All posts by aeldredge

Rural Populations sent Packing in Pakistan

Violence and the environmental issues have caused people to flood into Pakistan’s cities, ultimately overwhelming Pakistan’s ability to provide basic services.

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Pakistan has historically struggled with urbanization due to violent conflict. For example, during the Partition around 6 to 8 million Muslims from India entered Pakistan, settling in eastern urban areas such as Punjab. Today, military offensive in rural areas and an increase in bandits, is fueling the migration into cities as people seek protection.

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A devastating combination of droughts in some rural areas, have forced fisherman and farmers into cities to find employment, and floods in other areas, result in droves of people seeking housing, has created a perfect storm for urbanization. This phenomenon is predicted to worsen as climate change continues.

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The masses  of people migrating is on top of Pakistan’s high demographic growth of 2% annually meaning that 180 million could become 450 million in 2050. The combination of factors results in Pakistan urbanizing at the fastest pace in South Asia. It is estimated that half of the rising population will live in cities by 2025.

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The more people that rush to cities, in many cases to receive basic services, the less able the government is to provide those services. One of the biggest problems is housing, in 2015, it was projected that 4.4 million housing units were needed in Pakistan’s major cities. Even if the population does not grow, pressure on the housing market will growas families split off.  The housing that is built is often extremely low quality and disjointed due to a lack of urban planning.

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Water is another major issue, only half of people in cities get water 4-16 hours a day and 90% of water supplied is not safe to drink. Solid waste management services are lacking and in cities with large populations on average one toilet is used by 20 people. This combined with poor health services causes a  large amount of dysentery related deaths especially among children.

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While many problems have arisen due to urbanization, not everything is negative. Urbanization has assisted their economy through diversification which could become more crucial if agricultural jobs continue to disappear due to climate change. Pakistan is also working on  planning urban development to try to steadily improve living conditions in cities, through legislation.