Construction of Katchi Abadis
Initially, the middleman who supplies the land for katchi abadis arranges for water supply through tankers and transportation via bus routes. As the settlement grows and the neighborhood consolidates, there is a need for regular water supply, sewage disposal and public services like schools and clinics. Residents then lobby the government for utilities, but due to lack of or ad-hoc government initiatives, they often resort to relying on themselves to arrange for services. The Orangi area was the largest squatter settlement in Karachi, at the time, so the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) did not extend services to the Orangi neighborhood due to its unauthorised status.
When the Orangi Pilot project (OPP) began their work in 1980, it recognized resident’s efforts in the provision of sewage disposal, water supply and other services. The OPP decided to bolster resident’s initiatives by providing social and technical support while keeping in mind the social dynamics that resulted in the creation of Orangi. The community of Orangi then financed, designed and built their own low-cost sewerage system. Initially, the KMC refused to connect the area’s sewer system to the existing city sewers. However, the gaze of international media on Orangi and the OPP pressured the KMC to cooperate. The OPP sewer pipes are paid for, constructed, and maintained by families who live on each street, with the municipal corporation covering one-eighth of the costs.The community's participation in the construction of the sewerage systems and the streets above them has given them a sense of ownership and belonging to the area.
Many houses in Orangi are constructed with the help of skilled masons and hiring unskilled labor. These houses are primarily made of precast concrete block- which is used for the foundation, plinth and walls. Galvanised iron sheets along with iron trusses or timber joists make up the roofs. The walls are usually unplastered and cement concrete is used for flooring.
Houses usually consist of 3 rooms, a kitchen and a shared bathroom built around a paved courtyard. Thallawallas provide houses with concrete blocks, lintels, small slabs and concrete screens. The steel grills, windows and doors are manufactured by a ‘lohar’
Katchi Abadis originally consisted of 80-120 square metre plots, with single-story buildings. Today, many of the original single-storey settlements have expanded to house extended families of 12-15 persons with a shared toilet.The home constructions in these settlements are invariably financed by savings from women saving committees known as BC committees (Ballot committees) where a group of 15-20 women collectively save money from their household.
The social spaces in Orangi are mainly streets. The ‘gully’ (lane) and ‘chowks’ (junction) are spaces where men drink tea and discuss going-ons, women socialize, children, play cricket and neighborhood functions are held. The streets are often also used as a ‘Bazaar’ (market) space.
Thus, the public spaces of Orangi are created and not planned, by residents or local authorities.