that the use of oral contraceptive pills had decreased by 21.3 percent.

The province/sector-wise comparison of contraceptive performance during the financial year 2011 -12 in terms of Couple Year of Protection (CYP) – an international indicator for data collection – has been made with the previous year 2010-11 which showed that at the national level, an increase of 0.7 percent had been observed for all programme and non-programme outlets during 2011-12 as compared with 2010 -11.

As far as the district Islamabad and FATA are concerned, the contraceptive performance for the financial year 2011-12 compared with 2010-11 depicted an increase of 19.5 percent and 37.4 percent respectively, whereas a decrease of 2.9 percent and 12.0 percent had been recorded in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Stephen Mosher on fertility decline in Europe published by Population Research Institute:

It’s happened before.

Writing a century and a half before the birth of Christ, the Greek historian Polybius observed “nowadays all over Greece such a diminution in natality and in general manner such depopulation that the towns are deserted and the fields lie fallow. Although this country has not been ravaged by wars or epidemics, the cause of the harm is evident: by avarice or cowardice the people, if they marry, will not bring up the children they ought to have. At most they bring up one or two. It is in this way that the scourge before it is noticed is rapidly developed.”

He concluded by urging his fellow Greeks to return to their historic love of family and children. “The remedy is in ourselves,” he wrote. “We have but to change our morals.” His advice, unfortunately, went largely unheeded.

The demographic winter of the Greek city-states led to economic stagnation and military weakness, which in turn invited invasion and conquest. After a century of increasing dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean, Rome finally annexed the Greek city-states in 146 B.C.

Will a Europe in the grip of a similar demographic winter come to a similar unhappy end? Certainly Europeans of today, like the Greeks of old, are barely having children. The birthrate across the entire continent is far below the replacement level of 2.1 children per couple. Italy, Spain, Austria, and Germany have total fertility rates, or TFRs, of only 1.4 or so, while Poland and Russia languish at 1.32 and 1.2 respectively. The more or less generous child allowances these countries pay the prolific has scarcely caused these numbers to budge. The birth dearth continues to widen.


Most Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East have fertility rates two or three times as high as Europe. Afghanistan and Somalia, whose fertility rates are above 6 children (6.62 and 6.4 respectively), may be outliers. But other Middle Eastern countries with above-replacement TFRs include Iraq at 4.86, Pakistan at 3.65, and Saudi Arabia at 3.03. Even immigrants from the most Westernized Muslim countries such as Turkey and Tunisia average nearly twice as many children as the extant populations of most European countries.

While falling fertility may be humanity’s general fate, it is this differential fertility that will determine Europe’s destiny. Although the birthrates of Muslim immigrants to Europe are far lower than they were just a generation ago, they are still far more open to life than highly secularized Europeans. Moreover, these immigrants, once in place in Germany, Italy, Spain, etc., tend to maintain their relatively high fertility for a generation.

If, on the other hand, the second- and third-generation Muslims are largely secularized, then the Christian minority will be, presumably, treated somewhat better, though still subject to some level of discrimination. As everyone knows by now, the Secular Left preaches a tolerance that it generally does not practice.

Either way, believers in once-Christian Europe will probably find themselves living in what might be called a pre-Constantine moment. In others words, they will be living under regimes that punish, even persecute, them for their beliefs.

At the present moment, Europeans still control their own destiny. As Polybius, were he alive today, would surely remind them: “The remedy is in yourselves. You have but to change your morals.”

Riaz Haq said...

Initially, most poor migrants who arrive in Karachi start with low-paying jobs and live in slums. Over time, many move up to middle class with better jobs and housing and their children do even better with greater opportunities offered by Karachi.

To illustrate this, let me give you the example of ANP's Senator Shahi Syed who drove a rickshaw and lived in slum when he first came to Karachi. Now, he lives in Mardan House, palatial home in Defense Society.

A recent book "Getting Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" is a similar rags to riches tale set in Lahore.

Read my other post titled "Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope" to understand better what I'm talking about.

Riaz Haq said...

There are many misguided Pakistani writers who parrot nonsense about Pak population growth.

Larger population is in fact a blessing for Pakistan in terms of greater human capital and higher demographic dividend.

Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.

Dramatic declines in fertility are not necessarily good for society. In a book titled "The Empty Cradle", the author Philip Longman warns that the declining birth rates around the world will cause many social and economic problems. As a consequence of declining fertility, by 2050 the population of Europe will have fallen to what it was in 1950. Mr. Longman says this is happening all around the world: Women are having fewer children. It's happening in Brazil, it's happening in China, India and Japan. It's even happening in the Middle East. Wherever there is rapid urbanization, education for women and visions of urban affluence, birthrates are falling. Having and raising children is seen as an expense and a burden.

"So we have a "free rider" problem. You don't need to have children to provide for your old age -- but the pension systems need them." Says Longman, referring to the coming Social Security crunch as the number of retired people rises faster than the number of workers.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's my assessment of how the vote will turn out:

PML (N) may end up with the largest number of seats but it probably will not be able to put together a coalition.

This will likely open up an opportunity for the PPP to form the next govt. So there's very little chance of better governance in the next 5 years.

Imran Khan (PTI) will most likely sit in the opposition with 30-40 seats....a substantial number to be able to influence laws and policies.

Let's check back in a few days.

The following blog post and the TV show were recorded in Aug 2012 before the Taliban started to selectively attack PPP, ANP, and MQM. Since then, ANP's chances have significantly diminished but PPP and MQM still remain strong in their respective strongholds. The PPP-MQM-ANP bloc can still prevail and form the next govt because the right-wing (PML N, JI, JUI, and I include PTI in that as well) in Pakistan is deeply divided with each party fielding candidates against others.

If the result goes as I predict with PTI getting 30-40 seats (substantial in my view), then I fear that Imran Khan's folks will cry foul. But it'll be a test of IK's leadership to cool tempers and work to improve the system and hope that the next election could make PTI a big winner.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a New York Times story on economic and income mobility in US:

This geography appears to play a major role in making Atlanta one of the metropolitan areas where it is most difficult for lower-income households to rise into the middle class and beyond, according to a new study that other researchers are calling the most detailed portrait yet of income mobility in the United States.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.
What they found surprised them, said Raj Chetty, one of the authors and the most recent winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, which the American Economic Association awards to the country’s best academic economist under the age of 40. The researchers concluded that larger tax credits for the poor and higher taxes on the affluent seemed to improve income mobility only slightly. The economists also found only modest or no correlation between mobility and the number of local colleges and their tuition rates or between mobility and the amount of extreme wealth in a region.

But the researchers identified four broad factors that appeared to affect income mobility, including the size and dispersion of the local middle class. All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.

Income mobility was also higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Dawn Op Ed on declining fertility rates in Pakistan:

Getting down to two children per family may seem an elusive target, however, Pakistanis have made huge dents in the alarmingly high fertility rates, despite the widespread opposition to family planning. Since 1988, the fertility rate in Pakistan has declined from 6.2 births per woman to 3.5 in 2009. In a country where the religious and other conservatives oppose all forms of family planning, a decline of 44 per cent in fertility rate is nothing short of a miracle.

A recent paper explores the impact of family planning programs in Pakistan. The paper uses data from the 2006-07 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, which interviewed 10, 023 ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years. The survey revealed that only 30 per cent women used contraceptives in Pakistan. Though the paper in its current draft has several shortcomings, yet it still offers several insights into what contributes to high fertility and what the effective strategies are to check high fertility rates in Pakistan.

The survey revealed that the use of contraceptives did not have any significant impact for women who had given birth to six or more children. While 24 per cent women who were not using any contraceptives reported six or more births, 37 per cent of those who used contraceptives reported six or more births. At the same time, 27 per cent of women who were not visited by the family planning staff reported six or more births compared with 22 per cent of women who had a visit with the family planning staff.

Meanwhile, demographic and socio-economic factors reported strong correlation with the fertility outcomes. Women who were at least 19 years old at marriage were much less likely to have four or more births than those who were younger at the time of marriage. Similarly, those who gave birth before they turned 19 were much more likely to have four or more births.

Education also reported strong correlation with fertility outcomes. Consider that 58 per cent of illiterate women reported four or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were highly educated. Similarly, 60 per cent of the women married to illiterate men reported four or more births compared to 39 per cent of the women married to highly educated men. The survey revealed that literacy among women mattered more for reducing fertility rates than literacy among their husbands.

The underlying variable that defines literacy and the prevalence of contraceptives in Pakistan is the economic status of the households. The survey revealed that 32 per cent of women from poor households reported six or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were from affluent households.

The above results suggest that family planning efforts in Pakistan are likely to succeed if the focus is on educating young women. Educated young women are likely to get married later and will have fewer children. This is also supported by a comprehensive study by the World Bank in which Andaleeb Alam and others observed that cash transfer programs in Punjab to support female education resulted in a nine percentage point increase in female enrollment. At the same time, the authors found that those girls who participated in the program delayed their marriage and had fewer births by the time they turned 19.

Riaz Haq said...

"Europe, China, Japan, and Russia have doomed themselves to demographic suicide because of low birth rates."

I picked up Peter Zeihan’s The Accidental Superpower because I thought the title was interesting. I did not expect it to be as excellent a book as it is. I actually expected a dry dissertation on geopolitics. It is a dissertation on geopolitics but it is anything but dry.
The book itself is 354 pages of text including appendices and includes an introduction, epilogue, and index. It is separated into 15 thematic chapters. The first eight chapters describe the impact of geography on the human settlement and political organization. They also go over how that impact has determined which modern countries and peoples are winners and which are losers. The last seven chapters look at the present and to the future in light of energy developments in the US.

The basic premise of the book is that because of the oil shale boom in the US America will shortly abandon the Bretton Woods international trade and monetary system that has been the international order since the end of World War II. America can do that because they no longer require a secure Middle East for strategic reasons of energy supply. He does not predict, in fact he specifically refuses to predict, whether that turn will be rapid or gradual. He just claims that the turn away from Bretton Woods is inevitable for a whole host of reasons. The contention is that since America has no strategic need to maintain Bretton Woods, hey will abandon it. The consequences for the rest of the world will be many, and almost all will be significant.

The main predictions are that the EU is unsustainable in the long-term because of inherent inequalities and difference between the northern and southern tier of EU countries. Europe, China, Japan, and Russia have doomed themselves to demographic suicide because of low birth rates. China better enjoy the boom while it lasts because their current prosperity is built on an economic house of cards that must collapse sooner or later. Russia is an unstable power that must wage aggressive wars for security sooner rather than later or face national and ethnic oblivion.

All of these predictions are made within a framework composed of the unalterable facts of demography, available resources, and geography. It is an interesting argument, to say the least, and one that has much going for it. As to whether the predictions for what is coming are true, only time will tell. One of the best lines from the book is that “history is about to start up again” and that the abandonment of Bretton Woods will expose much of the present international order for the artificially forced construct that it is. Based on my own thinking I would guess that Zeihan will be at least 50% accurate in his reading of the tea leaves if not more so. I would actually guess he is closer to 75% right. We are entering interesting times indeed and the next 15-20 years are going to be a bumpy ride.

The Accidental Superpower is one of the most interesting books I have read dealing with geopolitics in a long time and even if it turns out entirely wrong provides plenty of food for thought. I recommend this book for anyone interested in geopolitics or the way in which geography and population has shaped history and the forms and identities of nations. An excellent book.

Riaz Haq said...

Working Paper Series on Rural-Urban Interactions
and Livelihood Strategies
Migration and small towns in Pakistan

Migration has long played a key role in shaping the size and distribution of the population of
Pakistan. Since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, and up to recent and
ongoing conflicts within the region, Pakistan has been the destination for large numbers of
cross-border migrants and refugees. These migrant groups, together with the growing
number of rural people displaced by agricultural modernization and mechanization, have
contributed to the substantial increase in the levels of urbanization in Pakistan, especially in
the more industrialized provinces of Punjab and Sindh. At the same time, like the people of
so many low- and middle-income nations, Pakistani citizens have sought work abroad, and
in the 1970s large-scale labour migration to the Middle East began in earnest. Remittances
have since become an important component of the national economy and of the livelihoods
of many households.
These complex and substantial movements have resulted in profound changes in settlement
patterns, and also in deep socioeconomic and cultural transformations. Smaller urban
centres, such as the ones described in this paper, reflect the growing discrepancy between
changing values and widening economic opportunities on the one hand, and the persistence
of a feudal system of political power often supported by a highly controversial administrative
and political devolution plan, on the other hand.
This study draws upon secondary sources and census reports of the government of
Pakistan. In addition, it draws upon previous work done by the authors, and detailed
interviews which have been carried out for this study. A list of the persons interviewed, along
with excerpts from their interviews, is given in Appendix 1. These excerpts have been
translated from Urdu recordings totalling over 16 hours.

In 1996 he became responsible for looking after the oil tankers of a private individual from his
area. This is what he does now and it has for the first time given him surplus income. He has
invested in a plot and house in a katchi abadi in Karachi. His two sons are now living in the city
and have both gone to high school. They are also in the transport business and have negotiated
informal loans for buying rickshaws which they rent out to people from their own area in the
NWFP, while they work as drivers for private companies. All this is the result of the connections
Abdul developed while working in Karachi.
From 1976 until the time that he got a job that earned him a surplus – 1996 – Abdul could never
have even thought of bringing his family to Karachi. He did not earn enough to rent
accommodation and the type of jobs that he did required odd working hours. Most of the time he
lived in make-shift accommodation near transport and cargo terminals or with co-workers,
sometimes seven to eight men in a room, and even more sharing a toilet. He feels that staying
away from his family and living the way he did was tough and that nobody should be subjected to
such conditions. However, these sacrifices have opened a new world of opportunities for his
immediate family and saved them from a life similar to Abdul’s.
Source: Interview taken by Arif Hasan in Karachi on 13 December 2007

Riaz Haq said...

Mismanagement complicates Pakistan’s long recovery from deadly floods

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

For decades, Karachi has been a magnet for migrants from conflict and climate disasters. Decades ago, it ran out of room. Dotting the city's outskirts are clusters of ramshackle dwellings. These have stood since the 2010 floods.

Less than a mile away, crammed under high-voltage power lines, a 2022 wave of settlers.

Sikhandar Chandio, Flood Victim (through translator):

When the water came, it came all of a sudden at night. We just managed to get out with whatever we could and had to abandon our animals.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Sikhandar Chandio and his wife, Sughra, were sharecropper farmers. They escaped with their four children, and were able to save one cow. They journeyed here on foot, which took a week.

Sughra Chandio, Flood Victim (through translator):

Everything was underwater. There were no facilities. There was no help, no food.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Today, they rely on a patchwork of charities, everyone overwhelmed by what U.N. officials describe as one of the worst climate disasters on record, slamming a country that contributes less than 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistani Prime Minister (through translator):

We have mobilized every available resource towards the national relief effort, and repurposed all budget priorities.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Pakistan took the lead at this year's COP 27 climate conference, helping to secure agreement on a loss and damage fund to help developing nations cope.

Just how those funds, if they appear, will be used is a concern.

Kaiser Bengali, Former Adviser, Pakistan Ministry of Planning and Development: But there is a fair amount of manmade responsibility for these floods, and politics plays a big part.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

Kaiser Bengali was a government adviser during the 2010 floods, Pakistan's worst until 2022.

Kaiser Bengali:

I think it is also important to see how this fund will be utilized and how it will be implemented and whether the sociopolitical structures and the planning structures that need to be changed, made more effective happens.

Fred de Sam Lazaro:

The 1,800-mile-long Indus River, lifeblood of Pakistan's agriculture sector, has been extensively engineered with dams and canals, beginning during British colonial times and ramping up in the 1960s with loans and advisers from international lending agencies.

Has it been, in terms of food production, a reasonably good investment?

Kaiser Bengali:

Certainly. Lands where not even a blade of grass grew now produce two crops a year. It's just that one has to manage this better.

Ahmed Kamal, Chairman, Pakistan Federal Flood Commission:

Governance structure is not good.