Introduction

The essay elucidates
on the slum upgrading scheme, Slum
Networking Programme or ‘Parivartan
(Transformation) Project’ or ‘Pandit
Dindayal Upadhyay Yojana’, commenced in September 1995, by the planner
Himanshu H. Parikh in response to the mass number of deaths in Surat city of
Gujarat in 1994 due to plague which was considered to occur due to the poor
living conditions of the slums along with underdeveloped solid waste management
system. This ebbed the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to prioritize Slum
improvement for enhancing the condition of the city and the health of its
residents both inside and outside of the slums. The SNP was orchestrated with
two main aims, namely; physical upgradation
of the living conditions of the slum residents and the development of the community for long-term benefits (Sato, Y. 2000).

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The Networking
programme was a unique program which directly included its recipients in the
program, as stakeholders rather than mere beneficiaries. This cohesive approach
was run by multiple partners each one involved with independent functions of
their own, which will be discussed further in the essay. The essay will first
briefly acquaint the city of Ahmedabad, followed by illustrating in detail, the
procedure forged by the networking programme. Secondly, the discussion deliberates
on the partners involved and their individual responsibilities in the program. Next,
the piece highlights on the unique facet of the SNP to include its members as
partners. The study then deliberates on the financial roles taken up by the
partners. In the last section, a brief demographics of the respondents is
explained followed by concluding with an evaluation of the Slum Networking
Programme.

Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad city is
the 7th largest city of India and one of the metropolitan areas of
India. Being one of the fastest growing cities in India, with a population of
about 4 million, 20% of the populace live in slums by virtue of continuous
migration to the city for expected income. Majority of slum residents have:

·      
Little or no
access to basic services;

·      
Lack of
infrastructure for water supply, drainage, toilets and solid waste management
system;

·      
Lack of
maintenance of provided services due to no ownership of the land;

·      
Lack of
awareness of hygiene and health;

·      
Threat of
eviction; and

·      
Lack of
revenue for services provided by AMC, waste collection for instance. (Chaturvedula, S. and Sadhukhan,
B. 2012)

 

 

The
Programme

The Slum Networking
programme envisaged an atypical fashion of slum upgradation in that it focussed
on the community development and comprehensive improvement of basic
infrastructure rather than solely advancing the housing quality. Although,
provision of individual water supply,
as well as toilets, was a part of the scheme as it would enable maintenance
instead of a public utility which may
not be retained. The elemental facilities of infrastructure provided by the AMC
included (UNDP-World Bank, 2007):

·      
Roads and
Paving

·      
Water supply
to individual households

·      
Underground
sewerage linkage for individual households

·      
Storm water
drainage facility

·      
Street
lighting

·      
Solid waste
management system

·      
Landscaping

Moreover, the AMC
also granted a written contract through which the slum dwellers would not be
evicted for 10 years if they choose to participate in the programme. This
contribution was the pivotal factor which enumerated in the success of the SNP.
The project did not merely focus on the physical aspects but also catered to
the non-physical facilities by providing continuing community development
programs initiated by different NGOs for upgrading the quality of the community
to eventually integrate them in the social mainstream along with the physical
assimilation. Development of the community emphasized on setting up of youth
groups, women’s groups, educational activities for pre-primary age children and
illiterate adults. Furthermore, it also included programs for awareness of
community health, education, mother and child care, supporting income-generated
activities and developing linkages with the finance sector to access finance
for small business and trade (Dutta, S. 2000).

The
Partners

The Parivartan programme,
being a distinctive project as mentioned earlier, involved multiple bodies with
their individual functions in the successful running of the networking
programme. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation was the anchor that conceived
the project and held together distinct partners coordinating them together to
perform their respective roles. The main stakeholders of the Slum Networking
Programme include the AMC (Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation), the slum
community, Arvind Mills (a leading private textile company in Ahmedabad) which
set up a trust called Strategic Help Alliance for Relief of Distressed Areas
(SHARDA) in 1995 for SNP, NGOs like SAATH and MHT (Mahila Housing Trust) and
the SEWA Bank (Dutta, S. 2000). The role of each member is described as
below:

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC):
AMC was the host agency of the
SNP responsible for most of the duties to be carried out for the Networking
programme. Being the local government, it was responsible for the highest
contribution of finances in all the facilities provided. The AMC was the
leading coordinator and enabler of all the partners. Leading the set up of the
project within city-wide plans was a duty of the government, to incorporate and
integrate the slum in the main city physically by providing linkages with water
and sewage treatment.

The physical
upgradation of the basic infrastructure of the slum areas to improve the living
conditions, like providing household level facilities like piped water,
toilets, connection with the main city water supply is another primary role of
the AMC. Moreover, the NGOs that participated in the SNP were paid by the AMC
to mobilize the slum dwellers in joining the SNP.

The crucial
commitment of the AMC was to provide a written assurance to all the slum
dwellers of eliminating relocation, a land tenure security of at least 10 years
which would expel the fear of eviction from the slum dwellers and act as an
incentive for them to participate and contribute in the project as a
stakeholder.

NGOs:

The NGOs played an essential
part in the Slum Networking Programme of mobilizing and encouraging the slum
residents to participate voluntarily in the programme. The NGOs were the direct
link that provided an interface between the community and the AMC which made a
dialogue between the two entities possible. The communities were strengthened
to contribute their share by convincing them of the benefits of the SNP and the
long-term advantages. The contribution of the funds from the community dwellers
was to be collected by the NGOs by the formation of a Residents’ Association
that pooled in savings from the beneficiaries i.e. the dwellers as their share
in the project. The NGO members of the SNP were (Das, A. and Takahashi, L.
2009):

SHARDA Trust: A trust launched by Arvind Mills, a leading
textile company in Ahmedabad which actively contributed in the SNP and
established the Strategic Help Alliance for Relief of Distressed Areas (SHARDA)
in 1995 as its contribution towards the project. Although it could not function
as an encourager, the company managed to contribute financially to the project.

SAATH: SAATH is an Ahmedabad based NGO that works with
slum areas concentrating on youth and social awareness since 1989. SAATH played
the role of an intermediary between the slum residents and other partners to
exchange dialogues with the partners. It also lent backing for the creation of
a Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Sanjaynagar, one of the slums upgraded
by the SNP, which now operates independently towards the maintenance of the
slum areas. Moreover, this NGO aims to disseminate the urban governance
information to the communities with a goal of linking them to the city (UNDP- World Bank, 2007).

Mahila Housing Trust
(MHT): The MHT is yet
another Ahmedabad based NGO which was set up in 1994 to acknowledge the demand
of the poor and self-employed women in Ahmedabad especially for services
regarding housing. It now works vigorously with the AMC for the Parivartan
programme. Correspondingly, the MHT also aids in boosting the community
residents to join the SNP and contribute their share of funds. MHT in
similarity to SAATH acts as an intermediary between the dwellers and other
partners, but in contrast to other NGOs, it especially accentuates on the role
of women in the decision-making process during the networking project.

Self Employed Women’s
Association (SEWA) Bank: The
financial mediator of the Slum Networking Project was the SEWA bank, a bank of
and for the self-employed women. The primary part of the bank was to collect the
contribution from the community members and deposit in their individual bank
accounts. Furthermore, the bank also provided loans at low rate of interest to
beneficiaries who could not afford to contribute to the project but were
willing to participate. The unique attribute of this Bank was that it only
provided loans to women (Baruah, B. 2007)

Community: The
crux of the Slum Networking Programme were the community members who are the
principal partners in the transformation project. The community is subject to
establish an association which concludes on the demands that are required in
the upgradation of the slum areas, which are then presented to the AMC for
acceptance. The dwellers in the SNP are not mute spectators of the upgradation
but have an equal say in the implementation and planning process of the entire
project.

Community
Participation

The private-public
partnership is not uncommon in slum upgrading schemes in India, Indore and
Baroda, for instance, underwent the SNP without the community participation.
Himanshu Parikh, a Cambridge-trained structural engineer and the planner of SNP
Ahmedabad learned from the experiences from the above-mentioned cities that
community participation is vital for any upgradation to succeed.

“Networking
cannot succeed unless community participation is total – unless the community
feels that it has a stake in it – and this cannot happen if the project is that
of the public agencies alone Several studies have indicated that this kind of
stake can be created by making the slum dwellers invest in upgrading their
physical infrastructure.” (Tripathi, D.
1998).

The resident groups
or CBOs that were created by the NGOs played the role of spurring community
members to willingly contribute and participate in the SNP. The CBOs and
residents were diligently involved in the implementation and post
implementation of the project with their say in resolving any dissonance
regarding proposed demolition, site surveying or infrastructure building and maintaining
the services. This active participation raised the self-esteem of the slum
dwellers allowing them to feel a sense of ownership of their land which would,
in turn, produce a willingness to maintain the provided services in the future.
A monetary participation was also necessary for the dwellers to feel a sense of
possessiveness towards their belongings. This was the unique aspect of the SNP
of involving the slum residents as equal partners in the project.

“An
important aspect of the project is the active participation, including a
monetary contribution, from the residents of such areas. Thus, the households
in the community, share one-third of the cost that the Ahmedabad Municipal
Corporation and SHARDA Trust will incur in upgrading the infrastructure
facilities” (Ahmedabad Municipal
Corporation. n/d.).

Hence, a noticeable
presence of the community during the implementation stage is visible as opposed
to before implementation wherein the role of CBOs is restricted to motivating
the households to make contributions. Communities cannot choose services as
they desire, however they have a chance of negotiating with the support of
NGOs. (Baruah, B. 2007).

Cost
Distribution

The SNP as discussed did not treat the dwellers as mere beneficiaries, a
justifiable amount was collected from each household which ultimately promoted
‘ownership’. The total budget of the Slum Networking Programme was to be distributed
amongst the AMC, SHARDA Trust of Arvind mills and the Slum dwellers. The
distribution of cost per household for the project includes (Sato, Y. 2000):

·       Physical environment cost:
Rs. 6,000 per household
Contributions: Rs. 2,000 per slum household
                        Rs. 2,000
industry sponsors i.e. SHARDA Trust of Arvind Mills
                        Rs. 2,000 to be
borne by the AMC 

·       Community Development cost:
Rs. 1,000 per household
Contributions: Rs. 300 other organizations i.e. SAATH
                        Rs. 700 to be borne by the
AMC

·       Linkage with basic city
infrastructure cost: Rs. 3,000 per household:
Contributions: Rs 3,000 to be borne by the AMC

·       Infrastructure maintenance fee:
Rs. 100 per household
Contributions: Rs. 100 per slum household

The AMC bears 70% of the total costs whilst each
household contributes Rs. 2,100 to participate in the project. The AMC is
responsible for the major costs as it deals with linking the slum areas to the
citywide supply of infrastructures like water supply, drainage, and electricity
etc. This cost is also supplied by International and National agencies through
the AMC for fulfilling this project. These organizations include United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank Regional Water and Sanitation Group
for South Asia (RWSG-SA) who aided in the design of concept of the SNP and
provided financial support. Moreover, financial support was also credited by
Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) to the AMC and SEWA Bank (Sato, Y. 2000).

The SEWA Bank, a sister organization formed by
and for self-employed women operating under the Reserve Bank of India was
associated with directly helping the slum dwellers in providing loans to
participate in the Slum Networking Programme. This help was provided when it
was observed that not every household could afford to take part in the
programme by contributing due to low income, which eventually made them borrow
money from relatives or money lenders who lent money for a very high rate of interest
consequently making the household members indebted for the future. The SEWA
Bank with its banking expertise was offered to be a financial mediator to
provide banking services to the SNP by providing savings mobilization, account
operations of individual households, management of payments, and finally
providing loans to households that could not afford to pay the required amount
by themselves. The bank would offer loan to any user to cover the amount of Rs.
2,100 and reimburse it through instalments, by simply opening a bank account.
The woman of the household is only allowed to open an account in the bank,
however, she can include a male member, although the decision-making power lies
with the woman. The SEWA bank focussed on the poor section of the society which
included illiterate population, therefore the procedure of opening an account
was made to be as simple as possible, only by providing a thumb impression or a
signature if possible. Also, a small amount of Rs. 100 had to be deposited to
open an account and to continue the account, the same amount had to be
maintained as a minimum balance (UNDP-World
Bank, 2007) The repayment of these loans was Rs 100 per month or as a lump
sum. The SNP aimed at making maximum efforts for constructing a programme and a
procedure that was easy for the slum dwellers to adapt to and look forward to participating
in the programme. The NGO worked their best to encourage the dwellers to take
up loans and utilize the services provided by the AMC.  

Attributes
of Respondents

Most of the sample households are Hindus with
very few Christians. The ages ranges between the 20s and 60s in each area,
concentrated between 30s and 40s. The literacy rate is low in most of the slums
which is supposedly linked with their occupational status as well. The vaghris,
a caste in India which is predominant in most of the slums in India, is an
outcast which is mainly involved in the informal sector and does not make much
of education. The earning income in slums involved the respondents to be
engaged mainly in the informal sector due to their low eligibility of getting
enrolled in the formal sector. Females were self-employed in home-based
enterprises and the male members being entrepreneurs in other activities like
street vending, vegetable sellers, hawking, etc. This informality of the
occupation is exhibited in their income. The income range is as low as Rs 2,000
to 2,500 per month, which enabled most of them to take up loans from the SEWA
bank, as most of their income goes to their day to day survival restricting
them to invest in any other activity for development. This makes the poor stay
in the same state with no hope of upward mobility in the future or of shifting
to the formal sector.

Evaluation
of SNP

A continual awareness generation by the NGOs regarding
health and hygiene promoted to improve the quality of life of the residents
focussing on maternal health and child care, along with the prevalent diseases
in the slums due to poor living conditions causing harmful diseases like
Malaria and the project meet this criterion successfully as there has been a
marked improvement in the health of dwellers (Dutta, S. 2000). Moreover, community involvement being given a
priority throughout the stages of the program gave birth to the formation of
community groups, women’s groups, youth groups who in turn became responsible
to maintain the services provided instead of solely relying on the government
to look after them. The SNP aimed to incorporate the voices of the household
members of the slums during the process of policy-making, which worked very
well as there was a cohesion among the partners with the same aim, giving the
dwellers a sense of acceptance by the authorities. This makes the SNP distinct
from all the other programs of slum upgradation because it does not emphasize
solely on the physical upgradation, but also generates a living condition for
the future and builds the capacity of the slum dwellers to sustain themselves.

However, as the Slum Networking Programme started
with the goal of including income-generating activities, these activities were
never implemented. Although, the factor that female residents were now accessible
to a micro-credit system by the SEWA Bank made it effortless for the residents
to solve their financial burden. The female residents were now empowered and
could take up credit for improving their income.

The partnership of the NGOs made it possible for
the project to solve the main challenge of encouraging the slum households to contribute
their share for basic services provided by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
Most of the slums are provided with free services from many agencies and some
even manage to take up services illegally from sources, like water supply and
do not wish to pay for these services. The NGOs boosted the slum members by a range
of awareness programs and successfully generated an interest in the minds of
residents regarding the networking programme. Another reason for success, which
I believe is the most important one is the provision of land tenure by the
government, acting as the biggest incentive for the slum dwellers, as a sense
of ownership creates a willingness to maintain and further develop the
possession. This security enabled the dwellers to pay their one-third
contribution to the government.

The Slum Networking Programme also proves that
physical upgradation is not sufficient for upgrading the slums, it requires a
range of softer interventions which makes a difference in the attitudes of the
dwellers resulting in the long-term upgrading of the quality of slums by making
the people more responsive. The aspect that some services are provided for
individual households like toilets and sanitation services marks yet another
distinction of this programme.

It can be conferred that the Slum Networking
Programme can be successfully adapted to promote change from physically
degraded and unhealthy living conditions to a place of self-empowered residents
with the provision of basic services and better living conditions (Chaturvedula, S. and Sadhukhan, B. 2012).

Demographics

The Parivartan programme has been introduced in
41 slums from which 32 slums have already finished upgradation and the work is
ongoing in the rest of the slums (Chaturvedula,
S. and Sadhukhan, B. 2012). Many slums voluntarily come up to take part in
the networking programme and request for better services. The AMC plans to
introduce this programme throughout the city among 120 slums. Various other
cities have replicated this programme, as the concept is easily replicable
through the cooperation of corporation and the community.

References

·       Chaturvedula,
S. and Sadhukhan, B. (2012). ACCESSanitation, CASE STUDY, Ahmedabad Municipal
Corporation (AMC), Ahmedabad, Gujarat

·       Das, A. and Takahashi, L. (2009). Evolving
Institutional Arrangements, Scaling Up, and Sustainability. Journal
of Planning, Education, and Research, 29(2), pp.213-232.

·       Sato,
Y. (2000). The Political Economy of Community Participation: Evidence from
the Slum Networking Project in Ahmedabad, India. Annals of Regional and
Community Studies, 12, pp. 159-182.

·       Dutta, S. (2000). Partnerships
in urban development: a review of Ahmedabad’s experience. Environment & Urbanization Vol 12 No 1 April 2000.

·       Baruah, B. 2007. Assessment of public-private-NGO partnerships: Water and sanitation
services in slums. Natural Resources
Forum, 31 (3): 226-37.

·       Tripathi,
D. 1998. Alliance for change: A slum
upgrading experiment in Ahmedabad.
New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.

·       Davis,
J. 2004, Scaling up urban upgrading:
Where are the bottlenecks? Liverpool University Press Online.

·       Water
and Sanitation programme, 2007, Taking water and sanitation to the Urban Poor

·       UNDP-World
Bank, 2007, Water and Sanitation
Program- South Asia: Media workshop
India Pvt Ltd.

·       Gautam,
I.P. 2008, Mixing Financial Sources for Slum Upgrading/ Prevention Ahmedabad Slum
Networking Programme at Seminar:
Improving Slum Conditions through Innovative Financing. UN-HABITAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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