Public Opinion

Pakistan and the issue of ‘Homelessness’

Pakistan government had announced a shelter initiative to build homes for those without one, but the project is yet to come into fruition.

It could be years before the project is executed, and by that time millions more will find themselves without a home, as has happened during recent unprecedented monsoon rains.

Pakistan is not one of the largest countries in the world – it doesn’t rank in the top 10 by landmass – and yet it has the fifth largest population in the world. There are more than 220,000,000 people living in the country, although due to the high refugee rate from neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, the actual number of people living in Pakistan could be much higher

Despite its large population and reputation as one of the fastest urbanizing countries in South Asia, it is not a rich country. It’s clear from the fact that around 35% of the entire population (77,000,000 people) are living below the poverty line, with many of them unable to support their own basic needs. It’s estimated that there are around 20 million homeless people in Pakistan. That’s around 9% of the total population. Most of them are living in temporary accommodation, refuges, slums, or on the street. In fact, over 40% of the population of Karachi, Pakistan’s financial capital city, are living in slums. That’s approximately 5.9 million people. In addition to that, around 200,000 people are thought to sleep on the streets.

With limited access to education, the chances of finding a skilled, well-paying job are low. This further perpetuates the risk of living in poverty, especially if the male bread-earner dies and leaves his family destitute as is so often the case.

Pakistan is a country that is particularly prone to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. With ongoing droughts, cyclones, floods, and rising temperatures, millions more could lose their homes; especially those who live in slums and unstable housing.

For those who are living on the streets, their chances of survival in intense summer heat and sweeping cyclones is low, making it all the more important we get vulnerable people into suitable housing where they can protect themselves from the increasingly more volatile elements.

The government in Pakistan had announced a shelter initiative to build homes for those without one, but due to the pandemic, and later the torrential rains and floods, the project is yet to come into fruition. It could be years before the project is launched, by which time millions more will find themselves without a home, as has happened owing to recent unprecedented monsoon rains that collapsed tens of thousands of houses in Sindh and Balochistan.

Bisma Narejo

Karachi Sindh

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