Creating Places For People

Role of Governance on Urban Poverty: A case of Lahore

Author: Khurram Faird, Chartered Town Planner at



Poverty and economic development are linked historically. Over the years qualitative research on poverty is been carried out throughout the world and particularly in South Asian countries. Urban poverty somehow is not given proper attention. Due to this reason urban poverty has been at the bottom of priority list while deriving development policy framework in developing countries and particularly in Pakistan and adopting offset measures by giving focus on rural development.


Focus on urban poverty is as essential as well as focus on poverty in the whole country. Urban poverty has numerous dimensions, determinants & causes but distribution of social, management and economic resources in urban poverty reduction cannot be overlooked. Governance and urban poverty are directly related, it is acknowledged worldwide.


All poverty reduction efforts are ineffective due to bad governance and corruption increases to highest level in all poverty reduction projects. Hence consensus is developed that food governance practice is the key factor to address the poverty. According to several research studies, it’s agreed that urban poverty remained 20-40 percent since independence. In early years it was around 40 percent, in eighties it was around 20 percent and then it continued at 30 percent till date. Factors behind the persistence of lower level of poverty are large inflow of remittances, rise in per capita income and growth rate. However governance and urban poverty at the city level needed to be thoroughly examined.


Lahore, a provincial capital and second largest city in Pakistan, is considered to be second most populous urban areas in the world and is one of the largest cities in the Islamic world. Lahore has an estimated 10 million people living in the region. [Index Mundi (2015)].


Around 30 percent of the total area of Lahore falls into slums category; however several unregistered katchi Abadies and slums are not included. These slums are developed by urban poor, low income groups and rural to urban migrants who cannot afford proper housing in urban areas, they are also by product of social inequalities, political, economic, over population as well as government intervention. In Lahore a large number of slum dwellers are rural to urban migrants who moved for better living and urban facilities.


The crisis situation provides strong ground for this term paper. The main goal of this paper is to define factors of urban poverty in relation with governance at Lahore Metropolitan City. This term paper is comprised of five sections. First section is introduction of paper; Second section gives overview and theoretical framework of governance and urban poverty and also literate review. Third section defines type of data and the methodology. Fourth Section provides discussion and empirical results. Last section is about findings and conclusions.


Governance and urban poverty are current topics of economic social development in Pakistan. Many research papers have concluded that due to bribery public revenues are reduced and public expenditures are increased. Consequently it adds to fiscal deficits and create more problems for government to smoothly run its fiscal policy. Poverty and income inequalities increase do to corruption [Qureshi(1999)]. In Pakistan, urban poverty and management of infrastructure are never discussed with the issues of good governance.


Conceptual Framework
Some researcher hesitate to differentiate between rural and urban poverty due to apprehension that such difference would eradicate one from taking into account of main factors of poverty.


Here are few importance characteristics of poverty in urban areas that must be understood and recognized. Politics, demography, socio-economic and governance have huge difference in application at rural and urban areas.


Moreover, up-to-date information on social development and poverty can be acquired by poverty assessment tool. Developing a poverty profile of Lahore will give a picture showing who is poor, their location, their standard of living, how many services they have, in this manner adding to the goals of poverty initiatives.


In literature no clear definition of urban poverty is given but broadly two methods are used: anthropological and economic analysis. Traditional definitions of economic are still used to substitutes for assessing human well being. By evaluating basic needs, consumption or income point is raised that there is possibility to cross examine the extent and depth of poverty between groups within metropolitan city or at different time frames for the same group. [Wratten (1995)]. ‘Poverty line’ is defined as the bare minimum income required to meet basic set of human needs.
Defining poverty through economics has proved that it’s been easy to measure and has given a valuable device for better perception the variations of dispossession and reasons for urban poverty. Therefore I adopted income-related technique to assess urban poverty in this paper because it’s largely exercised variable for poverty. With the careful assessment & study of poverty in urban area is most vital variable to monitor the development of goals and objectives of urban poverty alleviation programs.


In development literature “good governance” or “governance” is widely used. Poor governance is declared as main reason for the poverty specifically in urban areas. Even international donor and financial institutions have linked their grants with initiatives of good governance adopted by any government.


Urban governance is not latest concept; it is linked with early human settlements. In the simplest definition of governance it highlight to stages; first one is the procedure of decision making and how it can be implemented. Good governance has many dimensions such as local city and district level governance, wide provincial and national governance, regional and international governance and large enterprises and corporate governance. It refers to how a county is managing its social and economic resources. Good governance requires monitoring of institutional infrastructure in the country, so that bureaucrats and politicians have the control to assess the common good, while preventing corruption and capricious action.


Good Governance according to World Bank (1992) is a public service that capable, an administration that is answerable to its people and a judicial system that is dependable. According to World Bank there are three diverse aspects of governance. First is the kind and the form of democratic government (democratic or authoritarian and civilian or military, presidential or parliamentary) second is the procedure by which social and economic resources of the country are managed. Third is the overall ability of government is to devise, design and execute rules and regulations.
Governance is defined by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP as:


“The exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises of the mechanisms, processes and institutions, through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations, and mediate their differences”.


Governance is defined by the economists Pablo Zoido-Lobation, Aart Kraay and Daniel Kaufmann of World Bank as:


…..the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised, including (1) the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced; (2) the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and (3) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interaction among them.


Good governance has a multifaceted impression that comprised of socio-cultural, economic, political, factors and organization of municipal services that conclude how a policy planned by the institution or department of government realize proposed aims and advance well being of its public. However this paper is very much focused with local governance mostly in relation with the administration of road facilities, sewerage and drink water resources in urban areas of Lahore.


Review of the Literature
Early democratic political theory originates concept of governance, that discusses the connection between the people and the rulers. Recently in the developing world it has got momentous interest in the under develop and developing countries. It was supported by multilateral and bilateral assistance from developed countries to under develop and developing counties that failed to reach its objectives. (promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty) and consequence was great deal of dishonesty in order to manage urban infrastructure to households.


In Pakistan urban poverty and governance are very new concepts and with very short background history. Both have been placed at very low priority areas of policy formulations. It is also placed at the lowest level of research and enquiry in Pakistan. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics stated that, economic growth rate in 2004-05 and 2005-06 was 8.6 and 6.6, while rate urban poverty reduction was less as compared to poverty reduction in rural areas.
In Punjab there are 13 least poor district out of total 25 districts in the country; including Gujranwala, Faisalabad, T T Singh, Narowal, Lahore, Chakwal, Mandi Bahuddin, Khushab, Gujrat, Rawalpinidi Attock, Jhelum and Sialkot. Rest of all districts are situated either in Northern Punjab or in Central Punjab. The Punjab strip stretching from Rawalpindi to Lahore is `least poor’ in the country.


Govt instead of speaking on municipal services and other social and economic activities has allocated over 43% of budget for transportation related projects.



Governance at City Level of Pakistan needs to highlight the issue of urban poverty.


There are quite few number of studies are completed in recent times and in past in Pakistan. These research comprise of work of Malik and Choudhry (2005), FBS (2002), Arif et al (2001) Qurechi and Arif (2001) Jafri (1999), Ali and Tahir (1999), Zingel (1998), Amjad and Kamal (1997), Altaf et al. (1993) Ahmad (1993), Akhter (1988), Erclawn (1988, 1990), Mujahid (1978), Wasay (1977), Alauddin (1975) and Naseem (1973, 1977).
This paper had used had used data from collected from Household socio economic and environmental surveys and approximated figures of poverty at urban and rural levels.



Governance significance has increase not only among international policy makers but also in the country. In Pakistan, on governance very few research studies are conducted they are Tahir (2001) Steeten (2000), Shah (2000), Shafqat (2001), Queshi (2001), Husain (2002) and Hijazi (1998). Hijazi (1998) in his research examined the link between role of bureaucracy and motivational theories. According to him government’s system is more of administrative, secretarial and without any management, and best practices for governance can only be accomplish by asserting enthusiasm and motivation.


Another author Hussain (1999) studied governance with special focus on Pakistan. He described the whole system and its relationships within departments. He categorized public institutions into three. Mainly they are service delivery, policy making and accountability.


According to Qureshi (1999) stressed that good governance can be achieved by sustainable economic growth trends and institutional reforms. Shafqat (1999) explained the role of bureaucracy in socio-economic context. He emphasised that intuitional reforms are the need of the time. Shah (1999) also highlighted the themes localization, globalisation, and management.
These studies have explained the issue and problems related to good governance at national level. This paper focus is to assess the factors and analyse the urban poverty in Lahore City and what are measure, which can be adopted to improve the good governance to alleviate the poverty.


Primary data is collected from throughout the Lahore from north to south and east to west. Each and every small town, slums, commercial hub and other localities were noted and sample size was derived with the help of most recent electoral records of each ward and union council. Sample size was determined 14000 questionnaires. Household survey questionnaire was derived and training was given to each enumerator. All the data collected was then entry in to computer.


Next stage is to poverty line in urban areas that separate the no poor and the poor. While keeping in view time limitation I decided to use Federal Bureau of Statistics FBS. According to them 2250 calories are required for adult per day.


In a recent statement by Federal Government about 60 Million people live below poverty line and out of that 50 million living in rural areas. In Pakistan wealth is distributer quite unevenly with top ten percent Pakistanis earning 28% and the bottom ten percent earning on 4.0 % of total income?


In this paper descriptive analysis have been employed.


Urban poverty engages multiple issues related to infrastructure, shelter, education, health, labour market, income, employment and particularly governance linked with demographic and socio-economic variables. A full detailed view of these concerns is important to understand poverty at city level.


Descriptive Analysis
Prior to dig further in to details of poverty in urban Lahore, it is utmost important to give the descriptive analysis and explanation of the data collected linked to poverty during the in-depth household survey. Household survey was conducted in November-December 2015 where 14000 households were interviewed. This survey has covered all the union councils and wards of Lahore city.


A large portion of urban poor in Lahore live in areas where there is no municipal infrastructure and no social infrastructure available, slums and down trodden area of the city. They are facing problems like polluted environment, solid waste management, and poor conditions of roads, sewerage, and sanitation facilities. Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is responsible for sewerage and water supply system of Lahore. In some areas sewerage infrastructure is so old and poorly laid that it is useless and does not provide services and meet the requirement of Lahoris. WASA has started many projects of sanitation and sewerage but slums and katchi Abadies couldn’t get any advantage so far. Lahore Solid Waste Management Company is taking care of collection, processing and dumping of solid waste in Lahore. LWMC was established in 2011 and subsequently it spread over to six other cities of Punjab, but even with the hundreds of millions of rupees spent on waste collection system, it has failed to show its optimum results yet. One can see Heaps of garbage at all slums areas. According to Lahore waste management company, 10000 tonnes of solid waste is generated daily by citizens of Lahore but they are able to collect only 6500 tones. Over all hygienic situations in slums and katchi Abadies is very poor that household easily catch diseases.


Household data reveals that in about 12000 households there are 72000 members living, with a population ratio of 49:51 where 49 per cent are females and 51 per cent are males. The literacy rate in the male population is higher than those of the female population. Male are about 68.18 percent literate and females are only 60.23 percent. Household size on average is 6.8 persons per house hold. 0.79 is the dependency ration of each household while old dependency and child dependency are 0.25 and 0.68 respectively. 55 per cent is participation rate and literacy among heads of household is 88 per cent while illiterate are only 12 percent.


Household heads average age is 55.5 years. 3.58 person per room in each household. 55 per cent of the household have commuting and poor housing problems. It takes on average 35 minutes to reach nearest post office, bank, but stop and health clinic. Electricity is provided in 98 per cent of the households and gas connection is provided to 65 per cent of the household.
While summing it up, good governance can significantly reduce the poverty and issues of poor households in Lahore through the provision of civic facilities and proper management. LDA WASA, LWMC, and others have to take extra measures to provide services in the city and to alleviate poverty in urban centres. It will not only help to increase the income level but also better municipal facilities will improve the quality of life for the poor.


Mother of all evils in a city can me named as bad governance. The governance problem was always there in Pakistan since independence but never been paid attention to. Pakistan for the last few decades has been on the top of the list for being the most corrupt nation in the world. In recent studies have proved that better governance in the country has significantly reduced the poverty at urban and rural levels.


Bad governance affects most to poor people who are least resourceful and are the weakest position, due this reason they become more vulnerable. Descriptive analysis of this study also clearly proved it. Therefore, in conclusion, it is proven that through best practices of governance urban poverty can be alleviated through addressing most demographic variables, by providing equal economic social and environmental infrastructure in Lahore.


In continuation with my view point, I suggest some policy measures to control and reduce poverty in the city with the adaptation of good governance practices in Pakistan and particularly in the Lahore Metropolitan Area.


• After the local bodies election there is utmost need to strengthen the local bodies in order to address the issues at the local level and ward level through councillors and chairman of respective union council.
• Environmental health, sewerage, drainage, sanitation, waste disposal services remain flawed and inadequate. City-level governance needs to address these issues comprehensively. Local bodies and development authorities need to pay more attention to upgrade services and basic infrastructure in slums and katchi Abadies of Lahore.
• All the departments, institutions and authorities with in limit of Lahore Metropolitan City area need to develop strong coordination to minimise the costs and avoid unnecessary expenditure. Slum areas need a great deal of attention from these authorities.
• Vocational training besides basic education can become a great human capital for the city. Technical education will help the urban poor to be more productive and innovative.
• Lahore with 49 per cent of the female population but their contribution to the labour force is very nominal. Females enrolment at graduation and post-graduation level is must better than male counterparts. There is a need to provide a conducive environment by ensuring security and safety at work places by strict labour laws and regulations and address the issues of commuting safely to and from a workplace.
• There is a large number of work force working informally or doing casual works. In order to eradicate poverty, there is a need to improve the informal sector. By providing affordable transport to work and improving access to markets and industries will improve the lives of low-income people.
• After the 18th amendment a lot of many powers were shifter from central to provincial governments, but this process has never been completed. By empowering local governments will cut numerous bureaucratic barriers in the provision of basic infrastructure.


To conclude LDA, WASA, LWMC and newly elected local bodies must take concrete steps to provide infrastructure to all parts of the city to alleviate poverty. However, there is a need for further studies to further highlight the linkages between governance and poverty in the city at the macro level.



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