Karachi, home to many people and many problems

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. livable / ˈlɪv ə bəl / (adj.) – suitable or good enough to live in

    This area is not livable because there’s not enough power and water supply here.

  2. breeding ground / ˈbriː.dɪŋ ˌɡraʊnd / (n.) – an environment suitable for something to grow or develop, usually one that’s bad or harmful

    Dirty hands can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

  3. exorbitant / ɪgˈzɔr bɪ tənt / (adj.) – (of a price) too expensive that it’s not fair or reasonable anymore

    Customers of the bank are complaining about exorbitant penalty fees.

  4. encumber / ɛn ˈkʌm bər / (v.) – to make it difficult or challenging for someone to do something

    We could not give our children better education because we are encumbered with debt.

  5. cognizance / ˈkɒg nə zəns / (n.) – knowledge or understanding of something

    He has full cognizance of the risks involved in the trading business.


Read the text below.

Karachi residents want the government to take urgent measures to improve the quality of life in the city which was named earlier this year as one of the least livable around the world.

In the latest Global Liveability study, Pakistan’s largest city and financial capital was ranked 169th out of 173 cities chosen from around the world. Heaps of garbage are dumped on the side of roads in Karachi every day, serving as a breeding ground for germs.

“The garbage that is collected is basically disposed of at a very basic dumping site instead of a sanitary landfill,” said Noman Ahmed, the dean of architecture and planning at NED University. The trash piles often get mixed with sewage that can overflow into the streets, and the city’s air is filled with car exhaust fumes. When the sewage flows out into the streets, it damages the roads, which become even more dilapidated when it rains.

“Living in this city has become very tough,” said Rabia Bibi, a Karachi resident who complained about the unavailability of potable water. Ahmed says the city needs 1.1 billion gallons of water a day, but less than half of that volume flows through the pipelines. That forces half of the population to either buy water at exorbitant prices or use untreated water, which is not safe to drink.

Another challenge for Karachi residents is commuting through the city whose roads are often encumbered with shopkeepers’ stalls and other obstacles that reduce the space for vehicles, increasing traffic jams. “We also need to possibly improve the utilization of public transport. We see that there is an enormous rise in the number of motorcycles and motor cars,” Ahmed said.

Karachi dwellers blame civic agencies for the city’s problems, while researchers say measures have to be taken to improve the infrastructure and the management of the city’s resources. But Amber Alibhai, the general secretary of Shehri NGO that focuses on civic problems, says the people need to take action to help their city. “I think the citizens need to take cognizance and need to take charge of the destiny of Karachi themselves. Otherwise, it’s a lost place,” she said.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How would you feel if your city is named as one of the least livable cities around the world? Would you still want to live there? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What do you think makes a city livable (ex. easy access to basic services, good environmental quality)? Does your country have these? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Karachi dwellers blame civic agencies for the city’s problems. What factors do you think contribute to this perception among Karachi residents? Discuss.
  • According to the general secretary of Shehri NGO, Karachi residents need to take charge of the destiny of their city themselves. In what way do you think they can do so (ex. through awareness campaigns, partnerships with local authorities)? Discuss.