Monthly Archives: May 2013

National Consultation on Urban Poverty Issues, Challenges and Opportunities – 20 – 21 June 2013, Delhi

PRIA

Undoubtedly we all are participants of the urbanising India which is growing in massive scale and pace and is developing to be the main contributor towards India’s GDP. However, the unpleasant dimension of this phenomenon is the ‘urbanisation of poverty’ hitting our cities and developing small and medium towns. Poverty has become synonym with deprived right to shelter, social and physical infrastructure, livelihood, security and even dignity of life. The vulnerable poor struggle to raise their concerns and demand their basic rights from the service providers, even when the country at present boasts of several ‘schemes for the urban poor’.

Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) initiated the ‘Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty in India’ project with the support of the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation in the year 2011. The initiative has now spread to 34 cities across 11 states in India and is facilitating and synthesizing engagements at the city, state and national levels, bringing together the broad spectrum of civil society actors – organizations of the urban poor, local NGOs, research institutions, media and other coalitions in creating an enabling environment on urban poverty issues. Dialogues between the service providers and the civil society and urban poor communities are being strengthened as well as accountability of the governing bodies is being tracked and supported through this initiative.

A National Level Consultation that shall reflect on learning and lessons from the above initiative and facilitate active dialogues between varied participants from civil society, urban poor communities, academicians and service providers shall be held in Delhi in June 2013. This National Consultation will be a deliberation session on ‘Urban Poverty: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities and is being jointly organized by PRIA, SPARC and Forum of Informal Urban Poor Workers on the 20th and 21st of June 2013 in New Delhi at India Habitat Centre.

Enrich this consultation with your participation under the three theme areas of: Redefining Urban Poverty, Municipal Governance and Urban Poverty and Schemes and Services for the Urban Poor: Issues and Challenges.

Access the concept note and a tentative programme of the consultation at: 

http://www.pria.org/pdf/Concept_Note.pdf

http://www.pria.org/pdf/Programme_%20Design_on%2031st_May.pdf

Governing Conflict of Interest

On spurt of corruption cases and situations wherein the professional ability of the decision-maker to take an independent and objective decision in the larger public interest entrusted is likely to be seriously compromised due to competing interests of the decision-makers. And situations where appointing relatives and friends to positions of influence and power is a commonplace phenomenon by all political leaders, Rajesh Tandon – President of PRIA rightly states that in the culture of governance of public and private institutions in India, there is hardly any understanding or appreciation of conflict of interest

Read his blog at http://www.pria.org/about-pria/president-desk/rajesh-tandon-blogs/2013/05/27/58-governing-conflict-of-interest where he expresses his opinion about the pressing need of  reforming governance in India today, where recognizing and dealing with conflicts of interests is likely to be most critical. 

Initiatives of Youth for giving an identity to their slum

By Anshu Singh, PRIA-Jaipur

A slum located in the land of Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO) lies in the Motidungri Zone of Ward No. 35 within Malviya Nagar Industrial Area of Jaipur. The slum is surrounded by factories all around. In the year 1989 Government of Rajasthan allotted the land to RIICO. RIICO tried to vacate the area of the slum dwellers but due to intense resistance from them it could not be made free. The slum dwellers have ration card and voter card but till date they do not have BPL cards and therefore, could not avail the benefits of welfare schemes of the Government for Urban Poors. 80 families reside in the slum all of whom are BPL. The population of the slum is 375 and has 68 houses. Most of the people are engaged in factories surrounding the slum. They tried getting land rights from JMC and JDA but it could not be given since it was already allotted to RIICO.

When PRIA intervened in the slum and discussed about their problems, only one major problem surfaced which was ‘Land right’. The slum dwellers reported that in absence of land right they felt highly insecure as they may be forced to vacate the land any moment. They cannot purchase land due to their inability to pay the cost. The land right could be given neither by JMC nor it is included under RAY even though it is a recognized slum. With this idea none of the slum dwellers applied for land right in the ‘Prashasan Sehron ke Sang’ camp.

Still, PRIA motivated them to apply for land right so that at least they could show the engagement of that land and to draw the attention of the government towards them since the Government has already ordered the regularization of recognized slums.

PRIA involved the youth to make them aware of the situation so that they get connected with the problem they are facing. When this problem was brought into their notice they were stirred. The situation became grave when their slum could not be seen even on satellite map. They decided to map their slum so that atleast they get some identity. With the help of PRIA they conducted a GPS mapping exercise marking the slum boundary and also taking details of each household in the slum.

Initiative taken by youth group to give an identity to their slum was worth appreciating. The residents and PRIA want to draw the attention of the government towards the slum in RIICO so that they get a place to live in. Since most of the slum dwellers are engaged in RIICO factory, in- situ housing facility could be provided to them from RIICO. The residents of the slum are even ready for rehabilitation provided their livelihoods are taken care of.

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Explaining the youth group on using GPS

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Marking waypoints and collecting household data

The link below shows the details of the slum:

Link: <https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?t=h&vpsrc=6&msa=0&msid=206436946251815631253.0004dd74fc9af98d080df&ie=UTF8&ll=26.858402,75.824356&spn=0.001433,0.002411&z=19&lci=com.panoramio.all>

Urban Poor Housing scheme fails in reality- Imphal

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, May 24 2013 : In stark contrast to the award and recognition given to the State by Central Government for successful implementation of Urban Housing Scheme under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM), the beneficiaries have not fully received the housing grant and they are now unable to complete their houses.

The Housing Scheme has been taken up in areas within Imphal Municipal Council (IMC) under the name of “Basic Service for Urban Poor”.

The beneficiaries have been chosen from among the families belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) .

The entitlement for each beneficiary is Rs.3 lakhs, out of which Rs.15,000 is the beneficiary’s share while Rs.2.85 lakhs would be given as grant from the government.

The Scheme was started in 2010 under the Municipal Administration, Housing and Urban Development (MAHUD) Department with 1220 beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries have started constructing their houses with their share of Rs.15,000 each and they are supposed to receive the grant in four transactions.However, they have not received the amount even for the third transaction.The poor beneficiaries are now in a state of financial crisis and they are unable to complete their houses.

Notably, the Central Government has given a special award of Rs.3 lakh to the State Government for successful implementation of the Scheme.

The recognition came just after the State Government submitted the Utilization Certificate for the third transaction of this scheme.

But, there are many beneficiaries who have not received the third transaction.The beneficiaries are apprehensive whether they would get the remaining amount of the housing grant or not.They said that the housing scheme is meant for the betterment of their livelihood, but MAHUD has made their livelihood even worse by withholding the transactions.

Moreover, Imphal Municipal Council (IMC) has collected the original land documents of the beneficiaries against the guidelines and norms of this scheme.

New housing scheme “Rajiv Awaaz Yojna” has already been taken by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation in other States, but this scheme could not be implemented in the State as the previous scheme of Basic Service for Urban Poor is yet to be completed.

The poor beneficiaries are now in a critical state with financial burdens upon them.
They have drawn the attention of the authorities concerned to look into this matter and bring relief to the urban poor people of the State.

‘Middle Cities’ – Are we forgetting to nurture the engines of our future growth?

Cross-posted from IDS Vulnerability and Poverty blog

By Jaideep Gupte

With the world now mostly urban, nearly 60% of our global GDP is generated in only 600 urban centres. Moreover, large urban centres are quite simply the places where growth has been occurring – this is a function of concentrated economic activity. But this story is really about what is yet to come. For the first time, a country like India, with only a third of its population currently urbanised, which is far less than Brazil (86%) or China (47%), is reporting higher population growth in urbanised areas than across its vast rural landscape. In sub-Saharan Africa, the urban population is projected to double by 2030. This growth can be categorised into two significant trends: just under 30% is projected to occur due to what is classically understood as rural-urban migration. Significantly, the rest will occur due to natural increases in urban population, that is, cities and towns generating their own population growth. National planning bodies also have a say in this when they classify peri-urban or peripheral areas as under municipal administration.

This ‘urban-shift’ is going to require resources at a monumental scale – China for example, predicts it will need $8.1 trillion in new investment by 2020 to accommodate its new urban dwellers. Current rates of investments into infrastructure are falling far behind these levels. And not just in terms of scale, but importantly, also in terms of location: focussing on new or projected population growth, the mega-cities of the developing world are quickly being overtaken by a vast number of small and medium sized urban areas, each numbering approximately 100,000 in population. 

These ‘middle’ cities and towns across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are going to be the main hosts of urban growth. Understandably, these town and cities are also the weakest in terms of human capacity, infrastructure or service provision, and have a very thin local tax-base to use for future investment. Local revenue of most of these municipalities is often less than 1% of their country’s GDP. This has created a critical mismatch across a range of sectors, from basic service provision, law and order, to disaster preparedness, which directly impacts our progress on poverty eradication.

 
This is the theme of this year’s Global Monitoring Report – Rural Urban Dynamics and the MDGs, which provides an in-depth analysis on urbanisation as a force for poverty reduction and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. I speak with Jos Verbeek, Lead Economist at the World Bank and Manager of the Global Monitoring Report, on what impact urban development has on rural poverty, what roles and responsibilities the private sector has in fostering urban growth, and how ‘middle’ cities can be supported in becoming engines of our future growth.

 Listen to the conversation below:

Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Urban Poverty- Jaipur

Shared by Anshu Singh, PRIA

Under, ‘Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty’, PRIA, initiated an awareness drive in Jaipur. The team is supporting the slum dwellers to obtain relevant information, avail their basic rights and voice their opinion. In Jaipur, it is working in 10 slums for the improvement and upliftment of slum dwellers to make them habitable. To facilitate dialogue sharing between different stakeholders of urban poverty, a consultation was organized on 4 April, 2013 at State Resource Centre, Jhalana Dungri, Jaipur. The consultation was an effort to shape the civil society debate and also to engage the key policy makers and actors, in shaping the policies and programs from citizen’s perspective.

The objectives of the consultation were

  • To bring all the stakeholders of urban poverty to a common platform
  • To discuss ways in which government programs can be influenced in a positive manner so that it can satisfy community demands.

The consultation was attended by 84 participants including CSOs, CBOs, Research Institutes, Policy makers, Urban Planners, individual Activists, Professional Consultants, slum dwellers and Media from Jaipur. Mayor, Jaipur Municipal Corporation was the Chief Guest of the consultation. Apart from this, the Chief Executive Officer, JMC, Commissioner, Kachchi Basti and Zone Commissioner also attended the consultation. The consultation was concentrated into two thematic sessions viz.:

1. Civil society engagement on urban poverty issues

2. Ongoing initiatives of Government on Urban Poor

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Smt. Jyoti Khandelwal, Mayor, addressing the participants of the consultation

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Ms. Shaheen, the Community Leader of Bhojpura slum sharing the problems faced

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Mr. P.N. Mondola, Activist, sharing the challenges of Urban Poor

 The following are some of the suggestions from the consultation:

  1. Land rights should be given to persons residing in the city since last three years.
  2. For the slums which are covered under RAY, houses should be constructed in- situ so that the slum dwellers do not lose their livelihood.
  3. Implementation of National Urban Sanitation Policy
  4. IEC for welfare schemes specially those which are for BPL families
  5. Implementation of schemes should also be monitored by Government (implementing agency)
  6. Make a ‘Consortium of NGOs’ working on Urban issues
  7. There should be a monthly interface “Sanjha Sarokar” between the Slum Improvement Committees and respective Zone Commissioners and Parshads to make them aware of the situation
  8. NGOs should adopt ‘cluster approach’ e.g. groups of vendors, rickshaw pullers, rag pickers etc., so that they could be trained at  Resource Center of JMC
  9. NGOs should conduct research, collect related data and inform the government so that it could be incorporated in the preparation of Master Plan of Jaipur
  10. Promotion of Right to Information Act, 2005, Right to Hearing Act, 2012 and Public Service Guarantee Act, 2010.

A copy of the suggestions was circulated to the Mayor, Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC), The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), JMC, Zone Commissioners of respective zones, Commissioner Kachchi Basti and NGOs who participated in the consultation. A meeting was also held with the Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan (GoR), Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development, GoR, Director of Local Body, Urban Development, GoR for implementation of the suggestions to improve the condition of the slums.

A meeting was held with the CEO, JMC in which the suggestions of the consultation was shared. He considered its incorporation in the Action Plan of JMC. Another meeting was held with the Chief Secretary, GoR, for sharing the issues of urban poor. He marked the letter to Additional Chief Secretary which was again marked to Director Local Bodies for its processing.

The government authorities have shown a positive attitude for addressing the problems of slum dwellers. Hope this dialogue sharing and conversations would be fruitful in increasing coordination between the slum dwellers and the government officials and also for streamlining the marginalized section of the society. 

Multi-Stakeholder Consultation around urban poverty- Bodhgaya, Bihar

The Buddhist pilgrim town of Bodhgaya caters to large international and domestic tourist, but also houses about 19 slums, holding about 8-10% of the total population of the town in these pockets of urban poverty. Unfortunately, these pockets of the urban poor have not found enough voice in the larger governance of the town and have not sufficiently been able to access their minimum rights.

Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) has been working with the civil society and the urban poor of Bodhgaya, facilitating their participation in schemes directed towards the urban poor. PRIA has over the last two years initiated various activities in Bodhgaya such as:

  • Slum Listing: undertaken to evaluate the current scenario in Bodhgaya in respect to number and type of slums in the town, slum population and characteristics, applicable policies, present infrastructure and participatory strengths and potential of the community members in these slum pockets.
  • City level consultations and regular interaction with media engaging multiple stakeholders in discussions around urban poverty issues, status and lacunae of popular urban poor schemes such as Rajiv Awas Yojana, role of civil society and development of an exchange platform wherein the service providers and the demand side are able to interact and facilitate a better delivery mechanism.
  • Strengthening Community Participation through Slum Improvement Committees: Facilitating formation of a representative committee of the slum dwellers ( in 10 slums of Bodhgaya) . These slum improvement committees are being given necessary trainings, orientation and hand holding support to engage effectively with the government and bridge the gap between the community and the governing bodies. Through SIC, relevant information about various applicable schemes for the urban poor is also shared with the entire slum community. Empowered with knowledge and awareness, the slum community thereby is more equipped to get their rights.

On 15th May 2013, PRIA held another city level consultation as a dialogue platform between the governing bodies, slum dwellers, civil society, academia and the media in Bodhgaya. Present in the consultation, Dr. Hari Manjhi – Member of Parliament from Gaya reflected on how very few urban poor have been as of now been able to access the various development schemes for them, the main reason of which might be lack of awareness and information dissemination. Dr. Prem Kumar – Minister of State Urban Development and Housing Department shared that about 34500 youths in Bihar are being provided skill development trainings in 17 trades under SGRSY, CDP of 28 cities is being prepared under SPUR, and the minster assured construction of dwellings for urban poor through in-situ up gradation. He also mentioned about the urban poor women convention – Self Help Group, that has been formulated in Gaya under Support Programs for Urban Reforms in Bihar(SPUR).

Mr. Dine Kr. S h,Vice Chairperson Bodh Gaya, Nagar Panchayat expressed the delimmas and issues that confront the Nagar Panchayat for smooth functioning, coordination with District Administration, devolution of functions and the capacity of the Nagar Panchayat itself. These issues for certain also result in an inadequate address of urban poverty issues in Bodhgaya.

Interestingly, even though today in times of election and political change, the Bihar Government has been actively promoting and boasting its development report. This report however as highlighted by the academia present in the Consultation cater to the issues of urban poor very superficially and inadequately.

The consultation was also an opportunity for PRIA, Civil Society members and the community at large represented through SIC to share the various initiatives taken together by them and the main issues that the urban poor pockets are facing in the city. Such city level consultations are must to create the necessary accountable environment for the urban poor. 

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