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Unregistered Colonies live in constant fear that their homes will be removed by the respective authorities or by the powerful land 'mafia'. As they are unregistered. these colonies, there are 36 within the city boundaries, have been build upon over many years. The Municipal Authorities have allowed them to exist "informally" as they provided a much need function. Relatively inexpensive accommodation is available to allow ease of access to various jobs within the city. This cuts down on traffic and pressure on long distant transport is reduced to short distant access to places of work.
As the population grows, Karachi is estimated at between 20 - 22 million, pressure by the Municipal Authorities on these very valuable 'pockets' is increasing to take back and build high rise developments which have great monetary value.
Residents of these colonies need to understand how the system works. Once they do they can use the law to register ( this may not be possible in all locations) their colony. The only way is for the communities to form legitimate CBOs. This is where our NGO steps in. We guide them in this process.
We carried out a survey of one such colony that is located near offical residential areas and is under the pressure as pointed out. We found that once the many 'representatives' ( we invited 22 members to our office) got over their fear that we were actually an NGO and not any other body, that they opened up and explained all their problems. This confidence building took almost 2 months. Various CBOs were formed in different 'ethnic' areas (this is important as ethnicity is important), one main 'mother' body was formed with elected President, Secretary and Treasurer. This 'mother' body called Local Support Organisation is now in the process of registration with the Katchi Abadi Authority and the Karachi Municipal Authority. At the moment local body elections are underway so whichever political party gets elected, they will carry much power to change their environment, both physically and socially, once registration takes place.
It is essential to win the confidence of communities. Our social mobilisers have vast experience in the manner of communications that is necessary to allow communities to understand their legal Humanitarian and Constitutional Rights which will be explained to them in great detail.
In our opinion this is the best way to bring change. Communities take ownership and fight for their rights. Elected representatives in the Local Government structure have to listen and provide the service they were elected for.
It does work, provided the correct bureaucratic procedures are followed.
There is a strong possibility that this approach could have a domino effect with other colonies. People from other colonies will get the word. They can also do the same?