Project on Environment, Population & Security, April 1996
by Thomas Homer-Dixon
This paper examines the contribution of environmental scarcity to violent conflict in Pakistan. It argues that scarcity is never the sole cause of Pakistan’s social conflict. Nevertheless, evidence indicates that the country’s varied and worsening environmental scarcities interact with the structure and operation of the Pakistani state to trigger processes that heighten ethnic, communal, and class-based rivalries. This combination of forces encourages resource capture, the marginalization of the poor, rising economic hardship, and a progressive weakening of the state. These processes, in turn, culminate in increased group-identity (for example, inter ethnic) and deprivation conflicts, particularly in the country’s urban areas.
Rapid population growth and degradation of a nation’s environmental resources may impair its economy, disrupt its social relations, and destabilize its political system. These stresses can cause civil or even international strife. Today, such conflicts appear likely in certain parts of the developing world where growing populations with rising expectations struggle to sustain themselves on a dwindling resource base.
Some commentators view the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as increasingly vulnerable to environmentally-induced conflict. They argue that with a population growth rate that ranks among the highest in the world, a declining resource base, and growing evidence of societal strife, environmental and demographic stresses are already destabilizing Pakistan.
However, there has been no adequate investigation of whether and how population growth and scarcities of renewable resources, such as cropland, forests, and freshwater (which we refer to here as “environmental scarcities”), contribute to the intensity and extent of violence within Pakistan. In general, commentators assert rather than demonstrate causation; they ignore other variables – some long associated with the onset or perpetuation of conflict in the country – and they do not specify the precise causal processes by which scarcity produces violence.
Identifying these linkages is a daunting task in part because of severe data limitations. Nevertheless, a systematic investigation of the nature and sources of environmental scarcity and of its societal effects in Pakistan yields important insights.
This paper first examines the character of the Pakistani state, its political and economic development, and the tensions which have historically marked Pakistani society. It then turns to the issue of environmental scarcity, examining its nature, its social impacts, and the degree to which linkages between scarcity and conflict exist in Pakistan.
We conclude that environmental scarcity rarely if ever acts as the sole cause of conflict. Other variables – most notably the character of the state, its development, its policies, and its relationship to the society at large – not only have increased environmental degradation, but also have interacted with environmental scarcity to generate social instability and conflict. We show that, together, these forces are triggering resource capture, marginalization of poor groups, rising economic hardship, and a weakening of the state. This interaction is heightening ethnic, communal, and class-based rivalries that have long plagued Pakistani society. This conjunction of pressures increases group-identity and deprivation conflict as groups turn to violence as a means of addressing their mounting grievances.
These conflicts are increasingly urban in character. Environmental scarcity is now a major contributor to the rapid expansion and fractionation of the urban population and to the growing inability of the state to meet this population’s demands. Within the Pakistani urban context, opportunities for competition among rival groups rise, struggles over scarce urban resources mount, and grievances proliferate. Yet as the relative capacity of the state erodes, means of addressing grievances and nonviolent channels for expressing them are less and less available. The result in Pakistan is a persistent escalation of urban violence.
Lasting solutions to this turmoil will require fundamental reforms in the Pakistani state and its policies. In their absence, strife will increase and could eventually contribute to regional instability.
Background: The State and Society
The Land and Its People
Pakistan, which means “land of the pure,”5 is a predominantly Muslim state located in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. Extending from the northern Himalayan mountain ranges one thousand miles down to the Arabian Sea, it is bounded on the northwest by the mountain ranges of Koh Sulaiman and by Afghanistan and on the southwest by the Iranian section of Baluchistan. In the east, Pakistan is separated from India along the Sutlej River, the deserts of Rajasthan, and the Rann of Kutch; and a cease fire line dividing the Kashmir Valley separates the two countries in the north.6
The country has a total land area of approximately 310,322 square miles, much of which consists of desert and mountainous regions. Yet the river system of the Indus and its tributaries has provided Pakistan with some of the most fertile and best-irrigated land in the Indian subcontinent, and a majority of the population lives along its banks. Frequent, occasionally severe earthquakes occur in the northern and western regions, while flooding plagues the Indus valley after heavy rainfall.
Agriculture is the nation’s principal occupation, employing half of the country’s population and accounting for 25 percent of its GNP. Wheat, cotton, rice, barley, sugarcane, maize, and fodder are the main crops. In addition, the western province of Baluchistan supplies a rich crop of fruits and dates. The industrial sector is growing and employs over 20 percent of the formal workforce. Key industries include textiles, construction materials, sugar, paper products, and rubber. Mineral resources are modest. In addition to oil and gas reserves, Pakistan has deposits of uranium, coal, sulfur, chromate, limestone, and antimony.
The state has four constituent political units: the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and the provinces of Punjab, Sind, and Baluchistan; a number of tribal areas are also administered by the federal government. Of the provinces, Punjab is the most populated and agriculturally rich, followed by Sind. Baluchistan, which is primarily desert, is sparsely populated, while much of the NWFP is also barren and predominantly tribal in character.
The physical diversity of Pakistan’s provinces is more than matched by the complex ethnic and cultural composition of the general population. The chief ethno linguistic groups are Punjabis, Sindhis, Pathans, Baluchis, and a significant population of Muhajirs – Urdu-speaking refugees and their descendants who migrated to the country en masse following the partition of the subcontinent and the country’s independence in August 1947. The dominant language is Punjabi (the first language of 65 percent of the population), followed by Sindhi (11 percent), Pushto (8 percent), and Urdu (9 percent). Gujarati, Sahraike, and Baluchi are among the languages of other ethnic minorities. English is generally spoken in business circles and in government.7 Islam, the state religion, is practiced by the vast majority of the populace. Muslims make up 97 percent of the population (77 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shia), while Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians constitute the remaining 3 percent.
State and Society
In theory, Pakistan is a federal polity, committed to Islamic religious principles and parliamentary rule. The executive consists of a prime minister, who heads the government, with a president acting as chief of state. The legislative branch is bicameral and consists of a popularly elected National Assembly and a largely advisory Senate, elected indirectly by members of the provincial assemblies.8
Yet the “practice” of truly democratic and representative politics has proven elusive. Nonelected institutions hold sway over their elected counterparts, and the state has long been dominated by a military and bureaucratic elite dedicated to advancing its own interests largely to the exclusion of those of society at large.
The contours of Pakistan’s “bureaucratic-authoritarian” state emerged soon after independence in 1947, as the challenges of nation building threatened to overwhelm the modest resources of the newly created country. Almost overnight, enormous social dislocations arising from partition, pressing defense requirements, and the need to assert authority over newly acquired and disparate territories confronted the state machinery with demands it could not meet.
Partition had yielded Pakistan 18 percent of the population, 17.5 percent of the financial assets, less than 10 percent of the industrial base, and slightly over 7 percent of the employment facilities of an undivided India.9 Organizational machinery was inadequate – particularly in the regions the regime acquired – and the largely migrant political leadership had little direct contact or rapport with the indigenous population of the lands it inherited.10
The pressing need to consolidate territory and defend the nation prompted a rapid expansion of administrative machinery and wholesale adoption of the colonial British “vice regal” system of administration and resource management. This system had been long geared to maintaining law, order, and the collection of revenues on behalf of the British Empire. It included a professional civil service with a deep knowledge of local conditions as well as great access to and influence over provincial populations.11 It was an effective tool – and one readily available to the new Pakistani regime – for augmenting state revenues and financing burgeoning defense budgets.
Military influence within the society expanded apace. The outbreak of war with India over the northern princely state of Kashmir only months after independence, lingering doubts over provincial loyalties to the newly formed state, and the internal dislocations and communal conflicts that attended independence all gave the military a critical role in the creation and maintenance of the state. Defense spending became a top priority and – along with the cost of civil administration – accounted for more than three-quarters of the federal government’s budget during the first decade after independence.12 This spending was soon supplemented by western aid, as Pakistan adopted the role of junior guardian of the Persian Gulf in the Cold War.13
Yet there was little corresponding effort to ensure the supremacy of elected institutions within Pakistani society. Administrative/bureaucratic influence over the state rapidly increased, and democratic institutions decayed. By the late 1950s, the civil-military bureaucracy had consolidated its hold on the government,14 and the country settled into a mode of state rule that remained largely unchanged for the next three decades. A succession of military and civilian regimes followed, and while each professed some commitment to greater political participation, all ultimately fell short of popular expectations. Elites often opted for a controlled form of democracy; they saw politics less as a participatory affair than as something to be steered from above.15
Recently, however, this pattern appears to have changed. After more than seven years of civilian-led government, some analysts now speak of a trend toward greater democratization of Pakistani politics.16There has been a routinization of some key elements of a democratic system, including more frequent general elections, somewhat more robust political parties, and a freer press. Nevertheless, nonelected institutions continue to have great power. The first prime ministerial tenure of Benazir Bhutto and that of her successor, Nawaz Sharif, were both, in effect, terminated following clashes with members of the permanent government.17 In short, while the grip of bureaucratic authoritarianism may have loosened, its final demise is a distant prospect at best.18
Character of the Pakistani Regime
Burdened by an over developed civil-military bureaucracy and exceedingly weak elected institutions, the Pakistani government has long been marked by a lack of accountability. Power and expertise are highly concentrated and largely reside in nonelected institutions and their supporters. Politicians often serve as junior partners in state rule, sometimes providing a cloak of legitimacy for the actions of the permanent government, and at other times acting as lightning rods to deflect popular criticism as bureaucrats run the nation from behind the scenes. Not surprisingly, rule by executive ordinance has dominated legislative action, and coercion has frequently eclipsed negotiation in federal-provincial deliberations.19
Meanwhile, institutional avenues for broad-based popular expression have remained weak. Although general elections have occurred more regularly in recent years, they were infrequent for much of Pakistani history. The first general election based on a broad franchise took place in 1970, a full 23 years after independence. Political parties are still poorly evolved; they resemble movements and factions that do not generally articulate national goals and concerns.20 Banned by government at various points in the nation’s history, their precarious existence encourages them to adopt narrow political platforms, often appealing to the aspirations of particular ethnic and religious groups.21
Economic development has generally reflected the attitude that prevailed during the colonial period, stressing efficient resource exploitation, rapid economic growth, and state profit over conservation and human welfare. Over the past five decades, the country has witnessed the emergence of a profusion of low-cost, high-polluting industries governed by few environmental guidelines.22 Similarly, during the 1960s agriculture began to stress techniques intended to boost short-term production, often at the expense of long-term sustainability.
Despite relatively impressive GNP growth rates (currently about 6 percent a year), economic returns have been largely directed toward meeting defense, debt-servicing, and administrative costs while neglecting human development. Improvements in the social well-being of the population have been marginal. Long ranked among the lowest in the world in terms of human development, the country lags in such areas as infant mortality, education (particularly for females), and the alleviation of poverty.23 Social services are poor and often funded through foreign aid. Today, approximately 31 percent of the population live in absolute poverty, infant morality stands at 95 per thousand live births, and 65 percent of the adult population aged 15 and over is illiterate.24
Meanwhile, strong traditions of environmental consciousness have been absent, both within government and in society at large. Environmental legislation has been weak or nonexistent. While adoption of the Environmental Protection Ordinance in 1983 marked the country’s first explicit attempt to deal with the environment, governmental practice often does not reflect the spirit of the legislation, and efforts to improve the environment continue to confront old mind-sets, political gridlock, and institutional weakness.
Underlying the system’s lack of political accountability and its developmental approach is a state structure deeply penetrated by powerful vested interests. In the years following independence, alliances among the state bureaucracy, large landowners, and a nascent industrial bourgeoisie were secured through patronage and bribes. Thereafter, the interests of the state and its supporters largely took precedence over all else. Dominated by a mainly Punjabi elite, the political and economic system concentrated power and investment in the western half of the country, to the great disadvantage of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Ownership of land and industry remains highly concentrated, and it lies mainly in the hands of the bureaucracy and its supporters.25 Meanwhile, land grants, lucrative defense contracts, permits, loans, licenses, and jobs are awarded on the basis of personal contacts and the ability to perform political favors rather than on the basis of merit. Over time, such practices have become accepted as necessary and inevitable ways of conducting business, both within and outside government. Today, a culture of greed and an absence of civic-mindedness pervade Pakistani society.
The political and economic system has resulted in some extension of privilege. However, more often than not, this extension is a result of elites’ use of state resources to co-opt rivals and dissipate the potential challenges they pose. In the face of provincial discontent and threats of secession, the regime offers development money to provincial elites in exchange for political stability.26 Similarly, favors are conferred upon industrialists and commercial entrepreneurs to shore up loyalties. Combined with the narrow sectional politics encouraged by weak representative institutions, these elite tactics cause greater segmentation of society along lines of class and ethnicity, as well as a debilitation of organized opposition to elite interests.
Consequences of Regime Character
Such political practices exacerbate regional, ethnic, and class divisions within Pakistani society. As the state supplies patronage to certain regions and ethnic groups, it creates classes that tend to reflect regional and ethnic divides.27 Moreover, efforts to harness provincial resources to fill federal coffers breed regional alienation and resentment among provincial elites. Punjabi dominance of the civil-military bureaucracy, along with a high concentration of wealth and investment in Punjab Province, fuel accusations of unfair treatment and exploitation from other provinces and ethnic groups.
Before 1971, neglect of East Pakistan was particularly glaring. Dominance of the political system by West Pakistani elites resulted in marked economic disparities favoring West over East and wholly inadequate representation of the East’s Bengali majority in government services. Bengali resentments mounted, and support for provincial autonomy increased. By late 1970, West Pakistan’s gestures of electoral reform28 and, by extension, more equitable representation proved illusory: general election results that did not favor West Pakistan’s elite were disallowed. Consequently, in 1971 civil war and secession led to the creation of Bangladesh. Further fragmentation has been avoided, yet secessionist pressures persist, with Baluchistan, in particular, rebelling during the 1970s.
Today, provinces continue to quarrel over distribution of resources and power relative to one another and to the central government. Disputes over the waters of the Indus River are especially frequent: major canal and dam diversions in Punjab prompt accusations by Sind of unfair distribution of water. The constant contention among provinces results in costly delays in infrastructure projects.29
State practices have also fueled tensions within the provinces, particularly in Sind, Pakistan’s most multiethnic province. Neglect of the long-standing demands of a burgeoning Muhajir population in Sind’s urban centers and the general absence of broad-based representative institutions have brought ethnic and class tensions to the political breaking point.
Problems followed the division of the subcontinent in 1947, as waves of Urdu-speaking Muhajirs migrating from northern India marginalized the province’s local Sind population both ethnically and linguistically. Primarily settling in Sind’s urban centers (Karachi and Hyderabad), the new arrivals promptly filled the void created by the departure of Sind’s Hindu population to form the bulk of the middle class. They also took over a substantial portion of property left by Hindus fleeing to India. The Muhajirs came to dominate various forms of commercial and industrial activity in the province, and Urdu replaced Sindhi as the province’s official language. They also retained considerable strength in the bureaucracy, despite growing Punjabi dominance.
However, over the years waves of non-Muhajir migrants (for example, Punjabis and Pathans) in search of employment, along with the implementation of a system of placement quotas for government jobs and college entrance, curtailed Muhajir opportunities.30 Combined with efforts by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to redress Sindhi grievances during the 1970s, Muhajir alienation and resentment grew. Increasingly underrepresented within the corridors of political power and influence, yet constituting a dynamic economic and commercial force in Sind’s urban centers, Muhajirs gradually identified themselves as a people without a state.
Rural Sindhi were equally dissatisfied. Deep resentment of Muhajirs was accompanied by similar animosities toward Punjabis, who dominated a civil and military bureaucracy stationed in the interior of Sind and owned vast tracts of land within the province. Sindhi underrepresentation within commerce and industry magnified these resentments.31
By the early 1980s, the long absence of nationally based political parties had reinforced organization of loyalties along narrow ethnic lines. In rural areas, rising Sindhi nationalism led to clashes between Sindhi guerrilla bands and Punjabi troops. Rural-urban migration continued unabated, taxing the absorptive capacities of cities and heightening competition among diverse groups for limited urban resources. War in Afghanistan added a heavy influx of refugees, narcotics, and arms to the urban mix, creating a huge black market economy and strengthening the power and influence of organized crime in the process. Not surprisingly, violence became commonplace in Sind’s urban centers, with the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) championing the Muhajir cause.
As turmoil has escalated in the 1980s and 1990s, the Muhajirs have demanded recognition as the fifth nationality of Pakistan, a fairer allocation of provincial resources, and greater representation in elected bodies, federal and provincial services, and the police force.32 Yet official efforts to address these problems have been inadequate, because of chronic institutional weakness at both the provincial and the national levels and a lack of support for the Muhajir cause within political elites.33 The conflict has bred suspicions of collusion between India and MQM “terrorists.” In addition, efforts to meet Mujahir demands would compromise powerful vested interests, especially in rural Sind.34
The highly inegalitarian character of the state also influences economic policy, often to the detriment of stability. Although successive regimes have achieved relatively impressive aggregate economic growth, they have not, for the most part, concerned themselves with the equitable distribution of the results of that growth. As a result, the ranks of the dispossessed have grown and their grievances have intensified. Meanwhile, the political strength of the military, the need to maintain internal order, and the rivalry with India have kept military spending high. As a result, Pakistan has relied heavily on foreign borrowing and development assistance and has accumulated considerable foreign debt. Today, along with annual defense spending averaging 6.8 percent of GDP – the highest in South Asia – debt servicing represents a major constraint on government spending. By the early 1990s, defense spending and debt servicing accounted for more than 80 percent of total government expenditures.35
For a time, remittances from nationals working abroad tended to mask the severe resource constraints facing the government. They accounted for almost 40 percent of exchange earnings and nearly 8 percent of GNP at their height in the early 1980s.36 Yet by mid decade, their decline combined with a low domestic savings rate and tightening conditions on international loans to dampen growth.
By 1987-88, loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were tied to a structural adjustment package requiring deficit reduction, controls on inflation, and a series of other measures intended to cut spending and boost revenues. Policies aimed at meeting IMF guidelines included a withdrawal of food subsidies, bans on government recruitment, increased privatization, and higher taxation of the business community. Unemployment increased and incomes of labor and the poor declined throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.37
Recent improvements in aggregate economic performance and some signs of renewed investor confidence in the country suggest a better economic picture. Yet problems remain. Domestic savings and investment are still low. Revenues from direct taxation are especially troubling, with only about 1 percent of the population paying direct income tax.38 The existing system of tax collection is plagued by corruption and inefficiency, and vested interests oppose major reform; Punjab’s politically powerful feudal landlords are especially intransigent.
Also troubling is the low employment intensity of recent growth. This phenomenon is partly attributable to a shift from labor-intensive to more capital-intensive industries and to continuing state subsidies that favor capital over labor. Since 1977, the number of jobs generated per unit of investment in industry has declined at a rate of 11 percent per year.39 Current estimates suggest that each 1 percent gain in GDP translates to a mere 0.4 percent growth in employment.40 Meanwhile, efforts to develop human resources remain weak, and civil strife in the nation’s urban centers drains revenues and deters the creation of a truly stable climate for investment and job creation. These trends threaten long-term prospects for a healthy economy.
Environmental Scarcity and the Pakistani State
Pakistan’s physical environment has deteriorated markedly since independence. State policies and the character of the state itself have created critical environmental scarcities throughout the country. These scarcities have been demand-induced (the result of a growing population and rising per capita resource consumption), supply-induced (a consequence of resource depletion and degradation), and structural (the result of an unequal distribution of resources within society).41 Moreover, they have been accompanied by processes of “resource capture” and “ecological marginalization.”
Resource capture occurs when population growth combines with a decline in the quantity and quality of renewable resources to encourage powerful groups to alter the distribution of resources in their favor.42 Resources are in effect appropriated by elites, increasing environmental scarcity among poorer or weaker groups as a result. Groups experiencing this scarcity are then often ecologically marginalized as they migrate to rural or urban regions that are ecologically fragile. The resulting high population densities in the receiving areas, along with the migrants’ lack of capital and knowledge of how to protect local resources, act to generate further environmental damage and chronic poverty.43
In the case of Pakistan, such scarcities and the patterns of behavior they generate owe much to the state’s lack of accountability, its vice regal approach to economic development, and its penetration by special interests.
Lack of Accountability and Rising Scarcity
Over the years, the widespread lack of accountability of state officials and their supporters, along with Pakistan’s vice regal approach to development, has produced excessive exploitation of the country’s resource base. The result has been a progressively increasing nation wide scarcity of renewable resources (Figure 1).
Fashioned to meet the needs of a colonial ruler, the vice regal system was founded on the principle of efficient resource exploitation of the “hinterland” to generate maximum profit for the British Empire. With rapid economic growth as this system’s chief aim and Britain as its sole focus, issues of resource sustainability and of the host population’s welfare were, at best, secondary. Early on, therefore, the perception of the appropriate relationship between natural resources and human need was distorted.44
With independence, Pakistan’s elite adopted this colonial model wholesale. The system and its organizational culture remained intact, only the identities of its chief beneficiaries changed. Exploitation of the nation’s resource base continued apace, although now in the service of the new state’s elites and their supporters instead of a foreign colonizer. The masses remained the last to be considered.
Models of national development stressed growth in commodity production and consumption as the benchmarks of success,45 and industrial and agricultural strategies emphasized cheap and rapid production at the expense of conservation. Industries using low-cost, highly polluting technologies proliferated. Mega-projects, such as reservoirs and dams, were conceived with an eye more to boosting national development than to their impact on local communities.46 And agriculture relied on techniques aimed at increasing short-term production. Although heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides raised yields, the potential long-term impacts were generally ignored.
The pervasive lack of accountability inherent in the political system reinforced these features of the Pakistani development process. Strong and institutionalized means for popular expression and input were not available to constrain social exploitation and environmental degradation. The state did not legislate rigorous environmental guidelines; elites unburdened by concerns of responsibility to the broader public ignored those guidelines that did exist.
It was also impossible to change significantly the distribution of wealth yielded by development. Since elites could not be held responsible for their actions, the fruits of development went mainly to the government and its supporters. There was minimal articulation of popular demands for greater investment in human development, and there was little pressure on elites to respond to such demands.
Over time, the effects of vice regal development and low accountability became increasingly apparent. Unhampered exploitation of resources in the name of economic growth encouraged the rise of supply-induced scarcity as development practices degraded and depleted renewable resources, such as agricultural land, water, and forests. At the same time, lack of investment in human development and social welfare fueled scarcity from the supply side, as a highly impoverished, poorly educated, and politically disenfranchised Islamic population grew rapidly. Meanwhile, the weakness of institutional constraints on elite practices ensured that a seriously inequitable form of development proceeded largely unchecked, which perpetuated elite privilege and, consequently, structural scarcity.
Scarcity and the Penetrated State
Environmental scarcity and resource degradation have been accompanied by a gradual increase in resource capture by elites and a consequent ecological marginalization of large numbers of poor and disadvantaged. Here, environmental scarcity has interacted with the highly penetrated nature of the Pakistani state to encourage both processes (Figure 2).
As noted above, unhampered exploitation of resources along with high population growth have progressively eroded the country’s natural resource base. As scarcities of critical renewable resources – such as forests, land, and water – worsen, their prices increase, which in turn increases the incentive for powerful groups to acquire them and extract quasi-monopolistic economic rents. The deeply penetrated structure of the Pakistani state encourages this appropriation or “capture” of scarce natural resources: elites often already have preferential access to and control over resources; moreover, resources are a key means by which power and privilege are retained and expanded in the country’s corrupt political system.
To reward, co-opt, or bribe potential challengers, the Pakistani regime often distributes concessions allowing powerful individuals and groups to exploit natural resources. This political behavior breeds chronic corruption and inefficiency: bribes and buy offs are commonplace at the highest levels of the state, and these practices are replicated at lower levels and in private transactions. Most importantly, it allows favored individuals and well connected entrepreneurs to appropriate valuable state lands, forests, and other resources at relatively low cost.
Such activity yields great profit for those involved, since they can sell, rent, or speculate on the resources in question. It also leads to misery for the local communities that depend on these resources for their livelihoods. The result is often the ecological marginalization of those affected. As resources are appropriated and exploited for profit, they become less available to local populations, increasing pressure on remaining stocks. These stocks are quickly depleted and degraded, and growing impoverishment eventually leads people to migrate, often to Pakistan’s urban centers.
The rural-urban migrants generally settle in low-income areas, characterized by high population densities and rudimentary living conditions. Because of high urban land prices, they are often forced to build their settlements on the least desirable lands – areas that frequently flood, that lack basic services, or that lie beside transportation infrastructure, such as highways and railways. Despite their low quality, these lands are also often subject to resource capture by powerful urban entrepreneurs, and the terms of settlement for incoming migrants can be highly exploitative.