Approximately half of Pakistan’s urban population lives in unplanned squatter settlements that lack electricity, clean water and sanitation. Residents are required to pay considerable amounts in rent despite the deplorable conditions. And, without legal title to the land they live on, they can be evicted at any time and hold no economic collateral that could be used to gain access to formal credit markets. Land speculation has led to artificial price increases, making homes even more unaffordable.
Saiban has built KKB-4, a 20-acre project outside Lahore that provides former slum dwellers with home ownership, secure residential tenure, social services such as schooling and health care, and public utilities like electricity and running water. Houses are built in blocks around a green common space to encourage a sense of community and promote interaction among neighbors.
At KKB-4, 75 percent of the plots are sold at or near cost to families earning between 170 to 345 Pakistani rupees a day ($2 to 4 USD). The remaining 25 percent of plots are sold on the open market, cross-subsidizing the entire development. Speculation is prevented through a screening requirement and a stipulation that families occupy the land within short timeframes.
For the last 20 years, Saiban’s Tasneem Siddiqui has been testing the approach so that it can be replicated throughout Pakistan. One of Saiban’s earlier projects – KKB-3, outside of Karachi – is now a thriving community of 30,000 people.
KKB-4 is bringing together a community of residents that transcends background and religion. More than 70 percent of the houses, all with electricity and sanitation, have been sold. Two schools and a mosque are active, small shops have sprung up, and parks and football pitches teem with children in the afternoons. When fully occupied, the community will be occupied by approximately 450 low-income families, or 2,000 people.
Saiban repaid Acumen’s investment in 2011.