The Burgeoning Population of Pakistan, Rapid Urbanization, and a Need for Low Cost Housing

We have been hearing for the past many decades that Pakistan is an agricultural country, and that it is the backbone of the country’s economy. On the contrary, if we analyze the stats related to agricultural yield, we will find that we are really lagging behind in this arena.

If we look at the fundamentals, we are one of the most naturally gifted countries of world. With a diverse landscape and all four seasons, our country presents endless opportunities for the highest quality agricultural production.

However, multiple factors have contributed to the sub-par performance of our agricultural sector. Some of the major factors include:-

A Burgeoning Population

From its inception, Pakistan has been in a population growth crisis. With a certain degree of religious sensitivity involved around family planning initiatives, a high birth rate has been one of the direct threats to our economic prosperity.

Even to this day, and despite sky high inflation, we are not experiencing any respite in the country’s birth rate. More people means more heads to feed, and this in turn strains the country’s agricultural sector.

In the worst case scenario, even agriculture based countries like Pakistan are forced to import necessary agricultural commodities, at the cost of invaluable foreign exchange.

A high population growth rate implies more housing needs across the country. However, the country’s economy in general, the public sector in particular, does not have enough fiscal space to allocate government funds for housing projects.

The Trend of Rapid Urbanization

With the proliferation of mechanized agriculture, and the mushroom growth of housing projects on fertile agricultural lands, we are witnessing a trend of rapid urbanization across the country.

Most of the country’s rural population is flocking towards metropolitan cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. This is also putting immense pressure on the limited housing options available in these already bustling cities.

As a result, there is a severe housing crisis across all major cities of the country, and people are forced to live in sub-par conditions, due to lack of options and affordability. The key factor is a demand-supply gap, which in turn is pushing the cost of housing even higher.

The Solution – Low Cost Housing for the Masses

Whether it is population control, or halting the trend of rapid urbanization, these require mid to long term remedies. In the short-term, the solution to this escalating problem is government-backed, low cost housing projects in the form of multi-story structures.

The foremost issue is availability of prime land for such projects, which should be located in the most easily accessible areas of the city. Well, this is something that can be done easily, as the government has colonial era acres of land, which is now in the heart of our cities.

We have witnessed rapid advancement in the area of fast-paced construction of multi-story structures. The best part is, these latest techniques also reduce the cost of construction, making these structures even more affordable for the masses.

The next challenge would be generating funds for such mid to large scale housing projects. Firstly, this is such a viable model that international donors like the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be willing to provide funding, as a fundamental, macro-level issue of the country is being addressed.

Even if we ignore the element of international funding, the Government can easily undertake public-private partnerships for such projects. The most vital aspect of such initiatives is generating economic activity.

The housing and construction industry generates activity across multiple other small to medium sized industries, boosting economic activity and generating thousands of jobs. This will prove as one of the possible sources of the country’s economic revival.


The most important element of any such projects is recovering the costs. The solution to this issue would be giving this accommodation to the masses on easy installment plans.

This concept is known as rent-substitution. People that are paying rent would be more than happy to pay the same, or similar amount as installment of their allotted residential unit. The best part is, the occupant would know that after a certain period of time, the unit would become an owned property.

Let us hope that the government draws its attention towards this issue, among the many challenges that it is facing right now. This will prove beneficial for not only the masses, but will also improve the overall image of the government.

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