Friday, 21 December 2012

COMMUNITY PROFESSOR KATANA EXPLAINING THE SDI RITUALS, DECEMBER 2012

Peter Kassaija, the enthusiastic teacher spearheading the partnership at Makerere stated “ We want students to go beyond sitting in the office and into the field in order to get to know the communities which they plan for. For the federation members the lines of communication are now open and they [the students] will learn as much from you as you will from them.” This is a welcome attitude and one from which many academic institutions can learn. Practical field experience of informal settlements not only debunks myths but exposes students to conditions and people who are normally excluded or given mere “lip service” in planning decisions about their own areas. During this process students will be forced to engage beyond the confines of the classroom with forms of knowledge that are not included in their curriculum's but which are absolutely vital to the future equitable development of cities.
It is these types of partnerships that have the potential to not only create new spaces for learning but also enable informal community knowledge to become part of citywide slum upgrading processes. Across the SDI network tireless federation members are working to ensure that the knowledge of community professors is taken seriously and incorporated in developmental frameworks. If we are truly to change the segregated spatial form and exclusionary policies of future cities it is time that we all sat up and took very seriously the lessons which community professors can teach us. As Katana aptly sums up, “ An old broom sweeps better than a new broom. That is community members they have experience of all the corners and the problems in their communities.”

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

SANITATION INTERVENTION IN SMALL TOWNS OF MAHARASHTRA, DECEMBER 2012

Based on slum profiles conducted by Mahila Milan and Federation, more than 50% of the total population remains unserved with toilets. Therefore a proposal was submitted to construct a new toilet in Saint Mary Church (Ahmednagar), Anna Bhau Sathe, Wadala (Nasik) and Numani Nagar (Malegaon) along with repairs of two existing toilet blocks in  Anna Bhau Sathe (Ahmednagar) and Amprapali (Nasik) and grant funds to make this happen were finalized.  Then the federations informed us about recent events in their city ….

In Ahmednagar: the original plan was to construct a new toilet at Saint Mary and repair the toilet in Anna Bhau Sathe.  Over the last couple of months, the Mahila Milan leaders at Ahmednagar had been in conversation with the local Municipal representative and  municipal authorities. These discussions have borne fruit and the Municipality has begun the construction of toilets at Saint Mary Church!

In Nasik: the original plan was to construct a new toilet at Anna Bhau Sathe, Wadala and repairing
Amrapali toilet. Because Anna Bhau Sathe slum is on a private land, a toilet cannot be constructed on it.

In Malegaon: the original plan was to construct a new toilet in Numani Nagar, however the new elected local municipal representatives, have taken up the work of meeting the toilet needs in Numani Nagar and other settlements.

Clearly we see this as a feature of communities feeling empowered to have discussions once they have some funds in their pockets. It triggers a response from politicians and administration who then want to supply them with what they are entitled to so.

Since assured grant exist for these cities, federation members now suggest the following:

Nasik - Repairs of existing toilets in Amrapali slums
Ahmednagar - Repairs of existing toilets and constructing new toilets at Anna Bhau Sathe slum and Munjuba Chowk
Malegaon -Individual toilet loans in different settlements

Setting precedents where community collective pursuit of entitlements begins with the Mahila Milan taking initiatives is critical. When modest funds are made available, their visit to city administrations seeking permission often induces the city to provide the facility because most often they have the money but it is not their priority to utilize it. This also invokes a sense of pride ownership and begins to set an example to others about also mimicking this action, only now someone else has shown the way and can accompany them to get the next and the next facility.







Monday, 10 December 2012

A REPORT ON ODISHA BY SUNDAR BURRA, DECEMBER 2012

Sundar Burra was invited by Shri I.Srinivas, IAS, Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Government of Odisha (GOO), to speak at a capacity building workshop for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The workshop was held in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, December 8, 2012 and it opened with a prize giving ceremony in which the Chief Minister gave awards to various ULBs. Altogether there were 103 ULBs represented with only a few municipal corporation and municipalities. The vast majority of ULBs were Notified Area Committees (NACs) with low levels of population. Each ULB was represented by usually two elected persons and one official. About 400 people attended the function.

Ms. Madhu Kishwar of Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, spoke about urban street vendors and the laws, polices and programmes concerning these groups. There were two speakers from WIPRO and TCS who made brief presentations on E-Governance. Sundar Burra and Monalisa Mohanty from SPARC spoke about the problems faced in slum upgradation, slum resettlement and slum redevelopment under various different government programmes like the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) in different States. SPARC emphasized the role of community participation at all stages of the process including the preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs).

The Principal Secretary Shri Srinivas, though he had joined only a few months ago, has introduced a path-breaking  legislation in the Assembly for the Rights of the Urban Poor to live in cities. It is expected that this bill will become law during the current session of the Assembly. Shri Srinivas is an excellent officer whose heart is in the right place. He accompanied Monalisa Mohanty and Sunder to a slum on the day before the workshop and interacted with the Mahila Milan women from different cities in Odisha. Both from the point of view of the project on urban poverty that PRIA and SPARC are doing together and also from a more general perspective, it is important for us to engage with  Shri Srinivas and showcase his efforts in Odisha to a national audience. How to do this can be the subject of discussion. It was deeply heartening to observe his commitment.

Monday, 5 November 2012

TALKING ABOUT TOILETS WITH AVIK ROY, NOVEMBER 2012

In August 2012, Jack Sims of WTO (World Toilet Organization) together with Avik Roy and three others examined toilets designed, constructed and managed by communities in Mumbai with the assistance of the Alliance. The object of their visit was to explore the possibility of developing a financial sustainable strategy for the management and maintenance of toilets built in slums. 

After concluding a week long meeting with the MM and the NSDF leaders managing the sanitation projects, Avik met with the members of SPARC. Avik heads an organization called Base of the Pyramid (BOP) that works with numerous development organizations. He assisted Jeb Brugman and C.K. Prahalad with their work in actualizing the practice lin
ked to working with the bottom of the pyramid. The discussion between Avik and SPARC was to both to receive feedback from the team as well as to help the team understand the Alliance's conditions, concerns, and strategies to further improve the functions of the toilet blocks.


What SPARC said:
Main concerns:
Since partnerships are required to be sustained over an extended period of time, the first phase should evaluate the values, assumptions, and capacities of each organization to handle each other’s functioning. These projects are successful if soft money and grants blend with hard money in an attempt to develop a market savvy strategy needed to acknowledge this blend. Eventually, the obvious and evident aspects will pale in comparison to the issues, challenges, and problems which both the organizations will have to jointly face.
About working with communities:
Although SPARC is a vital partner, this process has to include the leaders of MM and NSDF who will be managing the sanitation program. Any suggestions will be accepted if, through trial and error, it demonstrates an increase in the community's’ collective empowerment.
About the concept of SPA:
The concept of reformulating toilet as a SPA seems disconnected with the Indian concept.  In turn, we need to look at an Indian name which people can relate to.
About working in different wards in Mumbai:
WTO should look at locations from a ward wise perspective.  SPARC can select a ward and develop demo projects which can be scaled up at the ward level.
About working in smaller towns:
The slums of Mumbai are consolidated, thus working in Mumbai is equivalent to working in a “retrofitting” context.  Consideration should be given to working in smaller towns where the slums are not so dense and also to working at city scale.
Working on sanitation:
Sanitation should be seen as an issue to provide universal sanitation; as providing safe and dignified provisions where other amenities and services make the facility a community hub that is attractive and pulls in participation.

What they said:
Avik and his team agreed upon concerns raised by SPARC and committed that this project will be a pilot project and will be treated patiently. He is also trying to bring the private actors in this process to make it financially viable. 
Further his team is also thinking of changing the concept name from community SPA to a name which appeals to slum communities.












Friday, 2 November 2012

DHARAVI NEWS: SECTOR 5 INAUGURATION GETS DISRUPTED, NOVEMBER 2012

Dharavi redevelopment project is continuing to remain in flux. Somehow, the recommendations and suggestions made by the Committee of Experts is never actually explored in the spirit of the advise.
The recommendation not to take all five sectors together, but  only start with sector 4 was initially suggested. Sector 4 is a dense sector where the communities have themselves begun to work on exploring solutions. Instead the state and MHADA chose sector five which does not produce robust solutions for the rest of Dharavi.
Another recommendation made after sector five was selected was to develop a master plan for Dharavi and then work through NGOs with the community. Unfortunately, without implementing any of the recommendations, an inauguration ceremony was initiated and after eight years  the people are once again resisting the intervention.
“Why are the benefits of capitalization of land not being shared with the people of Dharavi?”

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

WATER FOR WHOM, OCTOBER 2012

Even though the BMC  project on paper sounds promising, it fails to specify which section of the population will actually benefit from the plan.


ACUMEN VISITS BANGALORE TO MEET FEDERATION, OCTOBER 2012

As a follow up to the meeting in August where the Acumen team met with the SPARC team at the Khetwadi office,, the alliance shared data about loans given, cities and towns where it was given and also how the repayment has been scheduled. The discussion led to the team from Acumen visiting Bangalore and a date was finalized and Thomas from the federation facilitated the visit and meetings with households who had taken loans.


The visit:
The team first visited the Federation office at Bangalore, where Thomas explained them about the loan portfolio. They discussed on the number of loans given, the reasons for which families sought the loans and the overall management of the loan structure. Chinnamma who works with the families directly with the loans and savings, showed them around to meet some of the families that took the incremental loans for housing and upgrades. The Acumen team talked to Ragini from the L.R. Nagar settlement who had taken a loan to do housing repairs. They had a chat with Silvy Mary whose house had to be reconstructed following destruction with floods, since her house was situated on a low lying area. She had taken a loan therefore to perform major repairs to her broken house. Likewise, they also met a few more families and women who had taken loans to perform incremental upgrades to their houses and got an enlightening experience of how by upgrading the houses incrementally by using small loans helps communities to improve housing conditions
The team further plans to talk to John and know more about the incremental loan structure.


Monday, 1 October 2012

WATER AND MANKHURD, OCTOBER 2012

Jockin takes Municipal Commissioner to examine the water challenges of Mankhurd


Jockin accompanied the Additional Municipal Commissioner, Rajeev Jalota, to households relocated to Mankhurd in order to visually study the challenges of water access to these families. The households which they visited usually get water once in two days. In addition, they examined the pumps of each of the buildings to determine how to increase pressure to get additional water, calculated the electricity needed for these pumps, and established the additional costs that the society would need to incur. 





The Municipal Commissioner along with Jockin have established a two fold solution. All of the buildings in plot no. 98 (about 17 buildings) will form an association and they will be treated as one consumer with one bill. They will get adequate water and they will make a collective payment to the municipality. This solution saves the community to additional payments for electricity for booster pumps to draw in water and ensures reduced collection costs and regular payments to the municipality. 






IMPLICATIONS:

1. In general the city by default does not give proper water supply to poor neighborhood. This process begins to address the inequity linked issues. 

2. Costs: When supply is poor and meager, households and buildings put additional pumps and spend on electricity. This will reduce their costs. 

3. Since the city does not bill properly and also does not regularly manage to document collections, often a huge bill suddenly surfaces with additional penalties. Through the revised system, the Mahila Milan can collect daily dues from 1,200 households and make a single payment, keeping 2% for their running costs for collections etc. 

If this experiment is successful, then the federation will explore this model in two other areas thus consolidating the role of the Mahila Milan as well as ensuring water access and proper payments. 








Sunday, 30 September 2012

REFLECTING ON CHANGING DEMOGRAPHY IN INDIA, SEPTEMBER 2012

http://www.economist.com/node/21563412 In this article there is a general conclusion that India and its cities are not equipped for growth and while there are some exceptions, like Surat, in Gujarat, most cities with its slums and poor infrastructure are ill equipped to grow. It makes we wonder how we view history and cities and what came first good organized cities which invited investments, or investments that produced good and bad impacts and produced planned cities. More importantly how can we examine planning strategies that can have a disconnect from the past which ignores the expanding presence of the poor in cities. Sheela Patel

A mainly rural country is ill-prepared for its coming urban boom http://www.economist.com/node/21563412












September, 29th 2012 | from the print edition some quotes from the article.

Putting off urbanisation can also mean postponing prosperity. When farmers leave the land to work in factories, call centres or almost anywhere else, their incomes and consumption almost always go up, lifting assorted development indicators. In China just over half the population is now urban.
Aromar Revi, director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), says that India’s 100 biggest cities, with 16% of its total population, contribute 43% of its national income. Even slum-dwellers are often productive manufacturers and traders.
Some urban centres will become megacities. According to one vision, India’s entire western seaboard could turn into a single conurbation, stretching from Ahmedabad in Gujarat in the north, past Mumbai and south to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. Inland, Delhi and its environs could be a hub for 60m-70m people, provided there is enough water.
Within two decades India will probably have six cities considerably bigger than New York, each with at least 10m people: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.
India is ill-equipped to make such places attractive drivers of growth and better living. “I see no improvement in thinking about cities,” says a senior figure in construction and retailing. Much land is privately held, but markets are opaque and development too often depends on cronies with political connections.
Mumbai is especially bad. “Property in the city has run riot,” says Mr Guzder, the Parsi businessman. Towers shoot up, especially around the Sea Link, a bridge connecting the southern part of the city to the north. “But we have no urban infrastructure, no widening of roads, no provision of police.” Prithviraj Chavan, the chief minister of Maharashtra, blames the city’s woes on a “deep nexus of property and political funding”.

Friday, 28 September 2012

SUMMER INTERNS /VOLUNTEERS AT SPARC, SEPTEMBER 2012

Through the years at any given time we have many interns and volunteers who come to work with us. This summer we had three interns – two from the USA and one from France. We had two volunteers as well for a short period of time.
Ariane Cohin worked on the incremental housing report, and did some diagrams of the evolution of the construction (sections and plans) for every household. She did some 3D models of these houses on Sketch-up as well.
Ginny Fahs worked on two major projects: launching the SPARC Citywatch Blog and doing background research on the possibility of instituting a private donations platform through the SPARC website.


One of the volunteers, Nova, helped in creating state and city databases regarding urban re- forms, local NGO and CBO networks, summarized reports on consultations at Kerala, updated housing and sanitation tables for the Annual Report and prepared the DSR for Pune and Ahmed- nagar in Excel. Lastly, also created a reference for charts in Excel and what they are used for. While Jayesh helped in doing some proof reading of the reports.

Learnings from SPARC:
We asked the interns and volunteers what they have taken from the SPARC experience. Some of the feedback that we got was:
  • Better idea on incremental housing process & challenges they face while upgrading their houses
  • How difficult it is to implement any broad strategy in slums because of the huge variety of problems that require a different approach and solutions
  • Learnt about Indian politics & policies & current events surrounding urban poverty and slums
  • What effective community organization looks like, methods of mobilizing & catalyzing activity on the ground

Monday, 17 September 2012

THE DIRTY PICTURE OF SANITATION, JULY 2012

In July 2012, the ministry of Urban Development of the Government of India published an advisory to cities about the challenges of sanitation and a national commitment to universal sanitation provision in urban India. In 2009 the Cabinet passed a policy on universal urban sanitation called the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, and released resources for a National Sanitation campaign. 400 cities were provided resources to undergo a city wide sanitation review and be- tween that survey and the census the picture of urban India is definitely DIRTY.

Clearly there are technical and financial challenges in dealing with provision of universal sanitation.
Firstly, the country does not have a universal commitment to treat sewerage and most cities lack sewerage management and hardly have sewers.

Secondly, if most areas of a city or town are deemed ‘slums’ and most of these are not recognized, the challenges are that they have no water and sanitation.

Thirdly, dense slums with houses less that 200 sq feet can hardly have toilets inside the house if there is no water and sewerage disposal. Yet ambivalence about community toilets makes this provision of sanitation impossible.

Fourthly, slums – which are every politicians vote banks – find that the possibility of a community toilet being built in their areas is one more location of a battle between parties to own and manage the toilet and often the community which should be managing this gets left behind.

And finally, no one who does not defecate in the open cares about the plight of those who do. The solution lies in a commitment to make sanitation universal, come what may.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT SPARC, SEPTEMBER 2012

Andrew Milner asks Sheela Patel questions about SPARC and Slum Dwellers International (SDI) for a Ford Foundation document he is preparing

Was there any single incident which led you to set up SPARC/SDI (or its precursor – I’m not too clear about the details here)? Could you tell me about it?
I worked in an agency that served a poor neighbourhood. We worked very hard to make the services work for the poorest and we were generally effective. However a series of different events culminated in some of us leaving to set up SPARC. One being that cities demolished the homes of the most vulnerable and all our efficient attempts to improve their education and health were unable to withstand this violence. In fear of the NGO where we worked to challenge the city for what it was doing, but willing to take grants to work with the poor made us realise that as organisations get more consolidated they fear risks. So SPARC was born.

I gather that, in the beginning, it was more a movement than an organization. Was there already the groundswell of such a movement? How did you find adherents in the early days? How many people were involved? What – physically – did you do to start a movement?
We registered SPARC as an organisation in December 1984, exploring the institutional requirements to partner with people’s organisations, and we began with exploring issues of the most vulnerable, the pavement dwellers in Mumbai, and began discussing lives of migrant women who came to the city to follow their husbands and lived on pavements. It took a long time to convince women that there was value in meeting us even if we did not give them welfare goodies. In July 1985, our supreme court gave judgement in a Public Interest Litigation from 1981, in which after commiserating the plight of pavement dwellers the judgement stated that the duty of the city to keep its pavements cleaned for all superseded the rights to life and livelihood of the pavement dwellers and gave the city right to clear pavements by November 1st. In early 1985 we had a small office in the midst of pavement dwellers in Byculla which was the garage behind a pubic dispensary, and pavement dwellers began to come there to work out what to do. Then pavement dwellers, men and women, came to check rumours about evictions, and while the men wanted to fight the evictions, the women wanted to negotiate to live in cities.
With no data about pavement dwellers and research institutions unwilling to do a census, we undertook a census with full involvement of the communities (entitled  We, The Invisible) and justified the plight of pavement dwellers. There were no evictions that year and many complex reasons can account for that, but it gave us the legitimacy we sought with the poor about the need to explore issues of identity inclusion and concerns about issues they could not solve as neighbourhoods. They formed a Pavement Dwellers Association. It was watching this that NSDF (National Slum Dwellers Federation) formed in 1975 to deal with evictions of slum dwellers, that Jockin and his colleagues began to visit us and offered to get into an alliance in 1986 at which time the alliance of the three organisations was formed.

Can you recall some of your early struggles? How difficult was it to get the movement going? (Official resistance? Resistance or reluctance among the shack/pavement dwellers?)
Actually compared to the challenges young organisations face today, we had grant makers giving us modest amounts of money to explore our process, government officials ready to listen to us although they did not know how to give us what we wanted, and much greater openness to engage, but little policy to support the process.
It helped that everyone agreed that habitat options were not easy, and our saying we were not experts but would explore this together made us vulnerable but equals. What we could do is initiate our role as a bridge between crucial and critical mechanisms to get to admission in schools, get a ration card for subsidized food, admission to public hospitals, bank accounts, manage crisis at police stations, which have procedural challenges which they learnt, and through them teaching others the federations began to develop their knowledge sharing and early impact of association.

Were there times when you thought it wasn’t going to work?
The complete lack of space to explore rights, of policy and interest about urban poverty was very frustrating and we never gave up but often wondered if we could ever get the pavement dwellers housing, because the strategies we had developed for them were beginning to get other vulnerable groups housing options if they were to be removed for infrastructure projects.

In your eyes, what was your first success? Was there a kind of breakthrough moment?
The pavement dwellers census was the breakthrough as was the alliance with NSDF.

How did the Ford grant come about – can you recall the first contact?
The first Ford grant came to rejuvenate the modest NSDF network which was of 8 cities when we met them and grew to 20 cities at the end of the first grant. The second grant was to consolidate the process which it did, and the third grant helped develop scalable projects in housing, sanitation and relocation. However in each instance the person who facilitated the grant left and we were the institutional history of that amazing support.

In your estimation, what was the importance of the Ford grant for you?
It served to develop and incubate what we believe to be one of the important innovations in urban development, which is the federation model, and give us a free reign to evolve it while we worked with communities and their federations, national governments and international actors. We also persuaded Ford to give SDI a grant to develop its institutional structure, and today it remains one of the few global organisations that works on advocacy and engages international development institutions.

I gather that, at first, you and the others behind SPARC/SDI resisted the idea of creating a formal organization, but that Ford was very keen for you to do so. What made you change your mind?
We resisted creating a formal structure before the constituency of its members were ready for it…Ford facilitated this process by not being prescriptive and allowing elements to develop when federations were ready.

Finally, I wonder if you could give some ‘then and now’ examples which will help illustrate what SPARC/SDI has achieved and how far it has come?
SPARC stands for Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres. Our first office in Byculla was named over to the pavement dwellers to run as an Area Resource Centre which is owned and man- aged by communities, and now in India and SDI such centres are in every city (often, several in a city) depending on the geography of the locations. SPARC through its alliance now works with 70 cites, the national government and has facilitated many policies. Our work in enumeration has been precedent setting. When we began SPARC we had no path to follow other than that which emerged through our interactions with communities. We developed a series of rituals and practices which we call enumerations, savings and loans, peer exchanges, precedent setting which are now practices by SDI affiliates as well. Community leaders from SDI affiliates sit in events and policy discussions with international and national politicians and technical professionals and represent the views of the poor. Our work in infrastructure, housing and relocation now informs the practice of many international agencies who commission SDI to undertake these processes which we do through a very decentralized strategy. We have recently begun to explore how originally provided grants are leveraged in different phases of our work, and SDI will undertake similar assessments to challenge the manner in which monitoring and evaluations are done of programs.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

STATUS OF ACCESS TO SANITATION TO URBAN POOR, SEPTEMBER 2012


According to the National Urban Sanitation Policy, as of 2009, 12.04 million (7.87 %) urban households do not have access to latrines and defecate in the open; approx. 18.88 million (27.63%) urban households use either community or shared latrines. 12.47 million (18.5%) households do not have access to a drainage network; 26.83 million (39.8%) households are connected to open drains. The data also shows that the situation is worse in non-notified slums (slums that are on central government land and others not formally recognized by the municipal government) that have no legal tenure status and are therefore not entitled to civic provision of basic services: the percentage of notified and non-notified slums without latrines is 17 percent and 51 percent respectively. More than 37% of the total human excreta generated in urban India are disposed off unsafely.
Since 2010, SELAVIP a private foundation that supports housing projects to shelter very poor families living in cities of Latin America, Africa and Asia has been giving grants to SPARC to assist poor and vulnerable households that cannot pay their community contribution under the ongoing BSUP projects being implemented by the Alliance in Pune and Puri.
For 2013, SELAVIP had asked NGOs to again submit proposals on the same grounds of supporting very poor families. But this time, SPARC thought of making use of these funds to provide either individual toilet to families who can afford to put in some amount of contribution, renovate & repair existing community toilet blocks or construct new toilet blocks in slums where there are no toilets at all. Over the past 26 years, the Alliance has observed that small neighbourhood associations of the poor, sometimes self-organized and sometimes organized by NGOs, are unable to effectively negotiate with service providers to cater to their needs – be it a water tap, relief against evictions or a toilet. Increasingly, land-based entitlements including sanitation require the aggregation of a very large critical mass of households with unmet needs to make their presence felt and to seek response to their demands.
In order to come up with slums where the project can be implemented, an analysis of the data collected through settlement profiling conducted by the Federation and Mahila Milan was taken into consideration. We took up three cities of Maharashtra –Ahmadnagar (12 settlements), Malegaon (6 settlements) and Nasik (14 settlements) and decided to concentrate on only those settlements where Mahila Milan and Federation have a presence.

What the data analysis says

Ahmadnagar
  • 2 toilet blocks need repairs in terms of providing water, electricity connection.
  • 4 settlements have no toilets along with insufficient land to construct a new toilet block
  • 2 settlements though having community toilets are not sufficient for the population size. Having space to construct new toilet blocks provision of individual toilets is also a possibility
Malegaon
  • 1 settlement where communities have enough space to construct individual toilets and can even afford to pay for it if given a loan.
  • 4 settlements have no toilets thus defecate in the open. Also there is no land to construct new toilet blocks.
Nasik
  • 6 settlements have individual toilets
  • 4 toilet blocks need repairing – fitting doors, taps, water & electricity connections
  • 1 settlement which has no toilet facility therefore people defecate in the open

Monday, 10 September 2012

THE GUARDIAN MET SDI AT THE WORLD URBAN FORUM, SEPTEMBER 2012

Guardian article on the power of slum surveys to give voice to millions of slum dwellers – who, in spite of their numbers, remain largely invisible – excluded from claiming their rights to the city, from state investment and from participating in urban planning. Surveys have helped fight evictions and produce strategies that work for the urban poor  - more case studies in the April 2012 edition of Environment and Urbanisation.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

SUPPORTING DATA COLLECTION BY THE POOR, SHEELA PATEL, SEPTEMBER 2012


Data in the sphere of development has been effectively used for big picture questions like measuring levels of poverty and malnutrition or assessing the health and educational standards of a country or region’s population. For those of us who have been working on a smaller scale on issues like urban poverty, data about cities is very silent on issues related to poverty, slums and all forms of informality. Information is never accurate, it is always outdated, and it is seldom comprehensive. Often just a few informal settlements will be included. At the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and Slum Dwellers International (SDI), we have found that using the poor to collect
and record data about themselves both develops their capabilities and produces better data.

SPARC and SDI use what we call ‘enumerations’ –data about slums and their land and amenities status, and data about households. We find that this is a powerful tool. First, it creates the organizational form of social movements: when everyone answers the same questions about who they are, what they do in the city, where they live and what their challenges are, it produces an identity; it produces solidarity and it forms the basis for developing a consensus on collective priorities. It also forms the basis for dialogue with the city or state, both to legitimize data that the poor collect about themselves and to define what the development issues are and where investments should be made. Because the data can be aggregated and disaggregated, they can also become a benchmark of impact and the value of investments. 
In many cases, foundations have assisted us in developing the infrastructure and capability to design, collect and store data. Often grantmakers need to see the impact and value of slum dwellers collecting information before they become convinced about financing the process. Generally, they see the collection, management and use of data as activities for researchers,academics and state agencies; their initial view of communities collecting data is that it is an unnecessary duplication.

However, we have been able to demonstrate that communities can often collect better data about themselves and use it more effectively than professionals can. Not only would it be extremely expensive to contract an organization, say, to undertake interviews with the inhabitants of 200 informal settlements from all over Namibia, or to map and produce profiles of 330 informal settlements in Cuttack (India), but the professionals would face formidable obstacles because of their lack of local knowledge. They would be working in areas with no maps, no lists of buildings, often no
street names or details of where the settlement’s boundaries are. There would be pressure on interviewers to work quickly. Furthermore, they may not speak the language of those they interview, which adds to the costs and to the difficulties of getting accurate responses. They would also have to contend with suspicion from people who feel
threatened by outsiders asking questions – for instance, those who fear eviction, those engaged in illegal activities, or illegal immigrants.


Through our advocacy over time, more and more cities and government institutions have been commissioning data gathering projects from organizations of the poor and the NGOs that work with them. They have seen that the organizations that conventionally collect data don’t know how to work in slums, and the results of community-driven
exercises have surprised them. In Old Fadama in Accra, for example, the enumerations showed a much larger population than local government estimates; it also showed the scale of residents’ involvement with the local economy and the extent of public infrastructure and services. This documentation helped discourage successive
governments from their intention to evict. By contrast, the enumerations in Joe Slovo in Cape Town showed a smaller than expected population, which made in situ upgrading, which locals had been agitating for, more feasible.

These are just two examples of the sort of detailed and accurate picture of informal settlements that can emerge when the poor collect data about themselves, and the uses to which this can be put.

SUPPORTING DATA COLLECTION BY THE POOR, SHEELA PATEL, SEPTEMBER 2012


Data in the sphere of development has been effectively used for big picture questions like measuring levels of poverty and malnutrition or assessing the health and educational standards of a country or region’s population. For those of us who have been working on a smaller scale on issues like urban poverty, data about cities is very silent on issues related to poverty, slums and all forms of informality. Information is never accurate, it is always outdated, and it is seldom comprehensive. Often just a few informal settlements will be included. At the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and Slum Dwellers International (SDI), we have found that using the poor to collect and record data about themselves both develops their capabilities and produces better data.

SPARC and SDI use what we call ‘enumerations’ –data about slums and their land and amenities status, and data about households. We find that this is a powerful tool. First, it creates the organizational form of social movements: when everyone answers the same questions about who they are, what they do in the city, where they live and what their challenges are, it produces an identity; it produces solidarity and it forms the basis for developing a consensus on collective priorities. It also forms the basis for dialogue with the city or state, both to legitimize data that the poor collect about themselves and to define what the development issues are and where investments should be made. Because the data can be aggregated and disaggregated, they can also become a benchmark of impact and the value of investments. 
In many cases, foundations have assisted us in developing the infrastructure and capability to design, collect and store data. Often grantmakers need to see the impact and value of slum dwellers collecting information before they become convinced about financing the process. Generally, they see the collection, management and use of data as activities for researchers,academics and state agencies; their initial view of communities collecting data is that it is an unnecessary duplication.

However, we have been able to demonstrate that communities can often collect better data about themselves and use it more effectively than professionals can. Not only would it be extremely expensive to contract an organization, say, to undertake interviews with the inhabitants of 200 informal settlements from all over Namibia, or to map and produce profiles of 330 informal settlements in Cuttack (India), but the professionals would face formidable obstacles because of their lack of local knowledge. They would be working in areas with no maps, no lists of buildings, often no street names or details of where the settlement’s boundaries are. There would be pressure on interviewers to work quickly. Furthermore, they may not speak the language of those they interview, which adds to the costs and to the difficulties of getting accurate responses. They would also have to contend with suspicion from people who feel threatened by outsiders asking questions – for instance, those who fear eviction, those engaged in illegal activities, or illegal immigrants.


Through our advocacy over time, more and more cities and government institutions have been commissioning data gathering projects from organizations of the poor and the NGOs that work with them. They have seen that the organizations that conventionally collect data don’t know how to work in slums, and the results of community-driven exercises have surprised them. In Old Fadama in Accra, for example, the enumerations showed a much larger population than local government estimates; it also showed the scale of residents’ involvement with the local economy and the extent of public infrastructure and services. This documentation helped discourage successive governments from their intention to evict. By contrast, the enumerations in Joe Slovo in Cape Town showed a smaller than expected population, which made in situ upgrading, which locals had been agitating for, more feasible.

These are just two examples of the sort of detailed and accurate picture of informal settlements that can emerge when the poor collect data about themselves, and the uses to which this can be put.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

JOCKIN REPORTS ON SOME OF HIS ENGAGEMENTS, SEPTEMBER 2012

A Large team from SDI attended the World Urban Forum in Naples in the First week of September. The delegation from india was Celine D’Cruz, (SPARC/SDI) A Jockin, John Samuel, (NSDF) Parveen and Savita ( Mahila Milan ) . There were leaders from several other countries from Asia and Africa in the delegation.
SDI had many events which were at their exhibition center, several networking sessions in which they showcased the work of SDI and its affiliates, and many SDI representatives participated in the events of UNHABITAT in the official program as well as networking programs of other organizations. Over the next few weeks as different members report their presentations, views and activities these will trickle into the blogs.

Jockin at the Panel of “What needs to Change”?
In one of the main Dialogues of the UNHABITAT the question asked to all the Panelists was, “what can you say is needs to change to make cities work for all?
Jockin challenged the person who asked the question and also the audience: “ since 1976 when this discussion began in the 1st Habitat event in Vancouver, what have we all done since then to make what we discuss actualize in practice… we keep coming to these events, and we ask each other these questions and then we go away only to ask the same questions again.

Jockin On a networking Panel on Challenges of Sanitation:
In a networking event on sanitation, Jockin Challenges all the others in the panel and audience… “have you constructed even one toilet? In someone’s home, or a toilet shared by several families, or a community toilet in a slum?”
His perspective was that the actual DOING demonstrates the real challenges that stop universal sanitation from taking place.
Of all the MDGs that are critical fo rthe urban poor, this one is very tough because it’s the lack of practice, and learning and evolving solutions that has stagnated this development investment. Not money, not technology and policy.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

MUTP: A RELOCATION AND REHABILITATION SUCCESS STORY, AUGUST 2012

New high-rise buildings constructed by communities at the Mankhurd relocation site in north-eastern Mumbai.
In the 1990s people riding on the Mumbai railway system could reach their fingers out of the rail cars and touch the slums.  Slums encroached on the rail lines all up and down the tracks, with some people making their dwellings just a few feet from the trains whizzing by.  People living on the side of the railway needed to constantly cross the tracks for daily activities like visiting the markets, walking to school, defecating, or gathering water.  Day to day countless people were hit and crushed dead by the trains. Train drivers suffered psychological trauma from killing so many innocent people, even though they drove at only 15 km/hr to avoid as many killings as possible.
One Mahila Milan member, Sulakshana Parab, explained how she lived on a small 6×13 plot on the side of the railway in Tata Nagar, Govandi, with no water, electricity, or toilet access.  She would spend her days in constant fear that trains might kill her husband, children, or neighbors while they were out of the house.
Something had to be done, and the Mumbai Urban Transportation Project (MUTP) was the response.  MUTP required that 10m of space be cleared and protected by high walls on either side of every rail line.  This would enable trains to run safely along the tracks at 45 km/hr, allowing three times as many trains to run through the city each day and one third of the prior commuting time for all those dependent on rail to get to work.  With nobody living along the rail lines, many fewer deaths-by-train would occur and train drivers could do their job without killing innocent civilians.

In order for the MUTP dream to become a reality, the city would have to relocate some 20,000 people away from the railroad track. But where could they move?  The World Bank agreed to fund the project on the condition that the people living on the side of the railways get relocated and rehabilitated to a safe and permanent location.

Even before relocation was announced, some rail-side communities had began forming into federations to protect women in the community who faced danger of rape and assault when were forced to defecate on the rail tracks because of a lack of proper sanitation facilities.  Upon hearing about a possible relocation for all rail-dwellers, federations rallied to organize themselves for the proposed move.  First they made plain table surveys and maps and numbered every house in their neighborhoods.  Then they assigned individuals in the community to represent every block of twenty households, and registered each of these households so that they could prove the existence of their rail-side homes to the governments.  Every Sunday for eight years members of the federation went out to survey lands throughout the city in hopes of finding suitable lands for relocation.

In addition to embarking on these many surveys and enumerations, federations initiated their own savings programs.  At first most families could not scrape together 100 rupees of savings, but after participating in well-structured and reliable savings programs implemented by the federation families reached the point of having 15,000-17,000 rupees each stored away in their individual housing savings: enough to construct a new home.  The savings programs also enabled people to take out loans in emergency situations or to start their own businesses.  With strong savings rail-dwellers became confident that they would be capable of building and funding their own homes if they could acquire a suitable plot of land.  Some communities hosted housing exhibitions with model homes made out of cardboard, saris, or cement and other real construction materials to introduce the community-at-large to the various designs that were being considered for the new homes.

Originally the government had planned to temporarily resettle the rail-dwellers in Mankhurd in northeastern Mumbai.  The government was not sure who owned the land in Mankhurd, but the federations knew that the land was available because of the extensive surveys they had carried out over eight years.  Families began to relocate to Mankhurd, and soon after they settled in there the World Bank adopted a policy that governments undertaking relocation had to provide new shelter for families before their current homes could be demolished.  Because the Indian government had not lived up to this demand, the once-temporary Mankhurd land was ruled to become a permanent relocation site for the rail-dwellers.

In total 20,000 people were relocated away from the rail-side under MUTP, and 17,000 of them were assisted in the relocation and rehabilitation process through the work of SPARC, NSDF, and Mahila Milan.  In the new Mankhurd relocation site, children are safer since they can play outside without the threat of speeding trains.  “Here the kids’ lives and our lives are saved,” Sulakshana Parab remarked.  She was relocated from the rail-side to a new apartment in Mankhurd Building 98 and speaks highly of her new home.

The federation in Mankhurd now takes the form of a “Central Committee” of 17 buildings, each of which has its own leader.  The Central Committee has done much work to clean the sewage connection and ensure that it stays functional, and they also work on improving the general cleanliness and garbage management of the Mankhurd neighborhood.
Families relocated to Mankhurd enjoy the
spaciousness and safety of their new home.
When people lived along the railway tracks the threat of trains was petrifying and nobody wanted their sons or daughters to marry into the rail community out of fear that eventual grandchildren would grow up in unsafe conditions.  Once the families moved to a permanent and safe location, this mentality changed.  Formal buildings made the rail-dwellers formal and acceptable citizens.
When instituted correctly relocation and rehabilitation can be a huge opportunity for families to uplift their living situation, safety, and employment.  The key is that communities themselves must provide the energy and momentum to move the relocation process forward, and they must drive the process from its inception.  The poor know what kind of solutions will actually address and overcome their problems, and they are capable of making these solutions come to life through proper organization and collaboration.

RELOCATION AND REHABILITATION: THE SPARC WAY, JULY 2013

What is Relocation and Rehabilitation (R&R)?
Whenever people are being continuously evicted from their land by the government or some other national or corporate authority, families must relocate.  Often this happens when the government decides to undertake infrastructure expansion projects like road-widening, flyover construction, rail expansion, etc. and these project plans encroach on families living in public places like slums, railways, and power lines.  In these situations the government often tries to uproot these families and move them to remote locations.  This process of shifting communities away from public land in demand is called relocation.  Rehabilitation involves helping to situate and establish communities in their new homes post-relocation.
In this process of relocating and rehabilitating, SPARC and the Alliance help organize communities and encourage them to be active in planning and executing all relocation activities in partnership with the local government. Initiating dialogue with the families, assisting in the shift, helping with registrations and paperwork, and smoothing the social transition from one neighborhood to another are all part of SPARC’s relocation and rehabilitation program.
Concerns Surrounding R&R
While R&R often serves the wider interest of the city, it leads to hardship for the individuals who are forced to move. For this reason SPARC feels that relocation should be minimized to the extent possible, and when R&R is unavoidable the relocation site should be as close to the original communities as possible.  Throughout the R&R process, outside individuals and organizations should be as respectful of the needs and demands of the relocated communities.
SPARC R & R Philosophy and Involvement
SPARC supports communities in the relocation process by giving them the tools to conduct surveys and enumerations in their current settlements and future settlements, establishing savings and credit programs so that families have enough money for the shift, and arranging for inspections of the new locations provided by the government to make sure they have legal utilities available and enough space for all in the new relocation site.  SPARC also assists with rehabilitation activities like transferring ration cards and election ID to the new relocation site, updating tax paperwork, arranging for government BEST buses to make new stops at relocation sites, identifying good schools in the new neighborhoods for the relocated children and fighting for affordable tuition for these children, and seeking employment opportunities close to the relocation site for relocated community members.  In addition to these activities, SPARC also requires that grievance redressal mechanisms exist at the community, federation, and government levels so that people know where they can go to express concerns.
SPARC believes that communities subjected to R&R must be well-organized and deeply involved in the relocation process from the beginning.  Throughout the relocation the state contracting institution and relocating communities must communicate and develop a mutually acceptable arrangement for relocation. SPARC can help facilitate this communication since the organization’s role is respected by both parties.
 SPARC’s History of R & R
In 1995 pavement dwellers were included in the list of people entitled to government R&R and SPARC began helping pavement dwellers throughout India relocate onto freed government lands.  Also in 1995, SPARC helped design the R&R policy for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), which affected slum dwellers along the railway track.  Since then, SPARC has worked with Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to relocate these households. In 2000, households from Rafique Nagar along the airport runway were relocated with the Government of Maharashtra’s department of housing facilitating this process. In 2008 SPARC also began working with Tata Power Company to relocate 2,000+ households away from electricity lines so that the company could expand and update its distribution network to provide more reliable power to households throughout Maharashtra.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

DAN CHEN FROM FORD FOUNDATION WITH SPARC, AUGUST 2012

The Ford Foundation has been one of the major supporters of SPARC NSDF and Mahila Milan in India and Dan Chen who is from the office in New York visited Bombay and he spent 7th August in Bombay with us. The day began with a visit to Mankhurd Building No 98 where RSDF ( Railway Slum Dwellers federation and Shekhar from NSDF and Pavement dwellers from Mahila Milan spoke of the creation of a strategy for relocation due to which the transportation ( especially of Trains) investments to upgrade public transport were possible. Also the paradox of how pavement dwellers were the ones who designed the initial relocation strategy for themselves but RSDF got benefits long before the pavement dwellers got it. Most fascinating has been the formal acknowledgement of the survey by slum dwellers as forming the foundation of the strategy that was driven by communities themselves.


Discussions at Mankurd
Mahila Milan members from pavement Slums spoke about how they began their association with SPARC and NSDF and their journey which began in 1986 has led to a policy by the state government to relocate pavement dwellers in 2005, and present ongoing relocation which has relocated one third of the households.They also spoke of their role in the network of savings groups that form the foundation of SDI and how they have travelled to so many countries to share this knowledge.



Discussions in Dharavi

In the afternoon, starting with Lunch in Dharavi, Jockin spoke of the challenges to communities believing they can make the difference in improving cities, and participating in finding solutions for challenges that the poor face.



Many Mahila Milan women who are now contractors for the sanitation and other construction projects were also present and spoke of their journey as part of various federations, initiating savings groups being relocated and now working as contractors and negotiating with various authorities.

DAN CHEN FROM FORD FOUNDATION WITH SPARC, AUGUST 2012

The Ford Foundation has been one of the major supporters of SPARC NSDF and Mahila Milan in India and Dan Chen who is from the office in New York visited Bombay and he spent 7th August in Bombay with us. The day began with a visit to Mankhurd Building No 98 where RSDF ( Railway Slum Dwellers federation and Shekhar from NSDF and Pavement dwellers from Mahila Milan spoke of the creation of a strategy for relocation due to which the transportation ( especially of Trains) investments to upgrade public transport were possible. Also the paradox of how pavement dwellers were the ones who designed the initial relocation strategy for themselves but RSDF got benefits long before the pavement dwellers got it. Most fascinating has been the formal acknowledgement of the survey by slum dwellers as forming the foundation of the strategy that was driven by communities themselves.

Discussions at Mankurd
Mahila Milan members from pavement Slums spoke about how they began their association with SPARC and NSDF and their journey which began in 1986 has led to a policy by the state government to relocate pavement dwellers in 2005, and present ongoing relocation which has relocated one third of the households. They also spoke of their role in the network of savings groups that form the foundation of SDI and how they have travelled to so many countries to share this knowledge.


Discussions in Dharavi
In the afternoon, starting with Lunch in Dharavi, Jockin spoke of the challenges to communities believing they can make the difference in improving cities, and participating in finding solutions for challenges that the poor face.Many Mahila Milan women who are now contractors for the sanitation and other construction projects were also present and spoke of their journey as part of various federations, initiating savings groups being relocated and now working as contractors and negotiating with various authorities.