Saturday, 15 June 2013


The federation and Mahila Milan in Maharashtra are active in six cities, Nasik, Malegaon, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Ahmadnagar and Bhadgaon, and have reached out to yet another city, Jalgaon. When Sulakshana came to know about the kind of work Mahila Milan is involved in, she visited Pimpri Chinchwad several times to talk to the leaders and see for herself the housing and sanitation work done there. Sulakshana, along with Surekha, are the Mahila Milan leaders in Jalgaon.  Sulakshana was interested in starting with sanitation work because there is open defecation in Jalgaon and the toilets constructed by the city government are not well maintained.
As per 2001 Census, about 62,696 population of Jalgaon lives in slums which is about 17% of the total city population. 25 slum settlements have been identified as declared slums and abut 5 as undeclared slums by the Jalgaon City Municipal Corporation.
Suvarna and Rehana from the Pimpri Chinchwad Mahila Milan have also been constantly in touch with the women leaders of Jalgaon, visiting them frequently to help them set up savings groups; meeting with the communities to explain to them the workings of the federation and Mahila Milan and explain why activities like savings and credit, surveys, exchanges are carried out; and how through Mahila Milan they can bring a change in the lives of the urban poor. As of now, savings and credit activities are ongoing in 9 settlements and the Jalgaon Mahila Milan’s action plan is to spread savings across all of the 25 settlements, thus moving on to start the same in the neighboring villages.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Changing attitudes and changing strategy - Sheela Patel

R&R projects in which the vulnerable and unsure slum dwellers get a place to stay when infrastructure projects are taken up is good commons sense. NSDF and MM, who have organized slum dwellers in these situations, have worked hard to demonstrate its good governance for the city to invest in rehabilitation when taking up infrastructure projects.

For many years the announcement of such projects meant that the “market” would swoop down on the households who were entitled to such homes and buy over the houses at distress rates, thus benefiting from the projects.

Since the state and city didn’t intervene, there was no coordination between locational solutions and relocation options; often households had to move far away from their previous locations.

In many instances (in R&R), water access to sewerage and transport was not available before households moved in; schools and health centers were not near the relocation site; and changes in ration cards, access to kerosene nearby were not available for almost a year. Now exploring net based data strategy is to attempt to make these processes reviewable by senior administrators.

However at the end of the day all this is effective when communities are involved in making choices from the beginning and amongst the community members it is women who make these choices.