Monthly Archives: December 2014

“People-centric approach crucial in urban development”

A ‘Right to the City’ Campaign was launched earlier this month in Delhi! Realising that half of the country’s population will call urban India home by 2025; The Right to the City campaign aims at making urban spaces more inclusive, keeping in mind the lakhs of migrants that move here from rural India every year.

Patiala MP and member of the Standing Committee on Urban Development Dharamvir Gandhi, who attended the launch, said there was a need for people-centric approaches in urban development. From recreational spaces to adequate housing, making the rights of an urban citizen integral to planning is the agenda of the campaign.

“We may be going to Mars and starting bullet trains, but it means nothing when UNICEF says 40 per cent of Indian children are malnourished. We need to ensure a just society for the working class as it creates wealth,” said the Aam Aadmi Party MP.

He said that it would be a long-drawn process and pressure would have to be put on the government, but “just cities” would be on the agenda. Mr. Gandhi said with the government planning on launching ‘smart cities’ there was a need to make sure that the urban poor were not excluded. As per its draft charter, the campaign will support the urban poor, advocate with government agencies for their concerns, and start periodicals and an e-resource centre.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Secretary Anita Agnihotri said Delhi was “becoming more exclusionary”.

“When we plan for cities, we have to plan for all. People will come to cities, whether you like it or not. For quite a while now, we have stopped preparations for new migrants,” said Ms. Agnihotri.

She said the Narendra Modi government had planned 100 smart cities, 500 new cities, and heritage cities. But, she said that policies would have to be people-centric.

“We plan housing with the aim to get land vacated, but we need to plan with people in mind. We made 10 lakh houses in the past decade and many people refused to move in because we never asked them what they wanted,” said the secretary.

She said urban planning must include access to services as well as employment.

The campaign’s launch saw representatives of 15 organisations come together. Similar launches will be held in other cities across the country and customised charters will be brought out.

You can participate in the campaign and see their official page at:


Re-wind. Recount. Reflect

The SLB Connect survey is about to launch. It is right there now, at the edge of its beginning. The team involved at PRIA and WSP is ticking off things-to-do from its checklists– phones are being prepared, enumerators shortlisted, ward plans are being finalized, letters written, collaterals printed, the documentation is nearly final, and our homework into city and service-level assessments is being concluded.

But before we launch the actual survey I want to rewind, recount and reflect on the practice survey we conducted a couple of weeks back in Jaipur.

PRIA organized the practice survey by way of field work for enumerators and supervisors to ensure that we were preparing our trainees as much as possible before they went out to conduct the actual survey in Ajmer and Jhunjhunu. This was part of a four-day workshop organized by PRIA to train enumerators and surveyors on the concepts and logistics fundamental to SLB Connect. (A quick side note on this- a BIG thanks to Anshu, Naeem and Pranav for how well they organized the entire exercise!).

Participants were divided into five groups. By design, each group had at least one member from PRIA, one from WSP (or an independent consultant collaborating with WSP on this project) and enumerators and/or supervisors. PRIA members and WSP members were present to facilitate the process.

My team was allocated a slum called the Phoos ka Bangla; after completing this we would test the survey in a non-slum area with our enumerators and surveyors.

The households in slums were keen to participate in the survey, with residents clamoring to get the surveyors’ attention. There was this unshakable belief that somehow participating in the survey would solve all their problems relating to water and sanitation. I say unshakable and mean it – this slum has been settled in the area for the past thirty years with umpteen promises for water and sewerage lines. Nothing has been done so far to deliver on these promises. And yet, this faith, this firm belief persists that if they participate in the survey then they are somehow exerting their agency to improve their situation.

One lady told us, “Main yahan saari din saari raat aapse baatcheet karungi, aap bus mere ghar mein paani and safai ka bandobast karwa do” (I’ll talk to you all night, all day, just please try and arrange for water and cleanliness in my house).

This was in spite of our informing the lady that this was a pilot survey, a practice session for what we would launch in Ajmer and Jhunjhunu later in the month. She persisted expectantly, “Theek hai, aap karo practice. Safal jab ho jayogey, hamare yahan laut aana didi” (That’s alright. Practice here now, once you are successful in doing the survey in the other cities, come back to our slum again).

We had hopeful faces looking at us, people vying for attention and opening their lives to us, leading us by the hand-

Didi look this is the pile of unwashed clothes”
Didi get water pipeline connections for us”
Didi our daughters are young but they have to defecate in the open”
There were sometimes requests for arranging for admissions for children and establish an Anganwadi in the vicinity.

The response behavior was starkly different in the non-slum areas. We were allowed to take a survey with greater reluctance. Some teams faced a couple of rejections before getting a household willing to participate.
Also we met with the disillusion we were expecting in the slum eventually in the non-slum areas. “Aisey tou koi shikayat nahi hai, but garmiyon mein do teen bari pump chalana padta hai. Poudhey sookh jaayein hai,badi dikkat hoti hai” (As such there are no major complains, but in summers, we have to switch on the pump a couple of times. Our plants dry up, it’s very inconvenient).
There is a ‘mai baap’ tendency in slums. If someone has the wherewithal to conduct such a survey, then they might also have the power to implement solutions in the near future. The distinction between ranks and files of government officials, NGO workers, researchers was not made. There was an almost direct correlation between levels of desperation and hope. Part of this arose from a confused understanding of governance and related processes. The non-slum households on the other hand had a greater sense of entitlement to services and were therefore on the brink of dissatisfaction on a continual perpetual basis.

Do plug into our FB page, the Terra Urban Blog, and check out #SLB Connect on Twitter to get updates on how our survey is progressing. Cross your fingers, wish us luck, and share and spread the word!

By Sharmila Ray, PRIA

India Entering into a New Era: WATSAN Survey through Mobile Phones

As soon as you enter Jaipur or Jainagar you actually get a sense of culture rich city which was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a Kachwaha Rajput in 1727 after whose name the city was being actually named. In 1878 Prince of Wales had to visit Jaipur for some administrative reforms the city was painted in the pink colour so as to welcome him in the city.

The roads are very well planned, but are mostly jam as they were planned for less population and not for population of around 6.5 millions . After a chaotic ride inside the walled city we finally arrived at our hotel which had a soothing effect on our mind’s as it was a gruelling and tiresome journey from Delhi to Jaipur. We kept our luggage at the hotel and went straight to our Jaipur office where we had to arrange logistics, training materials and other stuff required for 4 day training programme to be held at CECOEDECON. After a long working day we arrived back to our hotel which was again a beautiful haveli transformed into a hotel.

Next day in the morning we went straight to our training venue at CECOEDECON (Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society) which is one of Rajasthan’s leading civil society organizations. Its early footprints in the area of disaster relief have eventually progressed into imprinting its presence in more than 15 districts across the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. We didn’t have much experience in conducting a mobile survey and top of that conducting training for enumerators for mobile survey was an uphill task as we didn’t know what kind of questions could pop up from the interviewers.

Training with the smart phones brought a zing and happiness in the eyes of the enumerators as many of them haven’t used a smartphone in their lives. They started liking and got attracted to the newly found survey form viz a viz smart phone. They liked the idea of an error free survey which also saves time of the enumerators. Training was held with the smart phones in the campus itself and the enumerators thoroughly enjoyed it. Those who had the smart phone were quick in grasping and some were a bit slow as they haven’t used the smartphone before.

After 2 days of training the 3rd day was kept for field training of the enumerators where they had to survey the people living in the slums and also people living in the colonies. It was quite a hard task in the colonies as initially people were not willing to reply as they thought there conversation was being recorded but after more persuasion by the enumerators they started giving descriptive answers. Carrying out survey in the slums was more easy as they were quick in giving replies, thinking whenever this application is officially launched they will get some relief  from the government departments. It was quite an innovative way for the enumerators to learn from the ground realities and conditions. After the training they were given the feedback on that day itself and how well did they do on the ground.
img09” align=”left” hspace=”12″>Our team dealt with Water and Sanitation Program (WSP part of World Bank) team, team from our partner’s organisation in Jhunjhunu and Ajmer, technical consultants and other enumerators. PRIA handled the 4 day workshop with ease however there were some difficulties initially due to knowledge barriers between so many partners but after a day everybody were at ease and started the conversation on the same page. The training was also informative to all of the new joinees including myself. India is entering into a new era of reforms through mobile based surveys and we at PRIA are happy to be a part of this change.

By Sukant Shukla, PRIA

Citizen Feedback Surveys using SLB Connect, an Innovative Mobile Phone Based System

PRIA is undertaking the SLB Connect project to help improve water and sanitation services in cities by mobilizing citizen participation and feedback. The survey seeks to collect information on the quality of water and sanitation services as experienced by citizens as users of the services. PRIA brings to SLB Connect its conviction in social accountability and draws from its years of experience as an enabler of participatory democracy.

In doing so, PRIA is training and engaging with grassroots organizations and local (youth) citizens in the selected cities to both conduct and manage the survey. The results will be shared with citizen groups, civil societies, thought leaders and opinion makers including members of the academia and the media, NGOs operating in the area, government officials at the city, state and national level.

SLB Connect is an initiative by Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). It is a technology-enabled; multi-city; door-to-door household survey.  The initiative is being launched in Jhunjhunu and Ajmer in Rajasthan; Bhopal and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh; and Varanasi and Rae Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

Data collection and analysis use Information and Communication technology tools to reduce the chance of human error and improve efficiency. Surveyors are handed smart phones which are pre-loaded with the SLB Connect app developed by WSP. This app has the survey form. It additionally records the GPS position of where the questionnaire has been filled in. The data (survey response, GPS position of the surveyor during the time of the survey, time of survey submission) is fed into a web-based dashboard in real time for analysis.


Collaborating the Urban-Poor and Non- Poor: Long way to go

by Abhishek Jha, PRIA Bihar

In the last few decades Urban Poverty has been emerging as a key developmental challenge for a developing economy like India. This has also been well established by the data provided by the most recent Census of India (2011). Undoubtedly many initiatives have been taken by the government and parastatal agencies to address the challenges and issues of urban poverty, but one the problem which has remained persistent is the issue of inclusion and acceptance of the urban poor in the larger urban society.

Its notable that majority of these urban poor work in the urban informal sector which ultimately provides critical services to the cities, right from keeping the cities clean, to providing cheap labour, domestic help, cheap transport, just to name a few. The fact of lacuna in policies cannot be denied as a major cause of the exclusion of urban poor despite playing a critical role for the cities and its dwellers. But a bigger cause which generally goes unnoticed is non-acceptance of the urban poor groups in the larger urban society. To address this societal exclusion PRIA along with its active Settlement Improvement Committees (SICs) tried to collaborate with non-poor groups urban groups so that the process of inclusion can be instigated at some level. Continue reading