KABUL, Afghanistan, July 18 (UPI) -- Afghan planners intend to solve Kabul's housing crisis by building a new "Greater Kabul" to the northeast of the city, officials said.
Abdul Wahab Sadaat, deputy director of city services, told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network at least 3 million of the capital's 5 million residents live in illegal substandard housing.
"These houses -- which make up about 75 percent of the houses in Kabul -- are also vulnerable to earthquake, floods and other natural disasters," he said.
The city's population was about 1 million in 2001 and has grown to 5 million. Experts say that has strained resources.
Noor Ahmad Jawad, a meteorologist at Kabul University, predicted severe water shortages by 2020 if Kabul continues to draw on aquifers at the current rate.
The plans for "Greater Kabul" call for a complex that would eventually house 3 million people, built over the next 15 to 20 years. The cost is estimated at $35.5 billion, with $24 billion to come from private investors and the rest from government aid.
"The new, greater Kabul plan addresses all the shortages and problems which we currently have in Kabul city," Sadaat said.