Orangi Township,Karachi'slargest squatter settlement (8,000 acres) is situated in the Orangi hills. Thepopulation of about 900,000 lives in 94,122 houses which people haveconstructed by themselves with the help of the informal sector. The townshipwas created through the illegal occupation and subdivision of state land. Pipedwater has been available for most of the settlement since 1984. Before theOrangi Pilot Project (OPP) was established in the township, there was no propersanitation system.
The vast majority of Orangiresidents are working class, poor but not destitute. Average earning perhousehold is about Rs.1,650 (US$66) per month against an average Karachi household incomeof Rs. 2,100 (US$84).
In 1979: Aga Hasan Abidi, thePresident of the Bank of commerce and Credit International (BCCI) Foundationwanted the Foundation to involve itself in "social welfare" work inOrangi. He approached the renowned Pakistani social scientist, Dr. AkhtarHameed Khan, who informed Aga Hasan Abidi that he would be willing to undertakethe development of a research project aimed at tackling the problems of Orangiand its residents through promoting community organizations, and in February1980 the OPP was created.
The OPP's objective is to analyseoutstanding problems in Orangi, and then through prolonged action research andextension education, discover viable solutions. It promotes communityorganization and operative action, and provides technical support; thusovercoming most of the constraints governments face in upgrading low incomeinformal settlements. The OPP feels that the function of NGOs and pilotprojects in squatter rehabilitation programmes is to develop strategies thatcan be integrated into the planning mechanisms of the government because thescale of the problem is too large to be tackled without effective governmentparticipation. For this integration to become possible, there are threeprerequisites:
1. The models developed should overcome the constraints facedby government agencies in the rehabilitation of informal settlements withoutrequiring major changes in their structure and/or the development andimposition of any radical legislature.
2. Overheads, staff salaries and related costs, should be inkeeping with government expenditure patterns and regulations and the strategyshould respect established state procedures.
3. Proper documentation of developing the model, the creationof a demonstration area, an effective training material have to be created, toaid replication.
Most programmes developed for thepoor in the Third World fail because they aredesigned by upper class professionals not conversant with the sociology,economics and culture of these communities or the causes of the conditions ininformal settlements. But the informal sector, that caters to the needs of theurban poor and the urban poor themselves do not have access to research andadvice that professionals can give. Therefore, an arrangement has to be made toenable effective interaction between qualified professionals and researchinstitutions on the one hand, and the informal sector and low incomecommunities on the other. The OPP has succeeded in creating such anarrangement.
TheLow-Cost Sanitation Programme:
When the OPP was established thelanes of Orangi were full of waste water and excreta. The first priority of theOrangi residents was for the development of an underground sewerage system.However, they felt that this was something that the local bodies or the KarachiDevelopment authority (KDA) should give them free of cost. The Orangileadership, mainly land-grabbers and middlemen who had helped establish thesettlement, encouraged the people to think in these terms. Dr. Khan wasinformed that the KDA and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had no money togift a sanitation system to low income settlements. However, internationalloans were being arranged to finance the Katchi Abadi (squatter settlements)Improvement and Regularization Programme under which sanitation would beprovided and costs recovered through lease and development charges.
OPP research showed that recoveryof money from the poor for development projects has a very poor history in Pakistan. Also,the problem of Katchi Abadis was so immense (with over 3.5 million people in Karachi alone) that itcould not be solved through foreign loans, especially if the cost could not berecovered from the beneficiaries. If foreign capital and international tenderswere involved, the cost of a sanitation system was 25 times the cost of actuallabour and materials due to high overheads, excessive profiteering, kickbacksto government officials and fees to foreign consultants. But an underground sanitation system could bepaid for by Orangi squatters themselves if only labour and materials wereinvolved. Further, if they could collect money first, loan problems could beavoided.
The first step was the creation ofcommunity organizations. The lane, which in Orangi consists of about 20 to 30houses, was made the unit of organization. An underground sewerage system iscomplex and developing one lane at a time, without a master plan, wasconsidered by planners to be an invitation to disaster. However, because ofinnovation and modifications to engineering practice, no disaster took placewhen they proceeded thus, involving lane units one by one.
The OPP social organizersdeveloped lane organizations, explaining the programme to the people. Each lanethen chose its own lane manager, who formally applied to the OPP forassistance. Following that, the OPP surveyed the lane, prepared plans andestimates and handed this data to the lane manager, who then collected moneyfrom the people.
As there was no centralsupervision and controlling agency and as people worked by themselves, certainsubstandard work was done, and in mid 1982 there was a lull in the programme.An evaluation of the concept, design and implementation procedures of theproject became necessary. Research was carried out to identify causes forsubstandard work and simplify standard engineering designs. The results of thisresearch were taken to the people through a massive extension effort, andhundreds of meetings were held. People learnt about the mixing and curing ofconcrete and about the proper manner of making inverts. This led to a greatimprovement in standards and more and more lanes applied for assistance. Italso lead to a major modification to conventional sanitation technology andprocedures and made them compatible with the concept of a community financedand built system. It also reduced costs substantially and resulted in majortechnical innovations.
As the lane was the unit oforganization, initially only those lanes which were near a nullah (naturaldrain), or those which could drain into nullahs easily asked for assistance.OPP advisors feared the programme would end here, unless lanes away from thenullahs came together to construct secondary drains. To promote this conceptthe OPP organized a physical survey of Orangi carried out by architecture andengineering students. After the students and people had collaborated, Orangibecame a changed place. The concept of secondary drains registered in theirminds. In addition, the concept of development through community participationwent back to the universities and colleges, and their involvement with Orangihas grown as a result.
The OPP no longer needs tomotivate the people. Lanes organize themselves and contact the OPP fortechnical assistance, and the OPP organizers provide technical supervisionrather than organization. People may even get the work designed and executed bymasons trained through working in other lanes. The average cost per householdworks out to about Rs. 1000 (US$40) all in. The people find this reasonable.The people of Orangi have invested Rs. 53,183,656 (US$2.13 million) in thiseffort. OPP's administrative, research and extension costs came to only Rs.3,428,588 (US$127,000). In addition, the people maintain the system themselves.
However, there are problems, nullahsare silting up and are prone to flooding after rain. Untreated sewerage isbeing taken to the sea from not only Orangi, but the whole of Karachi. The OPP has now developed designsfor trunk sewers and is lobbying with the KMC to get them implemented. Theresidents of Orangi cannot possibly develop trunk sewers and treatment plants.
Survey carried by the Aga Khan Medical Universityshow that health conditions in Orangi have improved immensely and real estateprices have shot up. In addition, the OPP now has technical manpower and social organizers, who understand thesanitation related problems of low income settlements and also have the skillsto train communities in solving them. The OPP has designed and developed toolsand equipment to train people and to deliver its sanitation model.
By now the OPP has successfullymobilized the people in completing other programmes such as the Low CostHousing Programme, the Basic Health and Family Planning Programme, the Women'sWork Centres Programme, the Programme of Supervised Credit for Small Family EnterpriseUnits and a Private School Programme.
The Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) isa viable project for developing a Low cost sanitation system through communityself-help. It aims at action research through which viable solutions to thecommunity problems can be found. OPP has been successful in laying a communityfinanced and built sewerage system for Orangi, the largest squatter settlementin Karachi. Ithelped the people of Orangi to organize themselves and learn about mixing andcuring of concrete and about the proper manner of making inverts. Thus, OPPreduced the costs substantially and resulted in major technical innovations.The high overheads, excessive profiteering, kickbacks to government officialsin conventional public projects make them unaffordable to the poor. The OPPsanitation programme is affordable by the low income people because they haveto pay the cost of labour and materials only. Even labour cost is cut down ifthey contribute in form of labour. The OPP has resulted in the reduction ofpollution and diseases in the Orangi area. Since people organize themselves andcollect money first, the problem of loan recovery is avoided. The success ofOPP has proved that the concept of development through community participationis the only viable option for low income communities.
1. Sanitation improved for about 900,000 people and 94,122houses on self-help basis.
2. Average cost of sewerage system laid down throughcommunity participation is only Rs. 1000/- per household.
3. People of Orangi laid down 1.3 million feet of sewer lineand invested about Rs.53,183,656 in the sanitation programme.
4. People of Orangi maintain the sewerage system themselvesat no cost to Government.