Monthly Archives: November 2013

Poverty is glamorous!

From slum tourism to now living in fake shanties pretending to ‘slum it’

Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa, South Africa,  created a fake shanty town so that its wealthy clientele can pretend to slum it “within  the safe environment of a private game reserve.”

But don’t worry, even though the “Shanty Town” has intricately designed, colorful iron shacks, outdoor bathrooms, and battery operated radios, things aren’t too realistic for comfort. “This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!” its website boasts.



Voice of Urban Poor – Delhi Elections

Delhi is watching high voltage electioneering in kaleidoscopic colours. Political parties are promising comfortable lives for citizens. A quick analysis of manifestos and statements (put together) of leaders of political parties (AAP, BJP, Congress and CPI-M) reconfirms great similarities in thoughts (and actions?). Security and safety of ordinary folks specially women is on top of the agenda of every political party. If we believe the electoral promises, all problems related to  livelihood, housing, water, education, safety,  security, urban services would be solved after (any) new government takes over. Yes, it is true that if winner political party and its leadership follows its own promises , Delhi or any other city and state will become optimally citizen-centric. However, history does not encourage us to believe it. Let us hope this time things would be different as everyone is promising for a ‘Different Delhi’.  
But our hope can’t realize if we, the citizens, do not monitor and demand accountability. Thankfully national election is also approaching. It provides us golden opportunities to  sustain pressure on political parties for better serviced and safe cities so that lives of all citizens  become comfortable, productive and dignified lives. PRIA along with its partners is launching a National Campaign to highlight issues and challenges in ever neglected urban spaces of the country. It is important that ‘Urban’ become politically important so that urban policies and programmes are reviewed and redrafted for citizen-centric safe cities.  Let us come together to raise urban issues anywhere and everywhere to create a national buzz on Urban Governance and Urban development.

Comparative Analysis of the Election Manifesto/Statements of Political Parties-AAP, Congress, BJP and CPI (M)

With the prime objective of  presenting the manifesto to political parties contesting the upcoming Assembly elections PRIA and FIUPW on 10th of October 2013, organized ‘Assembly of Informal Urban Workers’ at ‘The Seminar Hall, Constitution Club of India’, New Delhi. In its demand vis-a-vis political manifesto PRIA and FIUPW presented the following issues:

(1)    Basic minimum needs including Livelihood and social security (employment guarantee), housing facilities with security of tenure, pension schemes, and right to education.

(2)    Proactive legislative actions which includes re-implementation of national Urban Transport Bill-2006; implementation of Street vendors’ policy (2009); and Unorganized workers social security Act-2008.

(3)    Institutional reforms which includes budget allocation and committees formation to implement appropriate policies’ and programmes for urban poor and formulation of appropriate policies for social security protection of employers and environmental concerns in urban settings.

Please find below an analysis of election manifesto and statements made by the different political parties’ office bearers. This note is based on reports available from parties’ websites and statements of their leaders as reported in media. Only AAP manifesto was available on their website at the time of preparing this table. So, data for other political parties are based on other documents available on their websites and also quoted news items in the newspapers.



Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)





Committed to have Jan Lokpal Bill in 15 days which will have the CM, ministers and MLAs under its purview. Committed to promote transparency through e-governance with an aim to cover 90 per cent of government services. Committed to promote decentralization of power. Committed to promote decentralization and devolution of power.

Public Participation

Committed to introduce Swaraj Bill and promote Mohalla Sabhas to decide on local governance issues. It already has Bhagidari Scheme. Committed to promote public participation. Committed to promote public participation especially of marginalized class on decision making.

Law and order

Full statehood to Delhi, police and law and order should come under Delhi government. Demands full statehood and centralized command structure. Also Free Economic Zone across NCR so that business and traffic can move seamlessly. Law and order will be Delhi government where more focus on public security with special focus on women and minors. Will promote Law and order properly specially in the critical situation like riots, and special attention will be given to minors.


Electricity bills to be reduced by half, electricity distribution companies will be audited. To set up fast track grievance cells to address complaints, increase power generation and promote solar power. No special remarks. No special remarks.


Committed to provide 700 litres of free water to every family. Those consuming more will pay more, opposes privatization of Delhi Jal Board. Committed to extend the subsidy to domestic consumers from current 30 Kilo litre per month to 40 Kilo litre per month, 3 new water treatment plants to be set up. Committed to provide sufficient water for all. Committed to provide Water for all.


Committed to provide good education facility in schools and 500 new schools to be opened. New law would be introduced to control profiteering by private schools and colleges. Introduce the option of second shift in all private schools to open a second shift and thereby creating at least 25 per cent more seats, 150 new government schools, 10000 new teachers. The seats in schools and colleges especially for girls will be increased and BJP is committed to make ‘DELHI 100% LITERATE state’. In all schools including government, private and other schools the 25% seats should be increased for poor children.

Education, particularly colleges

Committed to start new colleges for students. Committed to promote more evening colleges to increase seats by 30 per cent, University of Health Sciences with 5 medical colleges. Committed to increase Seats in colleges for girls. Committed to increase the number of colleges especially in labor-class colony and will promote cheaper and affordable education to all.

Security for women

Committed to establish Citizens Security Force. Push for police reforms, evolve mechanism for better cooperation with police, special training for police to handle crimes against women. Committed to Change the dynamics and ‘Power –relation’ and make the Delhi ‘safe Delhi’. Committed to mobilize community and CSOs on women safety issue, and improve the situation of fast-track courts, women police stations and women safety cells.

Welfare of schedule castes

Ensure use of SC component plan for the welfare of scheduled castes, and implementation of SC/ST and OBC reservation in Delhi government. Will promote Zero or low interest loans for entrepreneurs. Easy loans for self-employment groups (SC/ST, OBC, Minority), Rs 1800 per year for every child in school, scholarships. Will promote the welfare of backward class. Special focus will be given to socially and economically backward classes.

Minority issue

Ensure that false cases against Muslims are not registered; Bring transparency in the functioning of Delhi Waqf Board. Committed for modernization of Madrassa education, for example Haj house in Dwarka. Committed to improve the situation of minors. Committed to improve the situation of minors.


No especial focus on Housing policy. No especial focus on housing policy. Will promote land regulation forces in the welfare of public. Committed to improve the situation of housing under the RAJIV RATAN AWAS YOJNA and provide cheaper housing facility to all labour class.


Committed to fill all vacant government posts, provide better facilities to industrial areas and provide young entrepreneurs loans at low interest rates. Employment related acts are already in place. Committed to provide 22 lakh people specially youth and women employment facilities. Committed to Socio-economic security and providing employment guarantee to all people.


Committed to improve government health care facilities. New government hospitals would be opened to ensure Delhi conforms to the international norm of 5 beds for every thousand people. New primary health centres would be established. Public health care facilities will be improved. Public health care facilities would be improved. Committed to improve the health care facilities and stop the privatization of health facilities.


Committed to provide improved transport facility. No especial remarks. Committed to improve transport facility in Delhi. No especial remarks.

Proactive legislative actions

 Committed to ensure social security for unorganized sector workers; regulating wages and working hours of domestic’s workers; improving working condition of rag-pickers.

Street Vendors: licenses and fixed locations to be given to street vendors.

Social security related Acts are already in place. Committed to provide employment and social security to unorganized sectors particularly to Delhi villages (DELHI DEHAT). Committed to provide social security to marginalized section.

Institutional Reforms

No special remarks. No special remarks. No special remarks. Special budget allocation for Muslims and Dalits.

Environmental concerns

Committed to (a) promote sewage treatment and industrial effluent treatment to prevent polluted water from flowing in Yamuna; prevent encroachment on Yamuna river-bed and (b)Protect  Delhi Ridge by clamping down on encroachment; ongoing afforestation in Delhi; and  (c) Animal Welfare Board to be given enforcement authority, and not merely be an advisory body. Special provisions for Yamuna are already in place and will be further improved. Committed to improve the situation of Yamuna. No remarks on environment issue.

Assembly of Informal Urban Workers – Voices for Change

According to the reports of Planning Commission of India, cities contribute about 63% of country’s GDP and ironically one-third of population of an average city lives in slums. It is strange that in most cities though the voting percentages of the urban poor sections is higher than the middle and the upper-middle classes, unfortunately their issues and problems largely remain politically and administratively neglected. In the light of upcoming assembly elections, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Forum for Informal Urban Poor Workers (FIUPW) have collectively made an attempt to highlight the key issues of the urban informal workforce and raise some critical demands for their betterment in the form of an election manifesto. (For detailed manifesto kindly check the link)

This is a sincere effort to put forth and bring to light their issues for the consideration of political parties with a request to include them in their respective election manifestos. All the recommendations in this document have been made after multilevel in-depth discussions and in close collaboration with the representatives and groups of informal workers.


In light of the above, PRIA and FIUPW organized ‘Assembly of Informal Urban Workers’ at ‘The Seminar Hall, Constitution Club of India’, New Delhi, on 10th October, 2013. The sole objective of the Assembly was to present the manifesto to political parties contesting the upcoming Assembly elections. More than 250 participants were there to attend democratic assembly. Present crowd had mixed composition of individuals from community, federations, associations, NGOs, civil society and political parties. Indeed it was great platform to share issues, needs, problems and expectations of informal workers. Eminent political leaders Mr. Prashant Bhushan (AAP), Mr. Anurag Saxena CPI (M), Mr. Dhirendra Sharma (CPI) and Mr. Anand Sahu (BJP) were there to address public queries.

All political representatives agreed on note that construction workers, domestic workers, workers in farmhouses, hawkers and manual labourers need special attention because of their pitiable socio-economic condition. They also reassured they will support in the workers’ struggle for survival and expresses solidarity with the informal workers in the fight for their rights.

Overall, politicians representing various political parties across the spectrum had expressed their support and solidarity to the issues and concerns emerging in the assembly of informal workers. Some of them wished to incorporate demands into their manifestos, while the others highlighted the grim realities marring the informal sector in India and expressed their solidarity with the workers in the fight for their rights.

The dialogue between people and politicians was a success as two-way/bottom-up communication was established. Issues concerning the day to day lives of informal workers were taken into cognizance by their leaders and their redressal was ensured.

Even though it is too early to declare this assembly as successful – the political parties have shown a positive response and have assured to extend all possible support to address the issues, as soon as possible. But it was indeed a democratic attempt to raise voices of informal settlers.

The Challenge of Slums

Urban Governance

The Challenge of Slums“This report is mainly concerned with the shelter conditions of the majority of the urban poor. It is about how the poor struggle to survive within urban areas, mainly through informal shelter and informal income-generation strategies, and about the inadequacy of both public and market responses to the plight of the urban poor. But the report is also about hope, about building on the foundations of the urban poor’s survival strategies and about what needs to be done by both the public and non-governmental sectors.


As this report emphasizes, slums are a manifestation of the two main challenges facing human settlements viz., rapid urbanization and the urbanization of poverty. This report explores both the negative and positive aspects of slums.


Many past responses to the problem of urban slums have been based on the erroneous belief that provision of improved housing and related services (through slum upgrading)…

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Contribution of Urban Informal Settlement Dwellers to Urban Economy in India

Proceedings of the National Consultation





15th October, 2013

Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Center, New Delhi

 Society for Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA) along with Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and Forum of Informal Urban Workers (FIUPW) organised a one-day National Consultation on the ‘Contribution of Urban Informal Settlement Dwellers to Urban Economy in India’ at Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Center, New Delhi on 15th October, 2013.

This consultation was organized to share and release the findings of a study jointly undertaken by the PRIA and Indicus Analytics to estimate nationally the Contribution of Urban Informal Settlement Dwellers to Urban Economy in India’. This study was conducted in 50 major cities across the country. About 5,353 households and 24,445 individuals were covered in the study. The main focus of the survey was to capture information about income-expenditure, employment, nature of job, living conditions, education and economic component of life of the people living in slums and slum type urban poor settlements.

The key objectives of the study were:

  • To identify the involvement level of the urban poor (living in slums and other informal settlements) in the city’s economic (including fiscal) and social activities.
  • To measure direct, indirect and induced contribution of the urban-poor population to city’s economy.
  • To understand the shadow impact of non-existence of the urban-poor population in cities, in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

The consultation saw the coming together of more than 60 participants, which included policy makers, senior bureaucrats, academia, members of different associations and federations, NGOs and media groups.

In his opening address, Mr. Manoj Rai, Director, PRIA, giving an overview of the consultation and the purpose of the study mentioned that it is now time to realize and acknowledge the significant role of the urban poor in the lives and economies of our cities and change our perception about them. He further added that the objective of study was to highlight the economic contribution of urban poor, who are often called ‘burden on the city and its economy’. This study has strived to quantify the economic contribution of urban poor who live in slums and other informal settlements in the cities. He also added that the findings of this study are estimates based on sample data from 50 cities. There may be statistical limitations in the estimates but it was also true that economic contribution of urban poor has been found to be very significant for driving economies, sociologies and the politics of cities.

 Sharing of the Study Findings


Dr. Laveesh Bhandari, President, Indicus Analytics

Mr. Dripto Mukopadhayay, Vice-President, Projects, Indicus Analytics


Dr. Rajesh Tandon, President, PRIA


Prof. O.P. Mathur, Vice-President, NIUA, Delhi

Mr. Rakesh Ranjan, Advisor, Planning Commission of India

Ms. Kavita Ramdas, Country Representative Ford Foundation, Delhi

Dr. Pronab Sen, Former Chief Statistician and Secretary, Govt. of India; Currently Country Director, IGC

Mr. Dripto Mukopadhayay giving a background of the study findings mentioned that defining the informal settlements has been one of the major challenges, as no formal definition of informal settlements is available. Informal settlements are generally symbolized with slums (which are settlements of urban poor). Adding further he said that census 2011 estimates reflect that in states like Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra the portion of slum households to total urban poor households is high as compared to states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Kerala etc., however this is not because there are less proportion of urban poor in those states, but due to the fact that their status is under-reported. There are approximately 65% slum populations in top 10 cities and less than 50% of these slums have access to basic services like toilets, taps and electricity.

Informing the participants about the methodology of the study, he quoted that it was conducted in top 50 cities of the country having million plus population covering 5,353 households and 24,445 individuals. Out of the 50 cities, Bhopal, Raipur, Patna and Jaipur have been treated as core cities (for much deeper sociological studies) where 10 informal settlements were selected randomly, and from each settlement 30 households were further identified (randomly) for the survey. Thus 300 households were sampled from each of these 4 core cities. In the rest of the 46 cities, 3 settlements and 30 households from each were randomly chosen. Thus 90 households from each of the 46 cities were chosen. The study utilized the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) which is a robust methodology for these kinds of studies.

Some of the key findings shared by him were as follows:

  • Informal settlement dwellers contribute 7.53% to urban GDP of the country (including direct, indirect and induced effects) assuming urban GDP is about 60% of total GDP in India
  • Multiplier effect of urban informal settlements dwellers on the economy is higher than both other urban households and rural households.
  • One unit additional demand from urban informal settlements leads to 2.89 units of additional output in economic sectors

 Key Remarks by Panelists and Chair


Prof. O. P. Mathur appreciating the efforts of both the organizations said that given the scope and scale of the study, this seems to be the largest study which has taken place in last 5-6 decades. Quoting the shared report and its findings he said the report assumes urban GDP to be 60% of the total GDP and the contribution of the informal settlement dwellers to urban GDP as 7.53%; if calculated further it is almost 4.5% of the country’s GDP. Stressing further he said it would have been even better if the study could have highlighted that who (which section) amongst the informal settlement dwellers are contributing towards this GDP? He appreciated the usage of SAM in the study however indicated that the linkages within that could have been presented more clearly.

Referring to recent literatures and studies he mentioned that employment growth in our country has largely been through informal sector, thus the contribution of the informal settlement dwellers cannot be overlooked. Giving further feedback on the study, he also added that a comparative analysis of contribution between the benefitted (where urban schemes and services reach) and non-benefitted (no access to schemes and services) informal settlements will bring to light greater insights regarding their issues and challenges.

Mr. Rakesh Ranjan, continued the session by posing a pertinent question and asking the participants that ‘how can the data and findings of this very important study be used most effectively?’ He further opined that the heterogeneity among the groups of policy makers should be kept in mind and addressed appropriately in order to seek their feedback and inputs on the report.

He mentioned that the study findings should be backed by a critical review and reflection on government allocations and utilization on urban growth and planning, infrastructure development policies etc. so that it becomes a more holistic and logical document, with suggestions and inputs from the civil society. He further encouraged the civil society representatives and members of the academia present in the consultation to continue their efforts on assessing the functioning of the government agencies and give constructive feedback on regular basis, so that the government can take effective measures.

Quoting the Kundu Committee report he further mentioned that 0.53 million people have no houses in the country. In the upcoming National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) there are some provisions for providing shelter to these people. Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) play a major role in the cities hence we should also seek support from them. He also suggested that in addition to the economic contribution of the informal settlement dwellers, the study should also talk about their political participation.

 Ms. Kavita Ramdas, highlighted the long association of Ford Foundation with urban issues in India. She said there has been a miraculous growth in urban sector but this growth has been disproportionate and has created multiple challenges in the sector, for e.g. 210 million people in India are not getting enough to eat in spite of 6-8 percent of persistent growth. Emphasizing on the changing scenario and trends of urbanization she mentioned that earlier migration to big cities used to be towards manufacturing units but now the primary engines of growth are changing, which needs to be recognized and understood.

Commenting on the findings of the report she said the rights of citizens/informal workers also need to be measured. She also suggested that the study should take a more focused view on the contribution of women workers within these informal settlements, as they are the ones who suffer the most and get the least privileges and benefits. Highlighting the unequal distribution of resources she said, the study should be used to generate arguments on “Fat India (prosperous developing India) and Thin India (under-developed, poor India)” and it can also be used for a comparative analysis of contribution of ‘Urban Thin’ and ‘Rural Thin’ and linkages between both of them.

 Dr. Pronab Sen, started his deliberation by pointing towards the study and raised some questions to the participants:

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What are we able to measure?

Adding further, he said there has been a significant change in the dynamics of informal settlements in India as the urban spaces are shrinking and as a consequence the newcomers/new migrants are finding less space for themselves. Further he said, investments on infrastructure are directly related with the slum count e.g. if Delhi government stops investing in infrastructure the number of informal settlements will increase from 21-50%.

Differentiating between the contribution of new and old migrants he said that a new migrant will generally contribute less and spend more due high migration cost. Adding a new dimension he said, there are own account workers and it is hard to estimate about their income, thus in the study there is need of segregating data of own account enterprises. He said informal settlements can be bifurcated into two parts (i) permanent (ii) temporary, if the study could account for their contributions separately and their access to entitlements (PDS, ID Cards etc.) it would be truly enriching.

Dr. Rajesh Tandon, talking about the study finding of 7.53% contribution, he said that is the average figure of 50 cities and data for each city is available separately and it can be used accordingly. Further he added that the study has tried to capture direct, indirect and induced contribution of the urban informal settlement dwellers and further it needs to analyze the land issues with economic contribution, hence we need to look upon the ownership of land, its control and its utilization.

Further quoting the findings of the study he said that in the discussions with the urban non-poor i.e. the middle income groups it was revealed that in the first instance 50% of them considered the urban poor/informal settlement dwellers as a burden to the city and in the second instance, when counseled 75% of them felt that the city’s economy and services will be effected if they (the informal settlement dwellers) will be removed from the cities. Thus, this change in perception after having got the information about the contribution of the informal settlement dwellers raises the need and the importance of engaging with the urban middle class and changing their perspective and behavior on the issue of urban poverty.

In the end, Dr. Rajesh Tandon summarized the whole discussion and emphasized we should approach the universities and colleges to conduct similar studies on such themes as it won’t be possible for Civil society actors like PRIA alone to do such large scale exercises. It is time that thedifferent stakeholders, i.e. academic institutions, NGOs and governments come together and collectively conduct research and advocacy on such critical issues.

Issues and Suggestions Raised in Open Discussion


A number of issues and concerns were raised by the participants on the theme of study and all of them reinforced that the contribution of the informal settlement dwellers and the informal sector as a whole needs to be recognized. Some of the major suggestions and points raised by the participants were as follows:

  • A number of questions were raised on the methodology and scope of the study and the participants tried to understand the process and objectives behind the study.
  • Participants also commented on the implications of the study as many of them thought that study underestimated economic contribution of urban poor. However, they acknowledged that study provides an insight on the extent to which the informal settlement dwellers contribute economically to the city and now the focus should be on what they get in return and how can urban poor be supported in a better ways.
  • Commenting on the findings of study participants raised the issue that contribution of urban poor workers is directly proportional to the infrastructural facilities, and thus the study should take into account that aspect as well.
  • The participants also pointed out that study should have also covered the homeless population and their contribution also vis-à-vis the services that they are able to access and how it impacts their productivity. They suggested that the per capita energy consumption of the urban poor is relatively less, which means they are indirectly contributing by saving large resources to the city; hence it should also be measured in the report.
  • Participants also stressed on the need of conducting a separate study on the contribution of occupational groups such as rag pickers, waste pickers etc. to understand the extent of their economic contribution.
  •  Emphasizing on the habitat of urban population, participants said there is a possibility of informal sector workers living in formal settlements and formal sector workers living in informal settlements and this needs to be considered as well. The location of the informal settlement within/or outside the city and the impact of distance and time in relation to the work place of the worker on his/her contribution was another point raised by some participants.
  • They also pointed out the need of calculation of investment versus return from the policy advocacy point of view as there is a need to understand and recognize the areas for strengthening the contribution of urban poor.

Our role in regenerating cities

{FAVEL issues}

There is a group of guidelines being proposed for legacy cities in North America. Referring to cities that have experienced population/jobs loss over decades, developed around big industrial centers which no longer exist, economic weight shifted to new areas.

Mall and Office buildings used as emergency dwellings
Mall used as refuge for 3000 persons and Torre de David office center turned into vertical favela

Cities in Venezuela differ a lot from legacy cities up North, but we certainly share their downward spiral and the challenges to reverse the forces contributing to it. The housing markets fall short of housing needs and marginal areas are main parts of the city, so it is hard to find vacant lots or properties. On the contrary, unfinished buildings are taken by the homeless very frequently even when built for totally different purposes.

While developed world measures sustainability in their urban centers from every possible angle: carbon print, walkability, productivity, educational levels, etc…

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Open Defecation: A scourge in India

Today is the World Toilet Day, Ananta Prasad from Humara Bachpan has shared with us the ordeal of open defecation in urban India and it’s impact on children growing up in urban poverty. 

Nafisha, a 15 year old girl from Muslim Basti, Berhampur depicts her story how people peep at them while they defecate and bath in open. Dignity of life being hampered due to not having toilet was something that she and her friends have faced since they have realized their life in the slum. Open defecation has impacted many kids adversely and maximum children in the slum have got diarrhea and other diseases related to water and sanitation, she added.

As per Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), carried out by WHO and UNI­CEF as of 2010, India contributes to 58 per cent of the world’s population defecating in the open. The recent political war between Mr. Jai­ram Ramesh and Mr. Narendra Modi has brought back the focus on the lack of basic toilet facilities in most parts of the country. According to World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s joint Monitoring Pro­gramme; India loses more than 1,000 children of less than five years of age to diarrhea everyday; 80% of such deaths are below the age of two.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) enjoins upon the signatory nations to extend access to improved sanitation to at least half the urban population by 2015, and 100% access by 2025. This implies extending cov­erage to households with poor sanita­tion, and providing proper sanitation facilities in public places to make cit­ies open defecation free.

More than 2.5 billion people lack ad­equate sanitation worldwide especial­ly in developing countries like India. Of these, 1 billion people defecate in open. In the least developed countries one in four people defecate in the open, largely as a result of poverty and inability to build separate toilets and the issues of space and land as well.

According to a report by The Guard­ian, Diarrhea is, after pneumonia, the biggest killer of children under five in the world, responsible for 800,000 deaths each year – around 2,000 children every day. Even when diarrhea does not kill, it empties nu­trients from the body which in turn, after repeated occurrences results in stunting, stopping children in their growth. Stunted children are not just shorter and thinner. They are more vulnerable to disease and their brains do not develop as they should.

Recent studies suggest a strong link between open defecation and under nutrition in India, where rates of stunt­ing are high, despite strong economic growth. The latest estimates show that 48% of children under-five in In­dia are stunted. Children there tend to be shorter than their sub-Saharan African counterparts, even though In­dians are, on average, richer.

The scenario of availability of latrine facilities in India has improved in the 10 years between 2001 and 2011; but more than half of the nation’s households still lack toilet facilities. From as high as 78 per cent of the households without toilet facilities in Jharkhand and Odisha to 2 per cent in Lakshadweep, a large number of people defecate in the open because they cannot afford to build a toilet from their own resources.

The main reasons for large number of population in India still defecating in open are large sections of the Indian population are not convinced of the need to stop open defecation, because of lack of proper awareness about the problems associated with open def­ecation. Building toilets is often not a priority even for people who can af­ford to construct toilets and use them.

Sanitation is a major national problem in India, requiring urgent action, es­pecially given the rate of urbaniza­tion expected in the coming decade. India’s urban sanitation sector is pres­ently inadequate and the situation could worsen in the coming decades unless acted upon immediately.

Poor sanitation not only affects the health of the people of the country, but also affects thed evelopment of the nation. In fact, women are most affected by the hazards of lack of proper sanitation.

Slum dwellers in major metropolitan cities especially residing along railway tracks and roadsides with little living space are having no ac­cess to toilets or a running supply of water. The situation in urban areas in terms of scale is not as serious as in rural areas. However, what escalate the problems in urban areas are poor sewerage systems and highly con­gested living conditions.

India has exceptionally poor sanita­tion: the country accounts for 60% of the incidence of open defecation. Open defecation is an immense hard­ship for those who have no other prac­tical option and an important issue of human dignity.

In a country like India, where more than 37% people live below the pover­ty line, assuring basic hygiene for one and all is a major task for the Govern­ment. In India, sanitation issues be­gin from lack of availability of clean drinking water, to improper disposal of human and other waste. Poor sani­tation is responsible for vector borne diseases like malaria and diarrhea.

In fact, the lack of sanitation is linked with both child protection and educa­tion. Most girls drop out from school because of lack of toilets in the school as they don’t feel safe going out in the open. India cannot become a devel­oped country without ensuring that every household and every school has a toilet. This is very much necessary in cities as mostly schools and anganwadis are neglected and ignored in urban set up. It is a basic necessity which we can no longer afford to ignore if we want to have a safer healthier and produc­tive childhood and life.

Maharashtra, being the India’s most urbanized state, 46.9% of households lack a toilet. Out of which 13% of people depend on public toilets and 34% defecation in open.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), the major urban development policy in India has focused most of its budget on infrastructure investments in 65 major cities. Only one-fifth of the total budget was allocated towards small and medium towns where one-third of the urban population resides. Furthermore, this investment was focused mainly on improving the water supply rather than sanitation.

Though these issues are having greater impact in urban India; but the total sanitation Campaign of Central Gov­ernment focuses on rural households. Under Total sanitation Campaign (TSC), significant progress has been made since its inception; over 9.04 crore toilets have been provided for rural households. However, open def­ecation by large population in India remains a matter of concern. To ad­dress the issues and to accelerate the progress of sanitation in rural areas, the Government of India has designed a paradigm shift in Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) which is now called the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), in the XIIth Five Year Plan. Urban prospective of this sanitation drive has been a demand from many civil society organizations working on living conditions in urban poverty.

A sanitation programme should be or­ganised for urban slums and schools in major Indian cities keeping the growing slum populace in mind. This pro­gramme should be handled keeping the views and concerns of slum dwellers and specifically of children. This must include a behavioral change practice discouraging open defecation to all. The absence of which is leading India to misery. The programme should include converting existing toilet complexes to start functioning as community managed toilets, and repair toilet complexes and associated sanitation facilities like drains and dustbins. It should also been included in major housing and neighborhood development plans. 

 The programme should have long last­ing initiatives to improve the hygiene and sanitation facilities for the most marginalized urban and rural house­holds in India and increasing the ac­cess to clean and hygienic sanitation facilities and the knowledge particu­larly of girl’s health. These activities will contribute to an improved quality of life for families and their children, and provide them with the dignity and privacy they deserve.

It’s also a social problem; women hold all day and it’s a question of dignity.” Open defecation doesn’t go away because of the reason in urban India that open defecation does not emerge as a key factor explaining shortfalls in child growth. The link between sanitation and child health outcomes across countries at the population lev­el was also examined. An internation­al comparison by Dean Spears shows that countries where people defecate in the open are the same countries where the most children are stunted and the average child is shortest. In a country like India, where more than 37% people live below the poverty line, as­suring basic hygiene for one and all is a major task for the Government. In India, sanita­tion issues begin from lack of availability of clean drinking water, to improper disposal of human and other waste.

There has been much discussion about World Toilet day these days. When the UN designated November 19 as World Toilet Day, it urged member states and other organizations to discuss and act on the sanitation issues plaguing developing countries. 

 The ramification of this sanitation shortage in Small and medium towns in India have particularly felt in the context of its impact on children.  Of the 1.2 billion people living in India, roughly 112 million live in small and medium towns and 7.6 million young children live in the slums of these cities.

 Humara Bachpan -Our Early Childhood Matters

National campaign on safe and healthy environment for young children in urban poverty