Monday April 22, 2024

‘Karachi needs climate resilient infrastructure, better use of public spaces’

By Our Correspondent
July 09, 2022

The Institute of Business Administration, in collaboration with K-Electric, hosted on Friday a ‘Karachi Urban Resilience Roundtable’ discussion aimed to encourage various perspectives from all relevant stakeholders about the root causes of the city’s challenges and to recognise fruitful areas for collaborative interventions.

The focus was to dive deeper into the academic and intellectual perspectives on the challenges to design real-time solutions. In his speech, Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon said that among other major urban challenges of Karachi was the uncontrolled growth of population diminishing the green cover of the city.

He emphasised the need for a transformation of the way public places were designed and planned. Acknowledging the need for collaboration between stakeholders, he stated, “As a society, we need to change. We are shouldering a responsibility to work together. Let’s hope a change can be made that can benefit our future generations.” He suggested that plans for climate resilient infrastructure for the city would be the key for future success.

Noor Afshan, head of Marketing, K-Electric, debuted a book that captured the state of Karachi’s infrastructure and challenges presented by the surrounding urban environment, to highlight the duality of megacities like the Karachi of today, and the Karachi we would like to see.

The first panel of the discussion focused on the challenges surrounding the mega city. Despite ranking amongst the top 10 most populous cities in the world, Karachi is ranked as the fifth least livable city in the world on the 2019 Global Livability Index. The panel on ‘Karachi Urban Resilience Challenges’ was moderated by Farhan Anwar, urban planner, assistant professor of Practice, Habib University, and consisted of the following panelists: Syed Jawad Muzaffar, additional commissioner Karachi; Naz Khan, chief strategy officer, K-Electric; Ammara Durrani, chief development policy unit, UNDP; and Syed Salahuddin, project director, The Karachi Water Supply & Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP).

The KE’s chief strategy officer spoke at length about the utility’s vision to incorporate renewable energy for Karachi, sharing that the KE intended to add 1,100MW of electricity from solar and wind sources by 2030. “Karachi is important to all of us, and as a coastal city it has more pressing issues. Urban flooding is a major challenge to the provision of all utility services -- in the last year, KE has spent over

PKR1.5 billion to protect our infrastructure against rising water levels. “We are also increasingly evaluating the impact of climate change when we are planning our demand and supply outlooks. Higher temperatures, rapid changes to the weather, all of these have a major impact on the ability of utilities to serve their consumers effectively.”

“Physical space is of utmost importance and so is planning. Planning is about the future. Plans that are made for the citizens should provide them with opportunities to make a better living,” stated Dr Noman Ahmed, professor and dean, Faculty of Architecture and Management Sciences, NED University, who moderated the second panel discussion titled “Future of Karachi ‘s Urban Development- 2030”.

This panel consisted of Asif Siddiqui, project director, Click Project (Competitive and Livable city of Karachi); Dr Nausheen Anwar, director, KUL; and Mahim Maher, editor for digital, Aaj News.

Maher highlighted the issue of electrocution due to the heavy rains in the city, lamenting the loss of life due to lack of poor and inadequate infrastructure available to cope up with the heavy monsoon rains.

The panel stressed the need for collaboration between multiple stakeholders to remove the pressure from the already weak and poor infrastructure and services available to the residents.

Karachi's urban resilience, infrastructure and services management require coordinated master planning, disaster management capacity building and collective ownership. Rethinking of the city’s governance is crucial to mitigate the urban challenges faced by the residents of Karachi and to create sustainable cities for the future. Discussions like these add valuable insights from local government representatives, experts from academia and urban planners in designing proposals and recommendations that can build solutions towards a sustainable and resilient Karachi.