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Pakistan Heeds Call to Make its Cities More Inclusive

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Pakistan is rapidly urbanizing with 36% of its 193 million population living in cities as of now. Most of the unplanned urban expansion is happening in shape of slums. A rising class of urban poor resides in informal settlements and do not have access to essential services. This implies that Pakistan cities are not growing ‘inclusively’ and the benefits of local economic development are not shared fairly.

This hanging nature of poverty necessitates for cities to consider ‘inclusive’ growth and economic development models that address the needs of the vulnerable groups, especially women and children. As envisaged in the “Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” coordinated efforts between the government, private sector and civil society are needed to address this challenge in Pakistan.

Responding to this call, twenty representatives from urban agencies, provincial and local governments, civil society and the private sector from four provinces attended the two-day Inclusive Cities Training Workshop. The event was organized by CDIA in partnership with Oxfam and GIZ last 20-21 September 2016 in Islamabad, Pakistan.

With various hands-on case studies and interactive exercises, the course focused specifically on how to make cities economically competitive, manage the informal economy, support pro-poor infrastructure and streamline government regulations.

“The focus of development aid is now shifting to urban poor, which is a good sign,” said Abbottabad City Mayor Sher Bahadur Khan Sardar during the reception dinner. “It is imperative to engage local governments and city administration to improve the condition of people living in cities,” he added.

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Abbottabad, along with Peshawar and Mardan are three cities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province that have been selected to get technical support on inclusive growth measures by CDIA. The support is expected to start in the coming months, and will lead to inclusion in the Intermediate Cities Investment Improvement Program (KP-ICIIP) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2018.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Ernst, First Secretary of German Embassy underscored the success of CDIA. To date, the initiative has supported 111 cities in Asia by conducting prioritization exercises, and project development studies that are expected to lead to infrastructure investments worth more than USD 5 Billion. Ten pre-feasibility studies have been completed in Pakistani cities, and new city interventions will start in KP Province soon.

Mohammed Qazilbash, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan emphasized that “urbanization has been phenomenal and by 2025, more people will be living in urban areas than rural areas” For him, this means, “more services and livelihood opportunities are needed.”

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