Power of Unity

by Komail Ashraf  , CINI Urban Unit

The common belief of greater development, better living conditions, and more prevalent resources in urban areas has masked the real picture of urban poor. Urban slums are extremely vulnerable communities, with slum populations ranking among the poorest and most under-served groups. Problems with housing, sanitation as well as access to water, electricity and health and other basic services make communities more vulnerable. In West Bengal, status of slum dwellers are equally drastic. There are 4473 slums with 1,393,319 slum households.(NSS 65th round (State Sample))

The Urban Poor needs to be stronger. They need to know what they want, need to prepare themselves in order to negotiate with the government for what they need and to give them good reasons to listen to them and become involved.

 With these perspectives CINI – Urban Unit in collaboration with PRIA initiated an approach to federate groups of urban poor living in different slums of Kolkata and Siliguri. CINI facilitated the formation and collectivization of urban poor and their groups (Self Help Group) by capacitating them on the rights/entitlements to raise their voice and demand the same from the government authorities.

 In this direction CINI- Urban Unit has brought 13 such small groups of Shibtala and Chamra Patti area of Ward-65(Kolkata Municipal Corporation) into one platform.  

 Name of the groups are:

Sl. No.

Name of groups

1

Sahayata

2

Tania

3

ASHA

4

Nabadip

5

Bismillah

6

Rainbow

7

Kiron

8

Waris

9

Dolphin

10

Sonali

11

Kusum

12

Muskaan

13

Roja

 

The groups had individually approached the local administration many a times for SHG loan as entitled to each group by the government, but without any success.

The groups realized that they have to come together and work for their rights. It is this realization that brought the 13 SHGs together and become a force to reckon with against the local administration. The federation met on May 30, 2014, involving 26 participants( 2 representatives from each SHG group) and jointly agreed to approach as a federation to the local administration for the loan.

On June 3, 2014 all the members of SHG federation involving around 60 members including CINI representatives met the local councilor to raise the issue. The representatives from all 13 SHGs of the federation participated in the meeting and discussed at length their concerns with the local councilor. This time around, the councilor taken aback by the SHGs federation has agreed and assured that the groups would get a loan of INR 1.5 lakhs each by June 2014. The federation has accepted the assurance by the local administration and is rejoicing in their collective effort to bring a change in the attitude of duty bearers towards the strength of urban poor.  

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