Neha Patil (Editor)

Khuda Ki Basti (Karachi)

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Khuda Ki Basti (Urdu: خدا کی بستی‎; KKB) is one of the neighbourhoods of Gadap Town in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.


There are several ethnic groups in Khuda Ki Basti including Muhajirs, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Seraikis, Pakhtuns, Balochis, Memons, Bohras, Ismailis, etc.


This housing scheme was initiated by the former director general of the Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA) in 1986. Restrictive governmental process — such as allotment procedures, allocation of loan against land mortgage or land/property ownership provision for speculative purposes — were replaced with unconventional and innovative approaches.

Some examples include targeting needy households; simplification of bureaucratic procedures; optimizing choice of relocation; providing urban basic services incrementally through community involvement; providing housing credit facilities to every household; creating direct rapport with the communities; and periodically monitoring the development process.

KKB, the first incremental housing scheme, was developed at Gulshan-e-Shahbaz near Hyderabad and has since been followed by four similar schemes in Sindh Province including Karachi. This innovative approach of incremental housing by HDA has proved itself to be a viable alternative to the public sector's attempts to provide housing for urban poor. It represents a change in the World Bank-administered sites and services housing programmes by allocating the service provisions in increments according to the land holder's need and their ability to pay.


Khuda-Ki-Basti (KKB) or "God's Settlement" is a new experiment in low-income housing projects. The KKB project was developed in Hyderabad as a part of the large Gulshan-e-Shahbaz Scheme by Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA). The main scheme was a conventional sites and services scheme, where serviced plots were provided at the expense of a large public capital. Most of these plots are lying vacant, while in KKB low-income people have progressively constructed their houses on self-help basis and provided basic utility services, through community participation on an incremental basis. Thus, the success of KKB provides evidence in favour of the idea that incrementally developing houses and housing services offer the most cost-effective and affordable option of developing lively habitats for the urban poor.

Another important element of the KKB project is that it encourages, rather induces, people to undertake immediate construction of houses. In conventional sites and services schemes colossal amounts of public money is wasted by the degeneration of facilities not used for decades because the plots are used as safe investments and are sold and resold many times before final construction of houses takes place. Conventional public housing as well as sites and services schemes are unaffordable for the low-income group owing to high transportation costs to centres of employment, the enforcement of building standards and the high costs of infrastructure. In the past three decades, local authorities in Pakistan have developed a large number of sites-and-services schemes, but they have been unable to reach those most in need of shelter. A UN document (UNCHS, 1991) summarized the KKB project as follows:

Description of the Project

In an attempt to reach the lowest income groups in Hyderabad, HDA launched an incremental development scheme. The scheme is based on the idea that people should settle before houses and infrastructure are constructed and that, once settled, they can develop their housing and the infrastructure incrementally, as and when they have the resources. The incremental development scheme in Hyderabad imitates the approach followed by the illegal subdividers: it is characterized by ease of entry, immediate delivery of the plot and incremental development of the houses and the infrastructure. HDA initially recruited illegal subdividers to assist the agency in the identification and settling of low income families in the incremental development scheme.

The scheme, KKB provides initially only 80 square yard plots and water supply through water tankers. HDA requires a low income family in need of shelter to spend, initially, two weeks in a reception area to prove its urgent need for shelter. Then, the HDA allocates a plot upon the payment of Rs.1000 (US$30) which covers the full cost of the plot. The family has to live on the plot permanently. The plot is repossessed if found unoccupied; this reduces absentee ownership and speculation. HDA does not set any standards for housing, and this enables the allottees to build their houses according to their individual needs and resources. Once settled, the allottee is urged to make regular payments into a neighbourhood account, so that the provision of infrastructure can be financed, once sufficient funds have been accumulated. This eliminates the need for cost recovery.

A disadvantage of KKB is its location, about half an hour from the city of Hyderabad by public transport. The industrial zone of the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate is not far away, but the project's low income families, who earned their daily income mainly from informal-sector activities in Hyderabad, faced quite some hardship when they settled in KKB. Furthermore, residents of KKB had to travel regularly to Hyderabad in the initial phase of the scheme, when the settlement did not have many shops and public services; this made transport one of the costliest items in their budget. Fortunately, conditions are gradually improving, with the settlement of more households and the growth of the commercial and small industry sector.

Although there is need for improvement of the approach, the results of the first three years of the incremental development scheme are quite encouraging. Some 2800 families have settled in KKB and many have been able to construct semi-permanent houses. In those blocks which have been able to develop a strong community organization, water supply, a sewer system and electricity are already available. Other blocks have, however, not been able to develop any infrastructure, owing to a lack of leadership: if they can not manage soon to acquire some basic infrastructure without an up-front payment and re-introduce the need for cost recovery.

It is essential for the success of the scheme that the population be organized at block level and be urged to make regular payments into the block account for infrastructure. An agency, such as the HDA does not have the capacity to develop and organize communities, and to train local leaders. Therefore, for the success of such a scheme, it would probably be best to settle existing low income communities, rather than individual families, or to organize communities before settlement. This would imply the following sequence of settlement:


Once the allottees have been settled, the housing agency could hand over the scheme to a non-governmental organization (NGO) and the NGO could organize the communities, train leaders, assist the population to save money for infrastructure and advise the community to construct the infrastructure on a self-help basis, as is being done in the Orangi Pilot Project, Karachi.

Impact and assessment of the project

An evaluation of KKB Project was carried out by Dr. Jan van der Linden in 1993. The highlights of this evaluation are presented below:

Specific features of HDA's approach in KKB have been:

  1. Its selective adopting of methods which have proven successful in informal land supply system;
  2. The flexibility in the approach; and
  3. Several attempts to organize the inhabitants of the scheme.

Although it is not possible to reconstruct all financial details of the creation and running of KKB, it appears that the scheme is financially viable, while importantly, it does not entail major financial outlays, nor risks, on the executing agency's part.

The evaluation's aim is to find answers to a number of questions requiring attention if replication of KKB is considered. More in particular, the following subjects have been considered:

  • The performance of the targeting strategy;
  • The degree to which the approach encourages urbanization;
  • The performance of physical design criteria;
  • The affordability, both to the target group and the executing agency;
  • The potential of mechanisms to enhance community organizations;
  • Staff requirements;
  • The division of roles between the actors involved.
  • For the investigation, use was made of written reports and statements. Besides, a survey was carried out among a sample of KKB's residents and a number of interviews were taken from different actors involved.

    The performance of the targeting strategy;

    By 1993, over 35% of the inhabitants had obtained their plots from actors other than HDA. Also about 35% have passed through the reception area.

    A large majority of the inhabitants support cancellation of vacant plots/houses, at least in the initial stages of the settlement. People's support for the concept of the reception area is also high, although complaints were voiced about the way it was executed. It appeared that this procedure has been particularly prone to misuse.

    From the instruments used in KKB for the sake of targeting, some appear to be absolutely indispensable, viz.: a) the incremental nature of the scheme; b) the continuous availability of plot; c) the issuing of dwelling permits only, so that vacant houses/plots can be cancelled; and d) a simple, one-window bureaucratic procedure, to be performed on the spot. On the other hand, for all its merits, the reception areas as a sieve to select genuine applicants would under average conditions be too prone to misuse.

    The degree to which the approach encourages urbanization

    The data obtained in KKB bear out very clearly that there is no question of KKB having stimulated rural urban migration.

    Performance of Physical Design Criteria

    As regards the physical design, a somewhat less liberal use of land especially for open grounds should be considered. Smaller building blocks and the introductions of semi public space might enhance community cohesion. Expert advice should be sought for the design of a sewerage system.

    Affordability both to the target group and the executing agency

    The affordability of the housing option offered in KKB to very poor households is beyond any doubt, while it is difficult to think of options which are cheaper and less risky to the executing agency.

    The potential of mechanisms to enhance community organizations

    Ways to enhance community representations and accountability of the executing team.

    Community organization can come about only from within the community itself. Outside agencies can at most try and create optimal conditions for this and provide assistance or advice. Such conditions include good access to the executing agency, unambiguous and full information on financial matters, on rights and duties of the different actors etc. Secondly, as suggested above, some design characteristics could perhaps enhance community cohesion. NGOs can provide assistance or advice, but should never try to organize for the population, nor handle their money.

    Staff Requirements

    As regards the administration of a project along the lines of KKB, a rule of thumb is that the very approach implies that a major part of the management burden is shifted away from the executing agency to the users of the project. Accordingly, staff requirements should be modest. At the same time, the remaining tasks for the executing agency should be performed as well and as efficiently as is possible. For the design, the inputs form a professional planner, a civil engineer and a financial expert are indispensable during the planning phase, while they would have a supervisory/controlling role during execution. For the issuing and registration/cancelling of plots, the regular presence in a site office of an officer conversant with administrative and accounting tasks is required until some time after all plots have been occupied.

    The division of roles among the actors involved

    Major actors are the public sector and the inhabitants of a housing scheme; other actors, such as the private sector and NGOs have a specific, secondary role, under average conditions, there probably is no role for the dallal', in a replication scheme.

    Now after a period of 8 years, around 2800 plots have been allotted and the population is about 18,000 persons. Five doctors provide health services along with permanent health care unit of Family Planning Association of Pakistan. Private buses ply every 30 minutes. There are 110 shops to serve the daily need of the population. More than 247 carpet looms provide jobs to at least 600 persons. In 8 years residents have collected and spent some 5.0 million rupees in water supply, sewerage and electrification in the Basti. Presently every house has electricity and indoor water supply. Over 2000 houses have already been built. The most important fact is that the allottees have occupied their plots and they live there as they built their houses. Nearly all families started with reed-huts and within a short period all houses have been converted into permanent structures. However, majority of the roofs are still not weather proof.

    Income generating schemes, which are mostly family enterprise, have also been started in the scheme by arranging loans between Rs.2500-25000 (US$75–750) without any collateral. Within the last 4 years Rs.900000 (US$27270) have been disbursed to 70 applicants. The family enterprises have provided regular income to some 150 families, one third being single parent female-headed.

    The scheme has shown that housing activity can very easily be used as a starting point for an overall community development process. All other social sector activities like primary education, immunization, family planning, social forestry and much needed credit for economic prosperity can be successfully dovetailed once the community is organized.

    The KKB experiment has shown that even without bringing about basic changes in the power structure of the society, without changing the unequal relationship between government and the slum dwellers and even without any definite programme in favour of the 'wratched of the earth', development agencies can successfully assume the role of 'informal' sector as its strategy is perhaps the only answer to provide shelter to the urban poor at the present time.

    1. 2800 low-income families or a population of about 18000 obtained shelter through self-help and incremental development.
    2. Government agency's role changed to that of a facilitator and supporter of a shelter programme.
    3. The low-income families organized themselves to develop infrastructure incrementally without obtaining loans from conventional financial organizations.
    4. About 3000 low-income plots saved from land speculators and land grabbers.
    5. About 600 jobs created in the cottage industry (carpet looms) developed in the houses of KKB.

    Khuda-Ki-Basti (KKB) is a sustainable project because it is based on the principles of full cost recovery, affordability for low-income people, public participation, incremental development of houses and infrastructure, public private partnership, and community organization. It replicates the methods used by squatters in the development of squatter settlements, yet it is successful in developing a legal, planned and healthy residential environment for low-income people. While the conventional public housing schemes and even sites and services have proved to be unaffordable for low-income people, the KKB has been successful in providing affordable shelter to the urban poor. The main feature of the KKB is its incremental development approach applied on a self-help basis. This approach effectively reduces the cost of development of houses and infrastructure and eliminates the problems of cost recovery. Since the project induces the people to take up immediate construction of their houses, the practice of land speculation is avoided. One of the major achievements of KKB is the organization of low income communities which becomes an asset for the future maintenance and sustenance of the infrastructure developed on self-help basis. More projection the KKB model can bring positive change in the role of public sector, which should act as facilitator and supporter of the low-income housing efforts rather than provider.


    Khuda Ki Basti (Karachi) Wikipedia

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