Having completed his training in Architecture by 1960 in Karachi, the Mega-Cities Coordinator pursued his advanced studies and practical work in Ankara, Stuttgart, and London. He returned to Karachi in 1978 to manage the Department of Architecture & Planning of the Mega-Cities Host Institution.
During the last two decades, his efforts to initiate innovative teaching strategies in architecture and planning have met with noteworthy results and success. His key objective was a process whereby architects and planners become "Socially Responsive" and aware of the pressing issues of the society at large. The practical efforts of this are clearly felt especially in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan, through the working of the graduates of this Architectural Institution. In 1993 he established an education NGO actively involved in creating a support mechanism for applied research and field pilot projects.
He began his role as Coordinator of the Karachi Mega-Cities Project in 1994. Through his policies and efforts, the Department developed a working relationship and linkages with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT - Harvard, Oxford Brookes University in the U.K, Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul, and many other NGOs and CBOs in Pakistan and abroad.
The hallmark of the Coordinator's efforts is to create an active mechanism of academic and field work related to architecture and environmental issues mainly concerning low income groups in metropolises. His concept and model of "Socially Responsive Architecture" is greatly compatible with the aims pursued by the Mega-Cities Project.
The Karachi Mega-Cities Project (KMCP) is based in the Department of Architecture & Planning at a Karachi college. A research and training institute under the KMCP called the Karachi Mega-City Institute (KMCI) is developing full-fledged archives that would centralize all data on the Karachi Megapolis by creating a liaison with public and private organizations, NGOs, CBOs, and academic institutions.
The Host Institution has initiated a number of research studies and projects, among which are a conservation study in the old city quarter, a collection on "Innovative Urban Strategies," documentation of zoning contraventions in 'Karachi' Cantonment Areas, a study for Commander Karachi, and a comprehensive Environmental Study (CES) of the Main Fruit and Vegetable Market at its sub-metropolitan location. The Institution has an academic faculty of architects, planners and urban designers, along with an in-house backup of civil engineering and human science professionals. The Institution is well-equipped to transfer knowledge and replicate field projects.
Academic / Research Sector
Mass Media Sector
Grassroots Group and NGOs
In 1728, the estuary of the Hub River, which then formed the port of Kharak Bunder, silted up due to heavy rains. Its residents thus chose to relocate to the Bay of Karachi, eighteen miles east of Kharak Bunder, and established a small town in its vicinity. Although the city of Karachi was established in the early eighteenth century, its bay has been mentioned in historical accounts, and in its immediate vicinity are ancient places of pilgrimage.
From 1841 to 1941, Karachi experienced an average annual growth rate of 3% and its population grew from 14,000 to 435,000. At the time of Independence in 1947, it had an urban area of 233 sq.km.; with the influx of refugees from India, as well as internal migration, the population rose to 1.4 million people by the year 1959. Even with the relocation of the capital to Islamabad, Karachi's population continued to grow. It reached 2 million by 1961 and 5.3 million by 1981. There has been a phenomenal increase in the area of the city as well, from 233 sq.km. in 1947 to 1,994 sq.km. in 1981.
The city is presently growing at an annual rate of 5%. About 0.2 million people or nearly 50,000 households are added to this metropolis every year and the city will have approximately 15 million inhabitants by the end of this century.
Of about 0.8 million dwelling units in the city, only 30% are well-built. In many areas the water supply is lower than 10 gallons per person. Only 38% of households have water connections, only 28% are connected to a sewerage system, and only 4% of biological waste is treated.
The distribution of health and educational facilities is not balanced. The location of job opportunities in the sprawling metropolis has created a serious problem of excessive commuters who are forced to rely on public transport. The result has been congestion on roads and environmental pollution, as well as time-consuming journeys for low-income people which places a strain on their family budgets.
More than half of Pakistan's population lives in abject poverty. Basic essentials of life such as safe drinking water, proper sanitation, appropriate shelter, primary health care, and educational facilities are inaccessible to them. Urban centers are facing tremendous pressures due to the ongoing rural urban migrations, poor practices of governance, inadequate infrastructure, and socioeconomic inequalities. The absence of shelter options has resulted in the growth of informal settlements, especially in the large cities.
Orangi Pilot Project—Research and
Training Institute (OPP-RTI)
The Orangi Pilot Project is a non-governmental research institution begun in 1980 that promotes self-help in the form of self-finance and self-management. Among the action research programs using community participation and management are:
The philosophy of the OPP is summed up by its Director: "We are all living through a period of social dislocation, where people have been uprooted from their old familiar environments. They have to re-establish a sense of belonging, community feeling, and the conventions of mutual help and co-operative action. This can be done chiefly through the creation of local level social and economic organizations. Without these organizations, chaos and confusion will prevail."
OPP's success has led to the creation of OPP-RTI (Research and Training Institute), where the OPP model is used in extension programs for participants from other cities in Pakistan and abroad.
Young Professionals Training Unit (YPTI)
The Young Professionals Training Unit was formed to provide people with proper professional guidance. The objectives of the YPTU are:
The YPTU has a flexible working mechanism. The fellows of YPTU are sent to work with NGOS, CBOs, and /or research organizations involved with the community's welfare. This assignment provides the young professionals with an on-job training opportunity.
The YPTU is a collaborative organ of a network of institutions that include the Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI), the Urban Resource Centre (URC), and the Department of Architecture & Planning of the Dawood College of Engineering & Technology in Karachi. These institutions together constitute the framework that has pioneered the cause of professional support to communities. The YPTU has permanent support from each of the above-mentioned institutions and functions to promote their work.
The YPTU includes a fellowship program that creates a support mechanism for young professionals who wish to seek careers in community service. Through the assistance provided by the YPTU, young professionals explore the possibilities of finding a useful role for themselves in the community. The fellowship program has also proved useful to NGOs, CBOs, and other groups that seek manpower for their activities, not to mention the fresh ideas that the young professionals may generate while working with them.
Development Scheme: from Hyderabad to Karachi
A poor family who arrives at the settlement, located near the highway between Karachi and Hyderabad, is required to stay in a reception area for 15 days. After being screened by HDA and making a down payment of Rs.1000 the family is allocated a plot of land. The entire cost of a developed plot (Rs.9600 or US $200) is borne by the owner in monthly installments spread over eight years. As the repayments proceed, infrastructure developments are implemented. Residents of each block choose community leaders who are the liaisons between the community and the authority.
The Incremental Housing Development (IHD) approach was applied in the Khuda-Ki-Basti Project of Gulshan-e-Shabaz, near Hyderabad. Informal settlements in the area were rapidly increasing in size due to the employment attraction of the Kotri Industrial area. HDA came to the conclusion that the conventional practice of land delivery would not function and sought a partnership with the informal land subdivider who was the key force in settling the people in informal settlements. Thus HDA incorporated subdividers into its fold.
SAIBAN was formed to initiate and lobby for the replication of this incremental housing scheme in other parts of the country, such as Taiser Town, which lies along the eastern corridors of Karachi and is relatively undeveloped. SAIBAN reached an agreement with the Malir Development Authority(MDA), the caretaker agency controlling land development in the area. The trunk infrastructure, including water mains and trunk sewers, will be laid down by MDA for which cost recovery will be made from the allottees and SAIBAN. Internal piloting and land allocation will be done by SAIBAN, although the MDA may reserve some plots for its own allottees. Internal services will be laid down by the people themselves under the technical and managerial supervision of SAIBAN. SAIBAN will guide the development according to the existing set of by-laws applicable in similar areas in the city.
The Karachi Development Authority has categorized the problems of the human environment in the Karachi metropolis. Among the critical ones are:
Other issues may also be added, such as a disregard for architectural heritage, faceless blocks of commercial and residential buildings, and the conversion of amenity plots into speculative housing.
Karachi is in chaos, but it is inhabited not only by the prophets of doom and the merchants of gloom. There are those who care, who have—even if only in their own small way—achieved results that need appraisal, evaluation, and even propagation. Hope for the future lies in these informal sector efforts. In this city globally known for continued strife and turmoil, the informal sector has indeed managed to keep it alive and thriving. Even with its ever-increasing population and heterogenous mix, the city has shown great resilience and strength to not only survive but to actually evolve its own alternate culture. Without informal sector initiatives, this would have been impossible to achieve.
Issues and Concerns
Approach and Vision Toward the
The Mega-Cities Project is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status.
Founder and President: Janice Perlman, PhD. Information: email@example.com
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