Large scale migration from the country’s rural areas to big cities for better access to basic services and employment opportunities without proper urban planning has caused rapid urbanisation while at the same time adversely affecting the standard of living in the mega cities.
In developed countries, cities are the engines of economic growth, innovations and entrepreneurship. But in Pakistan, the huge flow of migration, because of multiple factors, has turned cities into hotbeds of discontent because of overpopulation.
The massive urbanisation poses a challenge for policymakers to cater to the basic needs of thickly populated urban centres. A majority, if not all, urban areas are faced with air and noise pollution, water, sanitation, lack of proper sewerage and waste disposal mechanism and transport issues.
The urbanisation challenge seeks serious attention of policymakers to strike balance between the industrial growth and basic needs of the residents. Similarly, the agriculture sector which dominated the country's economy for decades should also be focused on sustainable growth and food security.
Over the years, unplanned urbanisation has posed several challenges by creating urban slums and environmental degradation. Therefore, urbanisation seeks well-conceived policies for ensuring the provision of basic amenities of life to the growing population.
According to United Nations Development Programme data, 36.4 per cent of Pakistan’s population is in the urban areas, which is the highest urbanisation rate in South Asia. It is estimated that after 2025, more than half of the population in Pakistan would be living in cities.
This issue can be addressed with indigenous solutions, sustainable policies, effective implementation and evaluation by ensuring transparency, social justice, participation, efficiency and accountability.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics official spokesperson Attiqur Rehman told the last census was conducted in March 2017 and the provisional results published. The Pakistan Demographic Survey report would be published till July 2021, he added.
Islamabad-based journalist Sophia Siddique stated the cities had expanded in almost all directions with massive population growth without appropriate planning. She said that the government had to initiate a policy to facilitate people of rural areas to curb urbanisation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2021.