Address: Plot no. St-4, Sector 5/A, Qasba Colony, Manghopir Road, Karachi 75800   

 Phone: (92-21) 38294679,   Email: opprti.ngo@gmail.com

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In Pakistan, poor peoples housing (known as Katchi Abadis - the unofficial sector) are everywhere. In Karachi, a port city and commercial center of Pakistan, about 60 % of the total population of 15 million, live in these abadis. Here land is purchased from a middle man (the land supplier) who subdivides government and some private land and sells it to the poor, in the process, paying bribes of cash and choice plots to the government functionaries. Presently 72% of these abadies have been notified i.e. accepted by the government, while more then 40% of the houses have been provided land title- remaining are under process. This has been mainly due to the peoples consistent efforts.

Provision of a housing unit is not a problem. People build their houses incrementally, with building component manufacturing yards in the settlements providing building materials and components on credit. Initially the land supplier (who is a resourceful person having links with politicians, government departments and the private operators) arranges the supply of water through water tankers and transportation (i.e. bus routes). As the settlement expands and consolidates, need for water supply, sewage disposal, schools and clinics arises. For livelihood, people set up micro enterprises in their homes. People lobby with government for facilities but due to lack of or adhoc+ government response, they soon undertake self help initiatives.

In 1980 when OPP started work in Orangi, it observed peoples initiatives in provision of sewage disposal, water supply, schools and clinics, as well as the limitations of the response from the government. OPP decided to strengthen people's initiatives with social and technical guidance.

It is demonstrated through the programs that at the neighborhood level people can finance, manage and maintain facilities like sewerage, water supply, schools, clinics, solid waste disposal and security. Government's role is to compliment people's work with larger facilities like trunk sewers and treatment plants, water mains and water, colleges/universities, hospitals, main solid waste disposals and land fill sites.

The component-sharing concept clearly shows that where government partners with the people, sustainable development can be managed through local resources*.

+Lack of and adhoc govt. response dates back to events in 1947, the independence of Pakistan and partition of India. Govt. was not ready to respond to the huge influx of refugees. Karachi's population of 0.4 million in 1947 become 1 million in 1951. Refugees were given slips by govt. officials and told to settle in vacated spaces. These soon expanded to become unofficial settlements/Katchi Abadis. The green revolution of 1960's and the 1971 war added to influx in the cities. Unable to provide land or housing for the poor, in mid 1970's govt. accepted the unofficial settlements and decided on provision of land title and upgradation. The decision translated into ordinance provided some security, but with lack of government capacity to respond, community initiatives increased.

*This avoids the debt burden: Today Pakistan's foreign/local debt is about US $ 97 billion. More then 70% of the annual budget goes into debt servicing and defence, most of the remaining goes into the government's operational cost with only a meager amount left for development and the social sector.

Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) as an NGO began work in Orangi town in 1980. Orangi situated in the periphery of Karachi is a cluster of 113 low income settlements* with a population of 1.5 million. On the success of its five basic programs of low cost sanitation, housing, health, education and credit for micro enterprise, in 1988 OPP was upgraded into three autonomous institutions.


  • OPP-Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI) manages the low cost sanitation, housing/secure housing support program, education program, the now evolving water supply and the women's savings programs as well as the related research and training programs. Earthquake and the flood rehabilitation works are also undertaken.
  • OPP-Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP-OCT) manages the micro enterprise credit program.
  • OPP-Karachi Health and Social Development Association (OPP-KHASDA) manages the health program.

Each institution has its separate board of directors and mobilizes its own funds. Development is self financed by the people. OPP institutions provide social and technical guidance and credit for micro enterprise.

For replication OPP institutions strengthen the partner Non Government Organizations (NGOs)/ Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Government agencies (instead of setting up their own offices).

*The settlements began as katchi abadies , between 1986 to 1992 most settlements were notified i.e officially accepted by the government.

The approach is to encourage and strengthen community initiatives (with social, technical guidance and credit for micro enterprise) and evolve partnerships with the government for development based on local resource.

The methodology is action research and extension. That is analyzing outstanding problems of the area, people's initiatives, the bottlenecks in the initiatives, then through a process of action research and extension education evolving viable solutions promoting participatory action. In short developing low cost package of advice , guiding and facilitating community organizations for self help and partnership with the government.

The Low Cost Sanitation Program enables low income families to finance, manage and maintain sanitary latrines in their homes, underground sewerage lines in the lanes and secondary sewers (this constitutes internal development). Government is responsible to provide main sewers/box drains and treatment plants (i.e. external development). OPP-RTI provides social and technical guidance to both community and government facilitating partnerships. The model that has evolved from the program is the component-sharing concept of development with people and government as partners. It has evolved from a lane to the city/town. The program has extended to all of Orangi town (where 106,726 houses, have invested Rs. 122.61 million in secondary, lane sewers and sanitary latrines, with govt. investing Rs. 739.3 million on main disposals) and to 463 settlements in Karachi and 44 cities/ towns, also in 93 villages (spread mostly over the Sindh and Punjab Provinces) covering a population of more than 2 million. Together with 20 partner NGOs and a number of government organizations, the expansion of work continues. There is now city/town wide application. In 2003 the Punjab Government's SPBUS program for 21 towns adopted the component-sharing model, work on external sanitation is nearing completion, while internal development by the community supported by partner organizations continues. OPP-RTI's proposal for sewage disposal for Karachi is now the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board's (KW&SB) S-III plan for the city (approved in December 2006), implementation is under process. Karachi Municipal Corporation continues to be supported with maps and designs for the development of the main "nalas" (the sewage disposals /drainage channels) as box drains - more then 70% of these have now been developed. Additional focus in Karachi is the infrastructure development (sewage/drainage disposal and water supply provision) in the 610 goths /villages (that have fast become urban settlements). In the National Sanitation Policy approved by the government in November 2006, the component-sharing model and lessons are included as policy measures to be adopted nationwide.

Youth program continues to train more community architects, technicians and surveyors. The mapping and documentation of drainage channels and infrastructure in settlements and goths of Karachi by the youth continues, it provides the basis for expansion of work. Maps and documentation of infrastructure of 553 of the total 2,735 settlements/goths and 16 out of 18 towns of Karachi are complete, together with the mapping of most of the drainage channels in the city. A Youth Technical Network has lately evolved bringing together youths of more then 20 partner organizations to understand, learn and strengthen each other (with mapping and technical skills).

The Low Cost Housing Program enables improvements in building components and construction techniques, through action research, provision of credit and technical guidance to the building component manufacturing yards, training of youths and masons and the mobilization of house owners. Each year more than 2,500 houses in Orangi benefit.

Important development is the training of youths to become community architects as well as mobilizing and strengthening their organizations, based in Orangi and other towns, for providing housing support services to the community and technical training to other youths. Two partner organizations have evolved, one based in Orangi, with its work expanding beyond Orangi and another based in the nearby Gadap town .

The Education Program upgrades the physical condition and improves the academic standards of private schools in Orangi and five more peripheral towns of Karachi, through start up grant, credit, teacher's training and the mobilization of saving groups. 588 schools educating 79,137 children have been supported. In addition 303 more schools have been supported with credit by the OPP-OCT.

For strengthening the coming together of schools and linking up the training activity, lectures and forums are organized. The events, besides adding to their skills, have provided an opportunity to schools and teachers to come together. For strengthening the self help process of support, groups of 20-30 school owners are mobilized to come together as saving groups. Two groups continue with their savings, one group has started supporting members with credit from their savings. 3 new groups of schools in the goths have initiated their savings groups.

Three new programs have evolved in Karachi and are being extended to other places

Strengthening poor communities in the goths (villages that have fast become urban settlements) to resist evictions; acquire land tenure and infrastructure development. With the cases of fierce evictions in 2006, people's resistance was facilitated with mapping, research and advocacy. By mid 2010 there was a breakthrough, govt. approved land tenure provision for the goths of Karachi. So far 1,063 goths have been approved for land tenure, more are under process. More then 150 goths have been directly supported, while listing of the 2,173 goths, the location mapping and the detail mapping process of these goths in Gadap, Kemari and Bin Qasim towns continues. In addition is the cooperative housing saving and loan program reaching to upto 100 houses annually.

City wide research, advocacy and mapping, facilitating the poor settlements access to sweet water in Karachi. Research shows that daily 41% of the water supplied to Karachi is siphoned from the bulk mains. This is then sold for profit, supplied thru tankers b) Water supply provision (technical support) for the goths and c) The water supply provision in the villages in Battagram .

Already 42 groups have come together, with 1,371 members and Rs. 2.98 million saved. More savings groups are coming together, in Karachi and other places. Most groups have initiated loans, from the savings, for the member's emergency needs.

Following the Oct'2005 earthquake in the Northern areas of Pakistan, support for rehabilitation was initiated. In Dhirkot (AJK) and Batagram (NWFP) 3,610 houses spread over 68 villages were supported with tin sheets for roofing over a room/house with people constructing the walls. In addition 76 villages (23,810 families) were supported with pipes for the repair /replacement of water mains, while community undertook to repair/replace the distribution network. Two local organizations that evolved thru the process are now continuing with the main stream development programs.

Following the July'10 floods in Pakistan that spread 4-15 km both sides of the river Indus, that flows north to south across Pakistan, relief and rehabilitation support was initiated that continues. Thru 19 partner organizations working in villages around 2 cities and 19 towns (mostly in Sindh and Punjab provinces) support continues for 1) medicines for health centers and medical camps 2) roofing over a room/house/family 3) repair/replacement of hand pumps and 4) setting up of village schools. So far more then 99,167 patients have been treated thru the supported medical camps/centers, 13,019 houses spread over 1,183 villages have been supported with roofing while people constructed the walls/pillars of mud/bricks, 178 hand pumps for 39 villages were repaired /replaced and 18 schools have been initiated and are functional in 18 villages. In addition lately the Village Development Program has been initiated for the development of villages reached thru the rehabilitation program.

Supports the local clinics in Orangi Town set up by the people with supply of vaccines, family planning components and training of vaccinators/traditional birth attendants (TBAs). 862 clinics, 246 vaccinators and 613 TBAs have been supported. The program has lately been reorganized

The program supports small businesses set up by the people, mostly in their homes, settlements and villages. Credit for livestock and agriculture related work in villages is also provided. The program has expanded thru 68 partner NGOs to more then 40 cities/towns and about 2,198 villages (mostly in Sindh province). 210,459 units have been supported with credit of Rs. 2.96 billion with 96% recovery rate and the ratio of operational expense to loans being 7.9%. The income expenditure ratio being 163:100.

Some latest initiatives to reach the rural poor include:

15,380 women in five districts in Sindh province have been supported with credit of total Rs. 75 million for the purchase of male goats. The rearing and sale of the goats within 3-4 months helps the women to earn an average profit of Rs. 1,000/goat. With this turnover, 3 times a year, the average annual income of the women comes to Rs. 9,750. The program is being extended thru partner organizations.

It was observed in the villages in Khairpur Sindh that the poorest make reed mats and sell it to the middle man at only Rs.20/piece, with an average earning of Rs. 6,000/family/month (i.e cost of about 300 mats). The mats when sold in July/Aug (the peak date farming season) can fetch upto Rs. 80/mat. OPP-OCT provided small loans of Rs. 10,000/family to facilitate their holding capacity (i.e using the amount for their subsistence and selling the product at the peak season). Total 780 families were supported with Rs. 7 million credit. Due to holding the mats for 6-7 months the middle man had to increase the price to Rs. 50-80/mat. Process is in progress to expand the program.

The program has evolved partnerships for expansion and influencing policies. An example is the formation of the "Micro finance organizations network" for training and strengthening of member organizations.

Support for the flood affected families, focusing on livelihoods (livestock/agricultural input including promotion of crops like oil seeds/sunflower) is ongoing.

Institution building has been an important focus of our work. Four networks are strengthening the process. 1) The Community Development Network, a coming together of more than 80 partner NGOs, and more than 3,000 CBOs (mostly from the Sindh and Punjab provinces) facilitates the organizational strengthening, mutual support, learning and policy advocacy. 2) The Youth Technical Network 3) The Women's Savings Groups Network likewise strengthens the process of work and 4) The Micro finance organizations network.

  • Emergence of people, NGO/CBO and government partnerships at the neighborhood/ town/city levels focusing on local resources.
  • Institutional development of many NGOs/CBOs in Orangi Town, Karachi, more then 80 other cities/towns and in thousands of villages.
  • Trends in government and policy level breakthroughs, while focusing on : a) addressing the problems of the poor with participation b) shifting policy from pure provider to sharing responsibilities c) accepting peoples development initiatives and complimenting these and d) mobilizing local resources

  • Government's inconsistency leading to adhoc planning.
  • Peoples lack of access to information.
  • NGOs incapacity to support people's initiatives and the OPP institutions incapacity to respond to large numbers of requests for support.
  • Peoples lack of confidence in their initiatives due to the psychological barrier of dependency.
  • Professional's arrogance.
  • Donor programs of patronage, perks and benefits.



Orangi Pilot Project - Research and Training Institute. 

ST-4, Sec 5/A, Qasba colony, Manghopir Road, Karachi-75800. For OPP-RTI: ph: 021-38294679 e-mail: opprti.ngo@gmail.com Website: oppinstitutions.org

For OPP-OCT 021-36665696 e-mail: oppoct@oppoct.org Website: oppoct-microcredit.com For OPP-KHASDA: ph: 021-6699354 e-mail: oppkhasda.health@gmail.com