Orangi Pilot Project

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The Orangi Pilot Project (Urdu: اورنگی پائلٹ پراجیکٹ‎; abbreviated OPP) collectively designates three Pakistani Non-governmental organisations working together, having emerged from a socially innovative project carried out in 1980s in the squatter areas of Orangi, Karachi, Pakistan. It was initiated by Akhtar Hameed Khan, a North Indian muhajir from Uttar Pradesh implemented by Perween Rahman, a Bihari from Bangladesh and involved the local residents solving their own sanitation problems. Innovative methods were used to provide adequate low cost sanitation, health, housing and microfinance facilities.

Currently OPP designates three organisations, borne out of the original OPP in 1989 : OPP-RTI (Research and Training Institute), OPP-OCT (Orangi Charitable Trust, involved in microfinance) and OPP-KHASDA (Karachi Health and Social Development Association, involved in health activities). A fourth organisation, OPP-RDT (Rural Development Trust) was merged with OPP-RTI in 2012.

The project also comprised a number of programs, including a people's financed and managed Low-Cost Sanitation Program; a Housing Program; a Basic Health and Family Planning Program; a Program of Supervised Credit for Small Family Enterprise Units; an education Program; and a Rural development Program in the nearby villages.[1]

Today, the project encompasses much more than the neighbourhood level problems. The research and development programmes under the institutions developed by the project now covers wider issues related to the areas all over Karachi.

Its director until 2013 was Perween Rahman, who was murdered on 13 March 2013.[2]

The success[edit]

Orangi was a squatter community, and did not qualify for government aid due to their "unofficial" status.[3] With endogenous research, the community was able to make an affordable sanitation system for the treatment of sewage, which helped to reduce the spread of disease. The system was created and paid for by the local community, who would not have had access to a sewer system otherwise.[4]

The programme proved so successful that it was adopted by the communities across developing countries.[5] After the success of the initial phase, the program was expanded into four autonomous groups.[6]

  1. The Orangi Pilot Project Society, to control funding for the other three groups.
  2. The Orangi Research and Training Institute, to manage the programme and provide training for onward dissemination.
  3. The Orangi Charitable Trust, to manage microcredit programmes.
  4. The Karachi Health and Social Development Association, to manage a health programme.

Foundation of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP)[edit]

Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan (1914–1999) was the founder and first Director of the project,[7] and through his dynamic and innovative skills[8] managed to bring modern sanitation to the squatter community of 1 million people. He had previously organised farmers' cooperatives and rural training centres and had served as an adviser to various development projects in Pakistan. [9] He was also a research fellow and visiting professor at Michigan State University (US), Director of the Pakistan Academy of Rural Development and Principal of Victoria College (Bangladesh).[10]

Comparing the OPP with his earlier Comilla project, Akhtar Hameed Khan commented:

"The Orangi Pilot Project was very different from the Comilla Academy. OPP was a private body, dependent for its small fixed budget on another NGO. The vast resources and support of the government, Harvard advisers, MSU, and Ford Foundation was missing. OPP possessed no authority, no sanctions. It may observe and investigate but it could only advise, not enforce.".[11]

However, both projects followed the same research and extension methods.

Orangi Pilot Project – Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP – OCT)[edit]

"OPP-OCT discovered that this growing settlement of Orangi was full of the enterprising spirit. The most impressive demonstration of the spirit of enterprises is the creation of employment everywhere in the lanes; inside the homes there are around twenty thousand family units, shops workshops, peddlers and vendors. In response to the dual challenge of inflation and recession, the residents have invented working family, modifying homes into workshops, promoting the women from mere dependents to economic partners and wage earners, abandoning the dominant patriarchal pattern with surprising speed.

OPP’s research revealed two significant factors; first, there was unlimited demand for products and services of these family units. Second, the family units were extremely competitive (on account of very low over heads and very cheap and docile labour). The working family units of Orangi were completely integrated with the main Karachi markets. In fact many units are supplying goods to famous firms, who just put their labels and make big profits. What is required is to support their initiatives.

Research further revealed that the production and employment in urban as well as rural areas could easily be increased provided the credit is accessible, as there was no shortage of market demand or productive labour. But they would not get credit at reasonable rate, because banks were inaccessible to them. The lack of bank credit forced them to buy raw materials at exorbitant prices while they had to sell their products at depressed prices and forego expansion.

On the basis of the research findings, Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) decided to arrange access to credit to these micro enterprises. For this Orangi Pilot Project – Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP – OCT) was established in 1989 as an independent and autonomous institution in Orangi, a low income settlement of over one million people. The main objective is to support people effort in their economic development by providing credit in urban and rural areas."[12]


  • Perween Rahman, 2004, Katchi Abadis of Karachi: A survey of 334 katchi abadis – Existing situation, problems and solutions related to sewage disposal, water supply, health and education. Orangi Pilot Project-Research and Training Institute. Sama Publishing. ISBN 969-8784-09-8
  • Arif Hasan, 2000, Scaling Up of the Orangi Pilot Project Programs: successes, failures and potentials, City Press, Karachi.
  • Arif Hasan, 1999, Akhtar Hameed Khan and the Orangi Pilot Project, City Press, Karachi.
  • Akhtar Hameed Khan, 1996, Orangi Pilot Project: Reminiscences and Reflection, Oxford University Press, Karachi
  • Arif Hasan, 1993, Scaling Up of the OPP’s Low Cost Sanitation Program, Research Training Institute, Karachi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1996, Orangi Pilot Project: Reflection and Reminiscences. The Oxford University Press: Karachi.
  2. ^ "Pakistan mourns murdered aid worker Parveen Rehman". BBC News.
  3. ^ 1999, Arif Hasan, Akhtar Hameed Khan and the Orangi Pilot Project. City Press: Karachi
  4. ^ 1997, Akhter Hameed Khan, The sanitation gap: Development's deadly menace. The Progress of Nations. UNICEF
  5. ^ 2000, In commemoration of The Life and Times of Akhter Hameed Khan: Talks of Akhter Hameed Khan at the National Rural Support Programme, Islamabad, NRSP
  6. ^ 1997, George H. Axinn, Agriculture and Human Values, Vol. 14, No. 2, (June). ISSN 0889-048X
  7. ^ Allama Mashriqi & Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan: Two Legends of Pakistan, Nasim Yousaf, Xlibris Corporation, 2003, ISBN 1-4010-9097-4[self-published source]
  8. ^ 1998, Ashok Nigam and Sadig Rasheed,Financing of Fresh Water for All: A Rights Based Approach, UNICEF Staff Working Papers. Evaluation, Policy and Planning Series, No. EPP-EVL-98-003
  9. ^ Khan, Akhtar Hameed (1994) What I learnt in Comilla and Orangi. Paper presented at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) seminar. Islamabad.
  10. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan". 8m.com. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2006.
  11. ^ Introduction about Late Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan Archived 17 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine at Government of Pakistan website
  12. ^ http://www.oppoct-microcredit.com

External links[edit]