Introducing Growth Management Policy
to Kabul; City with Rapid Urbanization and Informal Settlement
is located at an altitude of 1800 m (6000 feet) above sea level, strategically
situated in a valley surrounded by high mountains. It has only one river which
is called Kabul River. It rises at the Paghman Mountain toward South Pass about
70 km (43 mi) west of Kabul. The climate within region is considered to be arid
to semi-arid. In the 1960s and 1970s, Kabul was known as the Paris of central
Asia as it was transforming into a European style city. Once the jewel of Asia,
a very progressive and moderately modern capital. This progressive peaceful
society lasted until foreign interference occurred in the late 1970s plummeting
the country to what Afghanistan has become today Wikipedia The city witnessed
decades of war with Soviet Union, Civil War and Taliban. Finally, in December
2001 US army led forces with their alliances took control of Kabul and it
became the capital of the Afghan Transitional Administration. The war-torn city
began to see some positive development as millions of expats returned to the
country. Its population has grown from about 500,000 in 2001 to over 4.4
million in 2017.
The unpreparedness of the government for rapid
urbanization and growth brought harmful consequences to the Kabul city, the
population in Kabul has ballooned from approximately 1.5 million in 2001 to
around 4.5 million people now which was originally designed for 700,000 people.
It caused severe ecological and social problems due to estimated 70% of Kabul’s
residents live in informal settlements https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/dec/11/kabul-afghanistan-fifth-fastest-growing-city-world-rapid-urbanisation. Rapid urbanization is
presenting the greatest test for land professionals in the application of land
governance to support and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The
challenge is to deal with the social, economic and environment consequences of
this development through more effective and comprehensive land administration
functions, supported by effective Spatial Data Infrastructures, resolving
issues such as climate change, insecurity, energy scarcity, environmental
pollution, infrastructure chaos and extreme poverty. Rapid Urbanization and Mega
Cities: The Need for Spatial Information Management FIG Report number 48
By 1972, growth had expanded exponentially,
and Florida was the fastest growing state in the country, with a population of
approximately 6.7 million.4 Population pressures, a serious drought, a growing
environmental movement, and a progressive state political leadership combined to
propel Florida to the tier of states that reinvigorated state control over land
and water use.
In 1950, only 1 out of every 20 Afghans lived in cities.
In 2014, 1 out of every 4 lives in cites. Kabul is one of the clearest cases of
a ‘primate city’ in the world. It has an estimated 50% of the total Afghan
urban population, and is roughly seven times larger than the next largest cities
in the country (Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar). https://unhabitat.org/afghanistan/
The rapid urban population increase resulted informal
settlements in the city causing conversion of farmlands to residential area and
illegal development on public property.
Informal settlements are classified as follows:
return of refugees from other countries after establishment of new government
in 2001 B. Public land grabbing by powerful individuals.
Internally Displaced People (IDP camps) due to security issues.
Today, informal settlements represent about 69% (71.6
km²) of all residential areas in Kabul and provide shelter to about 80% of its
population. The informal settlements represent a fixed private capital
investment of US$2.5 billion (not including land value). Kabul Urban
Policy Notes Series n.2
Informal settlements are found in all over the
districts in the Kabul municipality.
However, these informal settlements give
shelter to most of the population of the city, but it lacks infrastructure system
and brought various environmental challenges. According
to the Afghan Ministry of Health, up to 3,000 citizens die each year in Kabul
due to air pollution. According to Ministry
of Energy and Water, the rate of decline in groundwater levels is between 1 and
22 meters, apart from quantity, the quality of ground water in the city is also
deteriorating in Kabul city.
Air Pollution in Kabul city
Rapid loss of agricultural and green land,
air and water pollution, poor waste and water management, congestion, limited public
transport options, decreasing public space and urban safety are the main challenges
for sustainable development of the city. To tackle the challenges and be prepared
for future sustainable development, integrated planning and revision of the
master plan for the Kabul city is needed.
Greenbelts; a growth management policy:
Greenbelts are new growth management
approach for shaping the urbanization to meet sustainable developments goals. Green
Belts can shape patterns of urban development at sub-regional and regional
scale, and help to ensure that development occurs in locations allocated in
development plans. They help to protect the countryside, be it in agricultural,
forestry or other use Planning policy Guideline (England).
The main objectives of Greenbelts are:
Protection of land be it agricultural,
forestry or related.
landscapes, near to where people live.
Shaping the development
Application of greenbelt policy in Kabul
city can immediately start for protection of farming land from informal settlement
but will require Environmental Land Management and Water Resources Study to
overcome the other environmental issues such as water and air pollution, decreasing
of ground water level in the city. It will help to understand the key locations
which have major environmental impact in the city and needed to be protected
for sustainable development.
The greenbelt policy can be used to protect
land for water retention to infiltrate and recharge the ground water and meet
the demand sustainably, beside that Kabul Municipality required to control the
illegal discharge of ground water by the households and provide water supply
The informal settlements on the hilly area are at
great disaster risk. Kabul city is placed on top of an active fault and earthquakes
with greater magnitude is expected which will cause huge fatality, to overcome
this challenge Kabul Municipality needed to relocate these people to a new
place with all infrastructure and facility and protect the hilly area for greenery,
this way on one hand standards of living of the people will improve and on the
other hand the water contamination and air pollution will greatly reduce.
The problem of informal
settlements which are built with huge investments can be solved with Land
or land readjustment can be an important tool for developing new land or reorganizing
urban areas. The landowners collectively leave land for streets and other
public places, build the required infrastructure wholly or partly and adapt
existing boundaries to the new plan. The new building sites are distributed
according to area or value of land inputs. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197397596000598
city has seen rapid growth and increase of population which caused informal
settlements but still