Karachi:The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan, in collaboration with the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), has initiated a pilot study on urban resilience for Karachi’s informal communities of Azam Basti and Rehri Goth.
The project seeks to strengthen the inclusion and resilience of migrants, displaced people and host communities in informal urban settlements across four dimensions: livelihoods, participatory urban planning and development, social cohesion and climate change adaptation.
As part of this study, a Challenge Cup was held in Karachi to identify innovative community solutions to urban resilience challenges. The Challenge Cup – the second of two in a series — followed a competition-based process with the participation of the residents of Rehri Goth and Azam Basti. The themes aligned with the competition were water sanitation, education, women’s employment and livelihood, environment, and basic amenities and services. The adjudication panel comprised UNDP Policy Analyst Umer Malik, Programme Manager Azfar Hussain, former MNA and consultant UNICEF Saman Jafri and consultant for Meta Hira Malik.
A panel talk was also organised at the event by the implementing partner, Concepts Unlimited, which included Aqsa Javed of the IBA, Zehra Mehdi of K-Electric and Nadeem Sheikh of the World Wide Fund Pakistan. The panel explored the problems faced by the informal settlements in Karachi and how they could be addressed through community ownership and the active participation of all relevant stakeholders.
A day prior to the event, a rigorous boot camp was also conducted to refine the ideas and model them with reference to sustainability, social impact, inclusion and community initiatives. Mentors were invited to aid the boot camp, including Parhao Sabaq and Learning Bite CEO Adeil Durvesh, Stimulus Hira Wajahat, Educationist Huma Jabeen and trainer and coach Social Enterprises Sadeed Mirza.
Assistant Resident Representative UNDP Pakistan Ammara Durrani in her address emphasised the importance of innovation in bolstering urban resilience in Pakistan. Executive Director IBA Karachi Dr S Akbar Zaidi, who is the lead investigator of the UNDP-IBA research study, highlighted the role of data-driven approaches in development studies and policy initiatives and the critical role played by academic institutions to achieve it. Programme Director Ghulam Mohiuddin Asim appreciated the collaboration of UNDP, IBA and the government of Sindh on this project. He was particularly impressed by the community’s eagerness to do well for their neighborhoods and their willingness to spend personal time and energy on improving their surroundings.
The themes for the first and second Challenge Cup were informed by research work carried out by the IBA Karachi and UNDP Pakistan in the informal settlements of Rehri Goth and Azam Basti. The Challenge Cup would itself prove pivotal towards enhancing the quality of life in these settlements. This would specifically contribute toward developing social cohesion, economic independence and urban resilience in some of Karachi’s most deserving informal communities, with the aim to shape the way forward for future interventions.