Heavy rains have made a huge impact on the normal routine and business activities in Karachi affecting the whole economy of the country, mainly due to the collapse of its drainage and sewerage system, which has not been maintained for decades.
Though the drainage system has been there mainly for the rainwater but due to encroachment, dumping of solid waste and less maintenance, the entire sewerage system was non-functional.
According to the World Bank’s report, the sewerage network of the city has had very little maintenance since the 1960s.
Regular flooding occurs during the annual monsoon season due to the poorly maintained and clogged drainage system. Air pollution is one of the most severe environmental problems. Environmental pollution has a high cost to public health, up to 7 percent of Sindh province’s GDP, the report said.
The three existing wastewater treatment plants are dysfunctional. Additionally, the separation of municipal wastewater from industrial effluent is not a common practice. Two of the biggest industrial estates in Pakistan, both located in Karachi, have no effluent treatment plant, and the waste—containing hazardous materials, heavy metals, oil, and so on—is discharged into Karachi’s rivers and the already polluted harbor, it added.
Densely Populated City
Karachi is very dense, with more than 20,000 persons per square kilometer.
Less than 60 percent of the population has access to public sewerage, and almost all raw sewage is discharged untreated into the sea, along with hazardous and industrial effluent. Less than half of estimated solid waste is collected and transported to open dumpsites, resulting in a major public health hazard.
The city’s population has grown from just under 10 million in 1998 to 16 million in 2017, per official data. The population is over 25 million at present. As a result, the city’s livability quality remains low, and Karachi is ranked as one of the least livable major cities in the world.
The perennial shortage of housing in the city also continues to worsen, with at least 50 percent of the population living in informal settlements of varying quality.
Unclear roles, overlapping functions, and poor coordination among various agencies responsible for city governance and management have worsened the city’s problems. Municipal and city development functions are highly fragmented, with roughly 20 agencies across federal, provincial, and local levels performing these functions, leading to a lack of coordinated planning and integration at the city level. These agencies also control nearly 90 percent of the land in Karachi, but are reluctant to make it available for development.
Karachi is ranked among the bottom 10 cities in the Global Livability Index.
Karachi needs around $9 to 10 billion of financing over a ten-year period to meet its infrastructure and service delivery needs in urban transport, water supply and sanitation and municipal solid waste, according to the report on Transforming Karachi into a Livable and Competitive Megacity– a City Diagnostic and Transformation Strategy.