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Aslam Jahan Colony in Orangi
Aslam Jahan Colony in Orangi
City DistrictKarachi
 • ConstituencyNA-251 (Karachi West-IV)
 • National Assembly MemberSyed Aminul Haque (MQM-P)
 • Total60 km2 (22 sq mi)
 • Total1,540,420

Orangi (Sindhi: اُورنگي‎, Urdu: اُورنگی‎) is a municipality approximately 22 square miles in area that forms much of the northwestern part of Karachi, Pakistan. When grouped with the neighboring municipality of Baldia Town, the Orangi-Baldia population is estimated to be over two million.[1] The municipality was described in a 1999 National Geographic article on Mumbai's Dharavi slum as the "largest shanty town in Asia."[2] However, only some parts of Orangi can be characterized as a slum.[3][4] While Orangi is the largest of Karachi's mostly unplanned settlement,[5] much of Orangi does receive municipal services.


Following Pakistan's independence in 1947, a large influx of refugees from India began moving into Karachi. The Pakistani government began granting permission for refugees to settle on vacant land by 1950.[6] Orangi was established as a township in this context by 1965.[7] Orangi Township was originally planned over 1,300 acres by the Karachi Development Authority, and many of Karachi's squatter settlements were relocated here.[8] The township was planned and developed with informal assistance from the city's municipal administration.[8]

Its population rapidly increased in 1971 following the arrival of thousands of refugees fleeing from the newly independent state of Bangladesh,[6] and the government began to regard it as a quasi-permanent settlement.[6] However, due to its status as an unofficial and unplanned settlement,[9] Orangi did not qualify for government aid or community assistance, and the area's sanitation was extremely poor.[7] Unofficial administrators emerged and became members and leaders of local political parties.[8]

In the 1980s, as local inhabitants became frustrated at the lack of assistance from the municipal administration, the Orangi Pilot Project was launched under the guidance of Akhtar Hameed Khan,[10] in which the local community financed, designed and built their own low-cost sewerage system.[11] As a result of the sense of ownership, the community maintained the sewerage system and streets itself.[6] Piped water was only introduced to the settlement in 1984,[5] though the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board eventually began providing water supply to the settlement.[5]

Until the early 1980s, most of Orangi's population was Muhajir or Punjabi. The town's demography began to shift in the 1980s as Pashtuns began arriving in the city in large numbers. In 1985, Karachi's ethnic divisions reached Orangi, as Muhajir and Pashtun groups fought over the area near Benaras Chowk and Metro Cinema.[12] In December 1986, Pashtun gunmen attacked the Aligarh Colony, which was home to a vulnerable population of Biharis who had recently been repatriated from Bangladesh.[12]

The municipality was described in a 1999 National Geographic article on Mumbai's Dharavi slum as the "largest shanty town in Asia."[2] Orangi is in fact a lower-class settlement with basic amenities of life available to most of the people. Only some parts of Orangi Town can be characterized as a slum.[3][4] At 22 square miles in size, it is “significantly less dense than most urban slums and also more structured.” In comparison, Dharavi is home to one million people in about one square mile.[13] Ninety percent of Orangi's streets are connected to sewage services.[6][14] Ninety-six percent of homes in Orangi have their own private latrine or toilet,[15] compared to Dharavi where there is roughly one toilet per 1,000 people.[16] Most homes in Orangi feature two or three rooms.[6]

In 2001, Orangi was formally organized and established as a proper part of the city of Karachi and granted its own town council.[1] By 2004, over 90% of households in Orangi were connected to the city's electric grid, although up to 20% of connections were illegal.[8]


Orangi is bordered by New Karachi to the north across the Shahrah-e-Zahid Hussain, Gulberg Town to the east across the Gujjar Nala stream, Liaquatabad Town to the south, and Sindh Industrial and Trading Estate to the west. There are 13 official neighborhoods, each with its own council, which has allowed the township to build its own sewer system.

Orangi stretches out from the Khasba Hills, North Nazimabad and Paposh Nagar towards the northern parts of Karachi and covers approximately 22 square miles of land. The Khasba Hills forms a natural boundary between Orangi Town and North Nazimabad. The defunct City District Government constructed a road through the Khasba Hills connecting Orangi with North Nazimabad.[17]


Orangi's population alone is estimated to be over one million. When combined with neighboring Baldia, the population is over two million.[1] Twenty-five percent of Orangi's population is Pashtuns, and another 25% Muhajir.[12] A significant population of Muhajirs are Biharis who migrated from Bihar in 1947, and from East Pakistan in 1971.[18][19] The remaining 50% is a mix of Afghans, Balochis, Bengalis, Punjabis, and Sindhis.[12]

Orangi Pilot Project[edit]

A poverty-alleviation project, called the Orangi Pilot Project, was initiated by Akhtar Hameed Khan in 1980. The project was aimed at socioeconomic development of Orangi.[20] The project comprises a number of programs, including a people's financed and managed low-cost sanitation program,[21] a housing program that assisted in the construction of 93,000 houses[1], a basic health and family planning program, and a rural development program in the nearby villages.[22] The OPP also helps provide education services, and as a result, the literacy rate in Orangi is higher than the rate in Karachi overall.[1] Along with the Orangi Charitable Trust (OCT),[1] OPP operates a program of supervised credit for small family enterprise units.

The OPP sewer pipes are financed, constructed, and maintained by the families who live on each street,[6] though one-eighth of the cost of services is provided by the municipal government.[23] Pipes are built under the street, with each household contributing $800 to $1000 toward construction of sewer services.[23] "Lane managers" collect dues from households, and arbitrate disputes.[23] The OPP model has been exported to other cities in Sindh and Punjab.[6] OPP has also helped establish Awami tanks, which are underground water cisterns for use in a local area. Many are located under Orangi's mosques and churches.[5]

Localities within Orangi[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hasan, Arif; Mohib, Masooma (2003). "The Case of Karachi, Pakistan" (PDF). UNDERSTANDING SLUMS: Case Studies for the Global Report on Human Settlements. University College London.
  2. ^ a b Mark Jacobson (May 2007). "As Mumbai booms, the poor of its notorious Dharavi slum find themselves living in some of India's hottest real estate". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 16 July 2007.
  3. ^ a b Mark Jacobson (May 2007). "Mumbai's Shadow City". National Geographic Magazine. Archived from the original on 21 April 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b File:Principaux Bidonvilles.png#Raw data
  5. ^ a b c d Satterthwaite, David (2003). Water and Sanitation. IIED. ISBN 978-1-84369-479-3.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Karachi's Orangi Town named largest slum in the world". The Express Tribune. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  7. ^ a b Inam, Aseem (23 October 2013). Designing Urban Transformation. Routledge. p. 194. ISBN 978-1-135-00639-6.
  8. ^ a b c d Wignaraja, Ponna; Sirivardana, Susil (19 August 2004). Pro-Poor Growth and Governance in South Asia: Decentralization and Participatory Development. Sage Publications. ISBN 978-0-7619-9798-6.
  9. ^ Hasan, Arif (1999) Akhtar Hameed Khan and the Orangi Pilot Project. City Press, Karachi. ISBN 969-8380-20-5
  10. ^ "Remembering Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan - Pakistan Today". www.pakistantoday.com.pk.
  11. ^ "ORANGI PILOT PROJECT". web.mit.edu.
  12. ^ a b c d Gayer, Laurent (2003). A Divided City: "Ethnic" And "Religious" Conflicts In Karachi, Pakistan (PDF) (Report).
  13. ^ Daniel Tovrov (9 December 2011). "5 biggest slums in the world". International Business Times.
  14. ^ "These are the world's five biggest slums". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Fed up with no sewers, Pakistan's slum residents go DIY". Reuters. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2020. 96 percent of the settlement’s 112,562 households have latrines, with residents footing the total bill for the sewage system of 132,026,807 Pakistani rupees ($1.26 million).
  16. ^ "Building the BRICS: Immigrants often live in informal settlements in India". news.cgtn.com. Retrieved 1 April 2020. Architect Samidha Patil from urbz is working currently on building public toilets and supplying water for them through wells that have never been used. Dharavi has 1 toilet block per 1000 resident.
  17. ^ "Daily Jang Urdu News - Pakistan News - Latest News - Breaking News". jang.com.pk.
  18. ^ Corpses or rights (by Jīlānī Cāndpūrī, Vajāhat Ḥusain Ṣiddīqī ʻAlvī Qādrī. Halqa-e-Alvia. 1990. Retrieved 22 February 2010. It was during those days i.e. before 1986 that a public meeting was held in a locality inhabited by refugees from Bihar – Orangi Town Bihar colony of...
  19. ^ "The quest for Bihari identity". Daily Jang. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  20. ^ Axinn, George H (1997) Book Review. Agriculture and Human Values, Vol. 14, No. 2, (June). ISSN 0889-048X p. 193
  21. ^ Khan, Akhtar Hameed (1997) The sanitation gap: Development's deadly menace. The Progress of Nations. UNICEF[dead link]
  22. ^ Khan (1996)[full citation needed]
  23. ^ a b c Inam, Aseem (23 October 2013). Designing Urban Transformation. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-00639-6.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°57′N 66°58′E / 24.950°N 66.967°E / 24.950; 66.967