By: Syed Sayef Hussain

When we talk about housing issues, we tend to keep our attentions limited only to urban areas, and forget the rural areas and hapless rural population.

According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, ratio of Pakistan’s urban-rural population is 32.5%:67.5%. (Source: Pakistan Statistical Bureau)

Up until now, this huge 67.5% rural population was always ignored in all kinds of house planning, and planned social amenities like servicing of utility, transportation and communications. In many places, people have to carry manually, on cots and beds on shoulders or animal carts the dead or sick people to other places, including to basic health units.

Another social and economic problem is the transmigration, to the level of exodus of rural population towards urban areas.

According a report of Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Centre of September 2016, in Pakistan the migration to urban areas ratio is 2.8% annually. At this rate, by 2025 the percentage of urban population is anticipated to be 50% of total population. Considering the issues under which our urban areas are riling, this mega increase in urban population in just another 7 years’ time would have a colossal effect on the urban demography of Pakistan.

All these are to be handled by none other than the government itself.

The government should publish an extensive report on the issue of urban migration and urbanization, its causes and effects; and what remedial actions must be taken at the earliest. Pakistan’s urban population growth is 3.3%, while rural population growth is 1.4%. So, among many other things, to manage and control national population growth, steps must be taken to properly manage the rural population by providing maximum social and economic amenities to the rural populace.

Here comes the needs and requirements of molding all villages of Pakistan to the form of model villages, in which simplicity of rural life immersed in maximum possible facilities of urban life would be developed.

To this end, the government would initiate rural housing development and finance, through gearing up and marshaling all the interested parties. In rural areas, there would not expectedly be any problem, or shortage, of land. What rural people would be in need, is of enabling environments, policies, procedures and processes, which would help them develop a model living environment. We hope that, we would be able to do so without putting much pressure on the exchequer.

Out of planned 50 lakh housing units in 5 years, 1/3rd or 15 lakh would be done in urban areas, and 2/3rd or 35 lakh of rural houses would be made available in rural areas. And for obvious reasons, costs of rural houses would be much lesser than houses of urban areas.

Slum prevalence are some of big issues in big cities around the world. Through this housing policy, the government would make this issue a mainstream national issue to be recognized by all concern; and work for slum improvement, slum curtailment and prevention of farther growth of slums anywhere in Pakistan.