Improving access to basic services for urban poor in Bengaluru
Donate now to support the first city wide survey of quality and access to basic services to Bengaluru slum residents.
Experts and studies suggest that the percentage of population living in slums in Bengaluru is approximately 20%, that’s 1 in every 5 people.
Now, imagine the city as a house with 5 people living together. Everyone has their own space, people know each other, and engage with each other everyday. In fact, it is the codependency that keeps the house running. Strangely though, the fifth member of the household stands out. You see him through the day, but not much is known. You know he occupies the most neglected room of the house that doesn’t even have a toilet, proper water tap, or decent furniture of any kind. Yet, despite living under the same roof, being one of them, nobody remembers the last time they checked up on how he managed or deliberated how he was the only one who didn’t even have access to a basic level of facilities in the house.
This is the situation of slums in the city.
Urban poverty is highly visible, yet the living condition in slums remains unacknowledged by decision makers and in key aspects of city/ward governance and budgets. There continues to be no database and documentation on the state of slums in Bengaluru. In fact, the Karnataka Slum Development Board itself only recognizes 597 of over 2000 slums in Bengaluru since 2013. In turn this also means that the existing support systems meant for the most marginalized do not fully reach the intended target.
Recent months offer undeniable proof how shocks like COVID can ravage the marginalized communities who lack access to even the most basic services or any safety nets by the city. Historically, dialogues around improvement/upliftment of slums have been deeply mired in complexity of legality. However, it is important that the city ask itself that if a dominant portion of the population is in tension with the current norms of city living, what needs to be done so the marginalized can still live dignified lives.
The goal of this project is to focus on enhancing delivery of health, sanitation, education, and water that is fundamental to existence in the city.
The city already has a provision to provide these services as - anganwadis, government schools, public health centres, public water taps, public transport, public toilets, waste management etc., and legality of slums is not a point of contention or conflict. However, at the moment, the services remain arduous, insufficient and do not reach all the slums. Some key issues include - lack of real need assessment on ground, lack of norms for infrastructure planning and priorities of the government actors.
The idea of this project is to build consent based Community Data Diaries - building profiles of each slum via GIS mapping in collaboration with the local community and associated NGO/civic organization capturing only the following data sets -
(i) No. of households
(ii) Accessibility, proximity, demand and quality of basic services
(iii) Everyday challenges in community
This mapping is to serve two major objectives:
- The first is to use the ‘State of the Slums Report’ to demonstrate requirements on ground and work with relevant ward committees and Karnataka Slum Development Board to influence ward level planning and funding of public infrastructure that has been woefully undermined. The idea is to work towards building a system of partnership between urban poor communities, supporting NGO/CBOs and government to deliver these services in the most optimized and reliable manner.
- Help slum dwellers be acknowledged and counted as rightful residents of a specific ward to engage in local governance and also ensure the support systems by government and others reach them. This includes beneficiary schemes available through each ward committee.
In order to negate any risk to the communities, no data pertaining to status of land ownership, notification/non-notification of slums or any other sensitive information about religion and origin of migration will be captured. All data is to be gathered with consent and shared back with the communities.
Timeline and budget
The city has over 2000 slums. Given the scale of the study, the methodology here is to work in close coordination with existing NGO groups in Bengaluru that engage directly with slum communities to aggregate secondary data available with the organizations as well as take their support to collect primary data to fill the gaps.
Keeping in mind the highly dependency on unknowns and external stakeholders, the project is planned in a phased manner.
- Phase A - 4 months: Mapping of 200 slums (100 notified & 100 non-notified slums)
- Phase B - 4 months: Mapping of 500 slums
- Phase C - 4 months: Mapping of 500+ slums
- Phase C - 4 months: Mapping of 700+ slums
“To be on the map is to be acknowledged, it is to be known, it is to be recognized, it is to be counted. It is for the world to know that you are there, and that you have needs, that you have dignity, that you have rights” - Ivan Gaton.
This project is a second step to operationalise our previous work to create a framework for assessing urban vulnerability. Find the report here - https://www.sensinglocal.in/post/assessing-urban-vulnerability. We have also actively been involved in supporting Bengaluru municipality, BBMP in mapping and planning the city’s solid waste management (SWM) system where a key win has been to extend waste collection to slums where waste would otherwise end up in black spots / garbage dumping locations, harming the whole neighbourhood. The SWM system regards all housing including slums as waste generators, and therefore offers a precedent for how to build institutional systems that cater to all citizens of the city.
About Sensing Local Foundation
Sensing Local is an urban planning do-tank that works towards tackling environmental and public health challenges in Indian cities, with projects tackling air pollution, water management, waste management etc. We also work towards improving urban governance and supporting local communities to become more empowered actors in city making and claiming the city.
We are also championing a second project that looks at scaling our existing work with local communities to build more sustainable neighbourhoods. Do see our second fundraiser and we invite you to join us in realising it!!
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