The power of information and money

Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, Orangi, Karachi, Pakistan

SDG 1: No povertySDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 8: Decent work and economic growthSDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
In some cities in Asia and Africa, as well as parts Latin America, up to 60% of the population live in informal settlements on land that does not belong to them. The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights was founded in 1986 with the main goal to stop evictions from these settlements. Today, the organisation is a cooperation between Asian professionals, NGOs and community organisations committed to find long term solutions to underlying causes of the creation of informal settlements and forced evictions. Many of the projects involve slum- upgrading, creating safe and productive public spaces, stopping evictions and favouring equal rights.

In Pakistan, many urban problems must be addressed by the communities themselves. As 40% of the national budget goes into servicing the country’s debts, 40% to the mili-tary and 15% is used to run the government, only 5% of the budget is for the country’s physical and social development. In order to transform the situation, communities have to organise themselves. They have to raise money, gather information and share knowledge at a local level, and many local organisations, initiatives and projects have emerged to solve their city’s challenges.

Good practices & solutions

In Karachi, initiatives like the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) have helped poor communities to systematize self- sufficiency so successfully that their work has almost reached national policy. Over 2 million USD were raised, which permitted more than 150,000 households to build toilets, and underground sewers and water supply systems could be provided in the informal settlement. This was achieved through a self-help approach, and public-private partnership with the municipality. The OPP provided technical support and the government connected the community-built sewers to the city’s base sewer system.

Outcome & opportunities

Sometimes local organisations cannot wait for the government to initiate the devel-opment needed in the community. In this case, the locality came together, shared in-formation and experience, came up with a great solution and managed to influence the municipality. This was a grassroot initiative successfully collecting community sav-ings to implement a solution vital for their community. It is clear that money and in-formation are a community’s best assets to implement change.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The most important lesson learned is that unless the locality is an organised community, no single NGO or government will help solve the local challenges. So, a first step is mobilising the community. Additionally, if grassroots initiatives work with the 10% of the most vulnerable in the city, is the urban poor, the work will benefit the whole city.

Related SDG targets’
  • 1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters
  • 1.6 Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions
  • 1.7 Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, shopping centre- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources
  • 17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
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Project: Urban Girls Movement