2. Urban Concerns, and an introduction to Slum Networking

Rapid urbanization has led to an alarming deterioration in the quality of life of the city dwellers. Indian cities suffer from infrastructural deficiencies, poor sanitation and solid waste disposal, water shortages, waterlogging in monsoons, poor transportation and congested roads. The urban environment has deteriorated with dust and air pollution, depletion of green areas and polluted natural water courses. The slums have proliferated. Inadequate support for the social and economic development of the disadvantaged communities has led to growing illiteracy, deteriorating health care and frequent epidemics. The aggregate impact of the distress is specially debilitating for the urban poor living in slums. Woman and children bear the worst brunt as they continuously manage their daily lives and chores in this environment.

It is taken for granted that in the cities of developing countries, environmental degradation, strained service infrastructure and the growth of slums area inevitable. The policy makers area often conditioned into the ‘poverty syndrome’ in which the problems are perceived to be too overwhelming in terms of scale and complexity in relation to the resources available.

This confidence is based on the success of Indore Habitat Project and on the subsequent evolution and replication of Slum Networking in the pilot slums of the cities of Baroda and Ahmadabad, in total covering 4,50,000 slum dwellers and even a greater number of non-slum population.

SLUM NETWORKING SOLUTION

Slum Networking is an innovative concept which exploits the linkage between the slums, natural drainage paths which influence the urban infrastructure and the environmental fabric of the city. Thus slums, instead of being resource draining liabilities as in the conventional developmental approach, actually become opportunities of a quantum change in the infrastructure levels and environmental quality of the city. Slum Networking is an initiative driven primarily through community control. In a holistic frame which converges scales, activities, agencies and resources it exploits the slum fabric in the context of the total city for sustainable and cost effective improvement in the quality of life of its people as whole.

OBJECTIVE OF SLUM NETWORKING

  • Improve the overall quality of life of the urban poor in terms of health, education, skill upgrading and access to finance for shelter improvement and income generation.
  • Transform the sanitation and environment of the entire slum matrix of cities within a set time scale.
  • Revitalize the service infrastructure and environment of the city as a whole as a consequence of slum intervention.
  • Converge the strengths of the communities, economic forces of the city and the government for the planning and implementation of the program.

SPECIAL FEATURES OF SLUM NETWORKING

  • Slums are used to improve environment and infrastructure of the city as a whole.
  • A holistic and integrated mix of physical, educational, health and income generation improvements.
  • Substantial human and material resources are mobilized in the partnership approach.
  • Community responsibility and control area increased.
  • Cost are reduced significantly.