islamabad - The myth of prosperity and a lot of opportunities in largest cities proved wide of the mark as a report revealed that poverty in urban areas was a major and visible phenomenon and six out of 10 major cities have double-digit poverty figures.
According to the report titled “Sate of Pakistani Cities” launched here by the Ministry of Climate Change and UN-Habitat with the support of the Australian government, poverty was an all-time high in Quetta with 46 percent and Islamabad figuring in the lowest with three percent poverty.
The report has shed light on the current state of development in 10 largest cities while taking into account the state of the economy, social service delivery, planning and development, housing, environment and heritage.
The report quoting figures from the 2017 census results said that 75 million people live in urban areas with 54 percent of the total population living in 10 cities of Pakistan.
The report said that larger cities have seen enormous urban sprawl due to an increase in the population and change in land use in downtown as well as in the periphery of the cities which are becoming an extended part of the cities.
Pakistan generates 95 percent of its total federal tax revenue from its 10 major cities with Karachi contributing 55 percent, Islamabad 16 percent and Lahore 15 percent. The average urban per capita income in Pakistan, among the ten cities, varies from Rs37,000 to Rs70,000, said the report.
According to it, access to clean drinking water continues to be a major problem in Pakistani cities with only 65.2 percent of households including 39 percent in 10 major cities having access to piped water.
The cities lack sewage treatment and solid waste management facilities, which lead to severe environmental pollution and contamination of surface and groundwater resources.
“The increasing urbanization has created pressing demands for housing in cities. The absence of any formal provision for the low-income urban population and the people migrating from rural areas to urban areas has resulted in the creation of large informal settlements, lacking access to an adequate level of services,” it said.
The report has also featured the data gap in the urban sector as one of the key limitations for sustainable development. The report had emphasized that Pakistani cities need better planning and management to meet the needs and demands of the citizens. “To prosper, cities need to be more responsive towards the environment and adopt technologies and economies that are less wasteful and destructive,” it said.
Talking at the launch of the report, Caretaker Minister for Climate Change, Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh reiterated the government’s commitment to formulate national and provincial urban policies through the participatory approach to arrive at viable solutions for climate-resilient urban development and support measures to implement the SDGs for inclusive, safe and resilient cities.
“The report provides the basis for continued collaborative action to develop common and consistent actions, policies and strategies which will ensure that the outcomes are pragmatic and reflect the ground realities across the country”, he said.