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Factsheet March 30, 2021

Fact Sheet: World Bank's Engagement in Karachi

Why is the World Bank engaged in Karachi?

Karachi is Pakistan’s economic hub. For Pakistan to reach its potential, Karachi aims to become a more livable, inclusive and competitive city. Unfortunately, Karachi currently ranks among the bottom 10 cities in the world in terms of livability, according to the 2019 Global Livability Index. Metro Karachi performs poorly on all indicators of municipal services and on all dimensions of livability, health, environment, safety and education.

Transforming Karachi into a Livable and Competitive Megacity, a World Bank diagnostic report published in 2017, estimated that US$10 billion in capital investments were needed to bridge key infrastructure gaps and to improve the region’s economic potential. Yet, consultations on the report made it clear that capital investments alone would not be sufficient to address the challenges, but that a shared vision of transformation and long-term commitments from the government and the citizens would be required to achieve the scale of the change needed.

Toward this end, the World Bank worked with all levels of government, residents and businesses in Karachi crafting principles of cooperative governance and a long-term roadmap to a more livable, inclusive, resilient and productive megacity, to which the government, the World Bank and other partners could jointly contribute.

What are the challenges facing Karachi?

Residents and businesses of Karachi are witnessing a city unable to keep pace with its physical growth, or to equitably meet the basic needs of residents and local businesses. Water and sewage networks, for instance, meet only roughly half of the city’s needs. As a result, water is available for only a few hours per day. Most sewage is discharged into the ocean untreated. More than 60 percent of solid waste is openly dumped, with dramatic impacts on drainage and urban environment.  The gap in affordable housing is acute, with an estimated 50 percent of the city residents forced to live in informal settlements. Streets and public spaces, which directly support the livelihood of many of Karachi’s residents, have been progressively disappearing. Karachi’s infrastructure is highly vulnerable to climate-related disasters. Poor residents suffer the most from these challenges.  Fragmented city management has led to ineffective institutions, with little coordination among them, leading to insufficient planning and investments, and declining public confidence.

What projects does the World Bank finance in Karachi?

The World Bank’s current financing package of $838 million is for investments in water supply, sewerage, public transport, public spaces, urban governance and solid waste management interventions. These investments are expected to benefit 5.6 million people in Karachi, equivalent to a third of its population. The projects under implementation will adhere to World Bank policies as spelled out in the financing agreements. Additionally, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are also financing investments in public transport, water supply and sewerage.

The World Bank’s renewed involvement in Karachi started with the Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project (KNIP) in 2017. KNIP’s goal is to improve public spaces in selected neighborhoods. Following consultation with more than 1,500 local residents, business owners, faculty and students of surrounding universities, community leaders and elected officials, KNIP has to date built or rehabilitated 39 hectares of public spaces in Saddar, Malir and Korangi. In Saddar, KNIP transformed the Arts Council and four adjoining streets into a vibrant destination anchored by the newly inaugurated People’s Square (adjacent to Burns Garden). The 10,000-square meter space was transformed from a side street used for bus parking, into a pedestrian plaza with vendor kiosks, art and performance spaces, and underground parking. The works completed so far are benefitting an estimated 362,000 people who live, work and study nearby.  

The Competitive and Livable City of Karachi (CLICK) Project is working to strengthen the performance of local councils to increase citizen engagement and gender-responsive planning, to expand and sustain service delivery, and promote transparent and efficient resource utilization. The project aims to reach over 3 million people through improved access to infrastructure and services.

The Karachi Mobility Project (KMP) aims to improve mobility, accessibility and safety along selected corridors in Karachi. KMP will finance urban road infrastructure along the Yellow Corridor. It will improve access to jobs, mobility, and safety through a Bus Rapid Transit system along the 21-km Yellow Corridor. A key focus area of the project is to provide safe and secure transport for women’s mobility. The corridor starts at Dawood Chowrangi in the east, runs through the Korangi industrial area, and ends in Numaish at the city center. It is one of five priority lines in the city’s transport plan and will benefit commuters along Surjani town and Korangi industrial area. The project will reduce travel time, road traffic fatalities, and reduce emissions.

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP) is the first in a planned series of projects to improve access to safe water services in Karachi and to increase Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s financial and operational performance. This first project includes basic infrastructure and support for the reform plan of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

The Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency Project (SWEEP) aims to improve solid waste collection, transportation and disposal: one of the most acute service needs and a top priority for Karachi residents. By reducing the volume of waste openly dumped in Karachi, SWEEP will improve public health conditions and overall livability, as well as reduce urban flooding and environmental degradation risks linked to inadequate handling of solid waste. SWEEP became effective on March 2, 2021.

Is the Anti-Encroachment Drive happening in World Bank-financed projects?

No. The anti-encroachment drive taking place since 2018 is not being done under any World Bank-financed operations in any part of the city. The Bank-financed projects under implementation in Karachi will not finance any activity/intervention in areas that have been affected by anti-encroachment drives.

There have been no forced evictions or demolitions in any of the sites of World Bank-financed projects in Karachi.  In accordance with financing agreements with the Government of Pakistan and Government of Sindh, World Bank financing cannot be used for any activities in areas that have been impacted by the anti-encroachment drive. All World Bank-financed operations in Karachi must be designed and implemented in accordance with the principles and requirements of the World Bank’s policies on involuntary resettlement. These are articulated in Environmental and Social Standard 5 (ESS5) of the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) and its predecessor Operational Policy 4.12.

Environmental and Social Standard 5 (ESS5) of the ESF on “Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement” states that the borrower (in this case, Pakistan) will not resort to forced evictions. The exercise of eminent domain, compulsory acquisition or similar powers should comply with the national law and ESS5 and be conducted in a manner consistent with basic principles of due process, including provision of adequate advance notice, meaningful opportunities to lodge grievances and appeals, avoidance of the use of unnecessary, disproportionate or excessive force, and provision of full compensation and other assistance to help those affected by such acquisition to improve, or at least to restore their incomes and standards of living.

ESS5 also requires that resettlement activities are planned and implemented with appropriate disclosure of information, meaningful consultation, and informed participation of affected persons. According to the eligibility classification in ESS5, affected persons may be persons who: have formal legal rights to land or assets; do not have formal legal rights to land or assets, but have a claim to land or assets that is recognized or recognizable under national law; or, have no recognizable legal right or claim to the land or assets they occupy or use.

The World Bank is committed to these principles in Karachi and globally and any involuntary resettlement under Bank financed projects must be strictly in accordance with applicable World Bank policy and standards. Environmental and social management and resettlement frameworks have been prepared in line with these principles for all World Bank-supported projects in Karachi and any social and environmental and resettlement impacts must be addressed accordingly.

The current anti-encroachment activities, while not linked to World Bank-financed projects, are a matter of great concern for all. As noted, areas where World Bank-financed activities are taking place are subject to World Bank policy and are required to be free of impacts of the anti-encroachment drive. In addition, the World Bank is currently in dialogue with the Government of Sindh, the City Administration’s Office and the Federal Government to encourage the government to develop a city-wide framework for resettlement and rehabilitation issues in Karachi that is in line with international standards. This would be a critical and absolutely necessary step forward for Karachi. The World Bank has offered to share relevant international experience to support the development of such framework. The World Bank is also committed to supporting the development of a socially inclusive approach for addressing issues pertaining to the street economy. In this regard, the World Bank has supported local research to develop an understanding of the dynamics of the street economy in Karachi.

The World Bank values feedback from and engagement with all stakeholders in the city and welcomes opportunities to work with both the Government of Sindh and civil society in furthering and strengthening an inclusive development agenda for the city of Karachi.

Last Updated: Nov 03, 2021