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Empowering communities in urban Pakistan

Empowering communities in urban Pakistan (Credit: Hitomi Kuwabara/Oxfam)

At a glance

Empowering urban communities to influence water and sanitation services, health, and inclusive governance.


We are working with urban populations living in poverty to be empowered and sufficiently resilient to understand, access and influence their rights to decent incomes, dignified living conditions, safety and security.  

The programme works with key stakeholders (including local government, service providers, law enforcement agencies, private sector and communities);  improves urban disaster preparedness and resilience;  access to essential services (water, sanitation, health care, education and energy); and ensuring sustainable and safe livelihoods in the informal economy.

Our approach

We build effective linkages among stakeholders, by organizing youth, women and men into 'Effective Citizen Groups'. To ensure that women's voices are heard, separate groups for women are formed. Effective Citizen Groups analyse their communities' needs and problems using a range of social tools; this results in a prioritized list of eight to ten issues that communities develop a plan around. Groups are formed at neighbourhood level all the way up to district and provincial levels, forming an effective mechanism for identifying and communicating local issues, and ensuring that these issues inform local authority development plans. As a result, the organized women and men are effectively engaging with government and other stakeholders to improve the policy and institutional mechanisms that are necessary for better services.

In many Effective Citizen Groups, Oxfam has found that issues around water and sanitation are key concerns for communities. Therefore, WASH sub-groups are formed to ensure that projects are implemented and to provide technical support through working with the municipality and other WASH service providers. The Effective Citizen Groups approach also allows for a wide range of issues (beyond WASH) that affect poor people to be raised, and enables the creation and implementation of multi-sector integrated development and advocacy plans.

Working through partnerships

The programme works with a range of stakeholders including civil society at local and national levels to implement the project activities; academia to disseminate the evidence from communities; think tanks to develop links between policy and practice; as well as government departments, ministries and institutions. To ensure that evidence from communities feeds into policy development, and to increase political commitment for urban governance, Oxfam is engaged with the Ministry of Climate Change, Provincial Urban Units, UN-HABITAT, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank and other key actors in urban development. Oxfam is on the National Habitat Steering Committee, and is using learning from this programme to support the government in its development of the National Urban Policy. Oxfam has also been formally requested by the government to increase the scope of this programme to include the main large cities, and this partnership would be a strategic milestone to achieving impact at a much larger scale across Pakistan.

Social accountability

Social Accountability in Pakistan: Participatory governance in urban WASH

Social Accountability in Pakistan: Participatory governance in urban WASHThe urban context in Pakistan is complex and posses major risks for the most vulnerable groups. Following the results of a participatory analysis, Oxfam developed a strategy for improving urban WASH governance and accountability in Pakistan. The model is centred on citizens, with strong elements for influencing and networking. The inclusion of social accountability mechanisms is already showing results in terms of the accountability of local administrations and improved service delivery, particularly to women and vulnerable groups.

Download the report

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