by Dr. Suman Bhanoo, PRIA
Recently on Terra Urban you have read the GPS Mapping by JJEKM and PRIA in B- 5 Bandhu Camp, Vasant Kunj, Delhi https://terraurban.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/we-are-putting-the-slums-on-the-map/. PRIA and partner organisation JJEKM jointly started GPS mapping in South Delhi’s informal settlement. Group of SIC members and youth group of community enthusiastically participated in GPS mapping and whole community assisted the team during the process of mapping. After completing initial around of GPS mapping, PRIA team again went to the location to orient community regarding transferring of GPS data to Google earth and then to a Google map. In one go GPS instrument marks only 350 households and after marking initial households, data is supposed to transfer to Google earth. During this session all community members gathered under one roof and shared their GPS mapping related experiences. Informal settlers were enthusiastic to learn more about mapping exercise and many families came to complain that their households have not been marked (which will be marked in next round). Process of mapping unmapped location has developed excitement, enthusiasm and expectations among community, which explicitly shows active involvement of community is key ingredient of community development. Calling for community members in the development process not just increases their responsibilities towards community resources but also furnish an opportunity to develop required skills and cognition.
Mr. Prem Singh is the community president and for last 25 years he is residing in Bandhu Camp. Here is the anecdote of his GPS mapping experience:
“Many government and private groups came here for survey but they didn’t give a heed to explain the purpose of the survey. They always asked some information and we responded. Indirectly they made us realize that we are neglected and marginalized group of society. But during PRIA and JJKM’s GPS mapping, they have involved youngsters, SIC group and all other community members. It was like journey of learning. Now I know very well how GPS instrument functions and its importance. Now I am very well acquainted with the fact that it has myriad benefits, it can be used as evidence in court to stop evictions, can be presented to city planners and authorities to draw their attention towards various issues and challenges that we are facing. It is an appropriate tool that can be used to raise awareness among community. When we started GPS mapping I was bit skeptical as I have misfortune of not getting higher education but once they trained us, it was not less than sheer fun. We have completed one round of mapping and soon we will be going to complete rest of the mapping exercise. Now we are well aware that in case of any mishappening GPS map is going to be the big support for us. Few days back D-6 slum of Vasant Kunj’s met with an unfortunate fire and due to lack of any supporting evidence they are facing problems. It would be great help for us during any calamitous incident. Throughout our life we have faced identity crisis but I am glad that our slum will be globally visible. It is a matter of honor and prestige. I am excited to see our settlement on Google map”.
Dearth of basic amenities, lack of social security and uncertainties of life are the integral part of
life in informal settlements, but hope to get better life and better living is the driving force. Process of mapping the unmapped is an attempt to put neglected sections of society on global map. It is an endevaor to highlight their existance and challenges.