Since 2019, with support from UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub (BRH) and Agirre Lehendakaria Center (ALC), UNDP Pakistan has been implementing Social Innovation Platforms in Gilgit-Baltistan and Karachi. In the remote Hushe Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, SIP helps propel socio-economic change by facilitating inclusive and participatory collaboration between communities, governments and business stakeholders to explore the potential of food economy and agro-tourism for livelihood improvement. In Karachi, SIP supports City for All, a joint project by UNDP Pakistan and IBA Karachi aimed at strengthening the inclusion and resilience of migrants, displaced people and host communities in informal urban settlements in Karachi. SIP helps bring onboard support from the Government, including the Local Government Department (Sindh), Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority, and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation; academia and think tanks; civil society organizations; and development partners.
In collaboration with Tech for Democracy (T4D) initiative funded by the Danish government, SIP Pakistan has developed digital listening tools to increase access to marginalized groups and listen to them pro-actively and sharing their stories, challenges and opportunities with the government and development counterparts for improved social protection programming.
SIP is featured in UNDP Pakistan Annual Report 2021 as an example of how SIP helps UNDP transition from traditional vertical projects to a portfolio of integrated solutions.
While Gilgit-Baltistan is well known for its breathtaking natural environment, it lacks many vital livelihood opportunities for its sparsely dispersed population. Agriculture has been one of the major sources for livelihood and for centuries people of the area are engaged in subsistence farming. However, the potential of agricultural sector and the rising tourism is largely curbed by a host of challenges including extreme weather, poor infrastructure, lack of irrigation system and health care services, and no access to clean water among other intertwined obstacles The public sector remains limited in terms of capable human resources and financial means to improve socio-economic development at local level. The fragile private sector sees constraints in investment due to lack of capacity and expertise, high risks, and uncertainty.
In addition, due to its geographical position, Karachi has seen a rise of both cross-border and internal migration (rural to urban) in recent decades. It is not only the economic and financial hub of the country but also host to several ethnic communities and migrants from different backgrounds. Approximately 50% of its population lives in informal urban settlements. The urban population growth has not been matched by planned urbanization, resulting in creation of informal urban settlements and a shortage for urban services. COVID-19 has further highlighted the need to address the informal expansion of urban areas, as the informal settlements have people living in small, over-crowded spaces with little access to clean water, inadequate sanitation, and limited healthcare services.