UN-Habitat is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
The State of Pakistani Cities (SPC) report is spearheaded by the Ministry of Climate change with the technical assistance of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) funded by the Australian Government. The State of Pakistani Cities (SPC) report is a pivotal document which identifies the underlying socio-economic drivers contributing to the state of urbanization in the ten largest cities namely Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Peshawar, Multan, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Quetta and their efficacy to respond to the urbanization challenges. The findings of the study reveal that the ten selected cities make up more than half of the total urban population, accounting for 54 percent of the national urban population.
Pakistani cities vary in terms of their size economy, employment and tax revenues. Services and industry are the major employment sectors in Pakistani cities. The share of the service economy in the cities is larger than the share of services in the national economy. Pakistan generates 95 percent of its total federal tax revenue from its ten major cities and Karachi contributes 55 percent, Islamabad 16 percent, and Lahore 15 percent. The average urban per capita income in Pakistan among the ten cities varies from PKR 37,000-70,000. Poverty in urban areas is a major and visible phenomenon. Six out of the top ten major cities have double-digit poverty figures: Quetta, with 46 percent has the highest poverty rate while Islamabad, with 3 percent has the lowest poverty rate.
The responsibility for the management of Pakistani cites is divided between Municipalities, District Administration, Development Authorities and Service Delivery Institutions for example, the responsibility for Urban Planning rests with City Development Authorities, while public land ownership is fragmented and divided between Municipality, Development Authorities, Cantonments, Industrial Estates, and Provincial Government departments. The delivery of basic urban services is similarly divided amongst separate authorities. Each agency is autonomous in carrying out the development works and maintaining the facilities within their jurisdiction. However, they all rely on provincial or national bodies for funds. Since provincial authorities collect local revenues no efforts are put into strengthening the fiscal and financial or capacity or managerial capability of local bodies.
Access to clean water continues to be a major problem in Pakistani cities. Only 65.2 percent of households in Pakistan’s 10 major cities have access to piped water connections. The cities lack sewage treatment facilities and solid waste management which leads to severe environmental pollution and contamination of surface and ground water bodies. Shortage of power supply remains a persistent problem in harnessing the potential of the socio-economic development of the cities. Further, general understanding and appreciation of the environment and heritage is low among the relevant authorities and other stakeholders.
Increasing urbanization has created pressing demands for housing in cities. The absence of any formal provision for the lower-income urban population and the people migrating from rural areas to urban areas has resulted in the creation of large informal settlements, lacking access to adequate level of services. The report also features data gap in the urban sector in Pakistan as one of the key limitation for sustainable development.
Pakistani cities need to better plan and manage their development to meet the needs and demands of their citizens and indeed of the country. To prosper, cities need to be more responsive towards the environment and adopt technologies and economies that are less wasteful and destructive. Thus, taking a more realistic approach to development that meets the demands of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Copyright UN Habitat Pakistan 2019