Reporter's Notebook from Pakistan

What Houston Can Learn From Karachi And Other Megacities

For other growing cities like Houston, urban planners say there is a lot to learn from Karachi and other megacities, especially as more and more people around the world flock to urban centers for jobs and opportunity.

 

 

Karachi is a megacity that thrives. It has more than 20 million residents and is still growing, on track to reach 30 million by 2030. Traffic sounds fill the street. People crowd into buses bedazzled with pop-art and even pile on top to grab a spot.

As a metropolis, Karachi can confound people who like order and planning, or even basic services like electricity, regular trash pick-up and clean water. The mayor is in jail. Solid waste can't keep up with growth, so there are pop-up landfills off of main roads and in alleyways.

There is no municipal mass transit. Instead, almost two million motorbikes transport people. Yet somehow Karachi still functions. It continues to grow and evolve – and improve in some ways.

Gulraiz Khan, a professor at Habib University, credits something called "emergence." In that, Khan says that low-level actors pursue their interests and together create higher-ordered systems. Think of the open source web, but for urban planning. "It's what makes a city like Karachi work. It's more resilient and stronger. It's emergence," Khan said.

For other growing cities like Houston, urban planners say there is a lot to learn from Karachi and other megacities, especially as more and more people around the world flock to urban centers for jobs and opportunity.

We invite you to listen to the latest dispatch above.

Laura is participating in a fellowship for reporters sponsored by ICFJ— the International Center For Journalists. Think of it as a student exchange for journalists.

You can also follow her journey on Twitter and Facebook.

And check out Laura's earlier entries on the special page on our website.

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