Tag Archives: Kerala

Strengthening civil society voice on urban poverty in Kerala – Initiative by SAHAYI, SPARC and PRIA

SAHAYI with SPARC and PRIA has been taking necessary steps for poverty alleviation through collectivising civil society and people at large, developing the much needed database and empowering the people with the necessary knowledge about issues around urban poverty issues and its governance in Kerala. A consultation for the same was conducted in May 2012 and a follow up meeting with the participants/ CSOs in August 2012.

The consultation and the information base have highlighted the environment of urban poverty in Kerala with main issues such as:

  • More than fifteen lakh families of the state, alias ‘gods own country’ are still in the clutches of poverty
  • While rural poverty is getting concentrated in the agricultural Labour and artisan households’ urban poverty is in the casual labour households
  • Rapid growth of urban population, expansion of existing towns and cities and low investment in urban development have created deficiencies in basic amenities especially in the urban areas. The shortages are serious for the urban poor due to inequality in the access to these amenities.
  • Land tenure, environmental threat, development on untenable and environmentally sensitive sites of slums, lack of facilities, lack of proper data on urban poverty, absence of proper social support system, non-convergence of activities of various government departments and the lack of community empowerment are the issues that the urban poor of Kerala face.
  • Also it is a clear fact the funds released for urban poverty alleviation programes have only seen about 60% expenditure in Municipalities while only 45% in Municipal Corporations in Kerala


The consultations saw participation of CSOs, CBOs, community members and municipal councillors. SAHAYI took the opportunity of this consultation and disseminated knowledge and information about all urban poverty schemes- both central and state applicable to Kerala. The consultation stressed on the role of civil society for an accountable and participatory delivery of these schemes. During the consultation various issues in respect to community participation and awareness of the scheme of urban poverty surfaced, such as:

  • The CSO representatives and the councillors pointed out that non accessibility of the details of the schemes in Malayalam (local language), non-availability of a platform to discuss and deliberate upon the urban poverty and related issues, lack of resources including human resources, non-cooperation of the urban local bodies and urban poor, etc. were the factors which hindered their active involvement in urban poverty reduction intervention.
  • Municipal councillors that participated in the programme expressed their non-clarity regarding various provisions in the RAY scheme for community participation and CSO participation. They also stated that Corporations have given more emphasis in achieving physical targets rather than qualitative aspects.
  • CSOs also expressed the need for a direction and forum to collectivise on urban poverty issues in the State.

SAHAYI has prepared 7 learning materials in Malayalam on urban poverty/ urban development schemes, which are being implemented by Municipalities/ Municipal Corporations in Kerala and distributed the learning materials among the participants. These learning materials not only informed them about the schemes but also enthused their participation in discussions and deliberations. All participants thereafter took the opportunity to discuss these issues in focus group discussions and proposed the following steps towards strengthening the role of civil society to address urban poverty issues:

  • Formation of an informal urban development forum of civil society organisations to initiate continuous actions.
  • Mapping/identification of like-minded groups/individual by each CSO in their locality and discuss the issues with them.
  • Informal meeting with Community and organising of awareness generation orientation programme for them regarding poverty reduction schemes and other development programmes of Municipality and Municipal Corporations.
  • Media dialogue and sensitise them to cover urban poverty and related issues.
  • Capacity building of civil society organisations to strengthen the civil society voices on urban poverty and related issues.
  • Dissemination of learning materials on urban schemes/programmes and sharing of experience.
  • Discussions/interactions with elected representatives, officials and other actors at Municipality/Corporations.
  • Occasional meeting of civil society organisations and review the progress of the activities.
  • In Trivandrum district Joint meetings of CSOs, CBOs and other likeminded people at Trivandrum Corporation, Neyyatinkara, Attingal, Nedumangad will be organised.

These consultations have been one catalyst step in the realm of urban poverty and role of civil society to address the same, and shall be an impetus for a ripple effect to strengthen the role of civil society.

The participation of CSOs in the Consultative meetings has created an interest and commitment among different CSOs, working collaborates in the area of urban poverty and related aspects. Initiation of an informal urban development forum of CSOs has taken place and it will create opportunity for continuous dialogue and knowledge sharing through consultations with other stakeholders. Several CSO leaders that participated in the meeting have taken up urban poverty and related issues as one of their major agenda of operation in the coming period. SAHAYI is keeping in touch with each CSOs participated in the programme and are providing follow up support to plan and organise activities at their local level. Occasional meeting of the civil society organisation are planned to review the progress of the planned activities


State and City Level Consultations on Urban Poverty- Kerala by SAHAYI, PRIA and SPARC – May 2012

By Sri. G. Jose, Project Manager, Sahayi

With the intention of strengthening civil society voices on urban poverty in Kerala, Sahayi in collaboration with PRIA, New Delhi and SPARC, Mumbai has initiated a promotional and facilitative role in Kerala. . As first step of its intervention, Sahayi organised a city level consultation on urban poverty in Kollam Corporation on May 26, 2012 and 76 participants participated in the programme and a state level consultation at Thiruvanthapuram on the 28th of May with 30 participants.

Kollam saw participation of The Municipal Corporation Councilors, civil society organisation representatives, leaders of Community Development Societies and other community based organisations, residents associations , officials, representatives of different agencies which undertake poverty reduction programmes like RAY, KSUDP, Kudumbasree and media personnel. At Thiruvanthapuram participants comprised leading civil society organisations like Malankara Social Service Society, Trivandrum Social Service Society, World vision India, Loyola Extension Service; Community Development Society, corporation councilor, officials from urban poverty alleviation cell, residents association leaders, project officer from Rajeev Awas Yojana etc.

Director of Sahayi, Sri. G. Placid highlighted the current trend of growth of population in urban area and the issues related to high density of population such as increased urban poverty, Increase in the number of slums, unemployment, lack of basic amenities and services and increasing violence and crime. He added that the magnitude of urban unemployment is increasing due to the weakness of the economy, short sighted vision of the planners, non-sustainability of the initiated actions through different projects and programmes. He also stated that in Kollam Municipal Corporation area most of the urban poor are working in unorganized sector such as fishing, cashew manufacturing workers, domestic work; street vending etc. Their low economic status forced them to live in slums and colonies. He further  shared the availability and utilization of plan fund  by the municipalities and corporation during the  11th five year plan period in Kerala, and the low profile of spending in Corporations  during the  year 200-2008-2010-2011 especially in anti-poverty programmes, women component plans etc

Sri. A.A.Assis, Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly and State Secretary of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) at Kollam mentioned that even though Municipal Corporations and state Government have developed policies, prepared programmes and budgets and implemented such programmes for urban poverty reduction those who are responsible for its implementation are implementing such activities without understanding the true spirit. The powers now vest in people but the people are not yet prepared themselves to take up and effectively make use of the powers. So he stressed the need for empowering the community especially the poor and marginalised and ensures the effective conduct of Ward Sabhas/Ward Committees with active participation of the community.

Adv. Lalu, Deputy Mayor, Kollam Municipal Corporation opined that the major challenges they faced with regard to the rehabilitation of slum dwellers/urban poor were shortage of land and rapid increasing land price and the unwillingness of slum dwellers to move into new premises, slums are on railway land and even the indicators developed for BPL identification are inadequate.

During the experience sharing session, the welfare standing committee Chairman of Kollam Corporation, who is in-charge of Kudumbasree activities, stated instead of allotting funds to pre-determined programmes, programmes to be developed on the basis of felt needs identified through participatory methods. Moreover, implementation of the programmes to be monitored and their efficacy to be evaluated by the community. But unfortunately no such intervention is happened so far. He further stated that the LSGs are preparing projects first and then think of beneficiaries and this is the drawback of many poverty reduction schemes.

Shri. Karthikeyan at Thiruvanthapuram, Programme officer, Rajeev Awas Yojana State Cell explained the activities of RAY in improving the living conditions of slum dwellers. Rev. Fr. Sabbas Ignatius, Director, Trivandrum Social Service Society(TSSS) and Rev. Fr. John Vilayil, Director, Malankara Social Service Society presented the work their respective organisations do on urban poverty issues.

The participants raised several key issues in connection with poverty reduction and pointed out certain remedial measures to address the issues. The major issues highlighted by them include; lack of coordination among various agencies working for poverty reduction, lack of sincere attempt on the part of authorities to ensure people’s participation, apathetic attitude of community members towards welfare/development activities, beneficiary oriented approach of urban poor, improper identification of the needs of the area and the beneficiaries, non accessibility of information on the status of urban poverty reduction programmes, limited involvement of community members in the implementation and monitoring of various programmes due to several reasons, lack of awareness among various stakeholders including urban poor regarding poverty reduction programmes and the components in each programmes, lack of unity and coordination among CBOs.


State/ City Consultations on Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty – Rajasthan/ Kerala

PRIA and SPARC along with a number of partner civil society and community based organization are working towards strengthening civil society voices and actions on ever increasing issues in urban poverty in different states of the country.

One of the major inadequacies in taking forward the agenda of inclusion and active participation of the urban poor in various government run programmes is weak civil society engagement with issues of urban poverty and urban governance. There are just a handful of civil society organizations in the country, which have focused on organizing and mobilizing the urban poor to claim their rights and thereby to secure active participation and ownership of urban development programmes. There is no national network of civil society, or even a sub- sectorial coalition, that focuses on these issues on a sustained basis.  A strong civil society engagement would be crucial at city level and also at the state government level; however, engagement at the national level can then be valuable to ensure supportive policies and guidelines from the central government and other agencies like the Planning Commission.

With the aim to strengthen this civil society participation, we are organising State and City Level Consultation in Kerala (Trivandrum and Kollam) and Rajasthan (Jaipur)

In Kerala, city and state level multi stakeholder consultations, is to be held respectively on 26th May and 28th May in Kollam and Trivandrum, and is aimed at sharing (cum action planning on the basis) of collective experiences.. The objective of this consultation is to evolve a collective understanding through dialogues on methods and approaches to address the issues of urban poverty in the state. This consultation would also strive to sensitize and educate different sections of society about the need to strategically and collectively focus on issues of urban poor. We are expecting participants from community, civil society, academia, media and government to participate in this consultation.

In Jaipur, we are organizing a state level workshop on 2nd June, 2012, at Institute for Development Studies (IDS), Jhalana Institutional Area, Jaipur, to ensure supportive strategies and tactics for enhancing community participation and ascertaining people participation by empowering the stakeholders by the knowledge about various government run programmes and schemes.

For more details on the consultations please be free to contact TerraUrban!