Some companies are changing the face of urban slums against all odds
A tripartite model
In 1996, the sharda Trust (Arvind’s csr arm) chose Sanjay Nagar, in Ahmedabad, with about 1,200 residents belonging to 200 families, as the most deserving and willing to be emancipated, based on a fact-based survey of the different localities in Ahmedabad. Since then, the Trust has delivered a transformation that has won recognition, including from the UN Centre for Human Settlement, as one of ‘100 best global practices’.
The Trust came up with an innovative model of development, which created a three-way partnership with the residents and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, wherein each party contributed one-third of the amount required to clean and reform the neighbourhood, including basic
amenities of paved roads with appropriate gradient for drainage, drinking water and toilets.
The tripartite model resulted in the successful outcome of this public-private-partnership. By making the residents co-investors, it made them equal stakeholders rather than beneficiaries of patronage. The municipal corporation explicitly agreed to let the Trust lead the execution and stay on the sidelines – this proved crucial in making timely decisions. Arvind as a corporate entity behind the Trust went beyond the agreement to provide tactical support – including helping with loans through sewa Bank so that the residents could bring in their part of the commitment.
The upgrade of physical infrastructure, also drove the transformation of the social fabric – whilst earlier people used to be completely illiterate and engage in arguments and fights, the improved facilities resulted in people focused on pursuing better health, education and behaviour. In 2014-15, the residents of Sanjay Nagar proactively invited Arvind to be the executing partner. All families were handed over the flats by the Gujarat cm in
Developing ‘my community’
Hcl Foundation’s integrated community development programme for underprivileged urban communities encompasses migrant workers and displaced people living in urban slums. Under this programme, hcl Foundation addresses vital issues through city-wide campaigns. All interventions carried out by hcl Foundation, in urban neighbourhoods, where hcl is present, are categories under its flagship project called ‘My Community’.
My Community is operational in ncr (Noida, Gurgaon and Delhi); Chennai, Madurai, Lucknow, Kolkata and Pune. Soon, the project will also be rolled out in Vijaywada and Nagpur.
With a philosophy of ensuring lasting positive change, hcl believes in investing in cities, where it operates in. Hence, hcl Foundation addresses issues that are in the remit of its thematic focus areas, in these cities.
The urban community development interventions were essentially initiated by hcl Foundation to address the issues in immediate neighbourhoods. Soon, hcl employees from the core business also came forward to work with hcl Foundation as volunteers to champion some of these initiatives.
Given the pace of urbanisation and people forced to live in inhabitable slums growing within metro cities, this has now become a flagship project. Interventions across themes, which were standalone activities till 2015, have been consolidated using an integrated community development approach. The term My Community has been coined with an idea that hcl goes beyond its premises to work with the larger community in the city.
Education through gurukuls: Gurukuls are physical centres or outreach community education activities that create an enabling environment for mainstream education for children, youth, women and men, living in urban slums. One of its key objectives is to support the education of children who may be at risk of never attending or discontinuing schooling due to socio-economic circumstances.
In 2016-17, more than 6,000 children enrolled in hcl Gurukul bridge, pre- and in-school programmes, 12,000 children enrolled in the life skills programme; and many others benefitted from sports events; night vigil camps and rehabilitation support; a child sexual abuse sensitisation programme; and a digital literacy programme. About 150 digital learning centres have been established across India.
Addressing gender equality in urban slums through Confident Girls, hcl has designed this to transform girls into confident and self-reliant persons who are digitally literate, well-informed on matters relevant to them, and able to make decisions about their personal and professional lives.
hcl Foundation partners with experienced ngos for this initiative and works towards gender equal communities, while also working with boys and men. About 39 teachers and 82 hcl volunteers have been trained under this; and 2,300 girls have been reached in 2016-17 through the Confident Girls initiative.
hcl Foundation’s yuvakendras in urban areas and centres are community hubs that impart short-term skill building training to youth who have had little education and are from low-income backgrounds.
Yuvakendras train them in areas such as computer skills, information technology, business process outsourcing, healthcare, and retail services and customer relations.
The foundation also works to build entrepreneurial skills. As a part of this approach, women receive training and awareness on income generation opportunities and help to establish self-help groups. About 4,000 young people received skill enhancement training through 13 Yuvakendras. About 80 per cent of youth enrolled in hcl Yuvakendra were placed in jobs. As many as 2,000 women benefitted through the employment and livelihood programme.
Universal access to healthcare for people living in urban slums: hcl Foundation partners with specialised organisations and government to ensure access to preventive and curative health care services across all age groups, for people living in urban slums.
There is specific focus on maternal and infant health, immunisation, combating malnutrition and adolescent health. Under this pillar, hcl Foundation also caters to the needs of geriatric population. About 300 aged individuals have been provided with holistic care.
A swachh approach
Hindustan Unilever has built a first-of-its-kind urban water, hygiene and sanitation community centre named ‘Suvidha’ in Azad Nagar, Ghatkopar, one of the largest slums in Mumbai. The Suvidha Centre is a holistic approach to address the issues of poor personal hygiene, lack of laundry facilities, lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation.
The centre provides toilets that flush, hand-washing facilities with soap, clean showers, safe drinking water and laundry facilities at an affordable cost. Suvidha Centre uses circular economy principles to reduce water use. Fresh water is first used for brushing teeth, bathing, hand-washing and laundry. The waste water from these activities becomes the input for flushing toilets. About 90 per cent of the water is recycled.
This Centre was launched by hul on World Toilet Day in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and Pratha Samajik Sanstha, a community-based organisation. The project was devised, developed and built in close consultation with the local community. Suvidha is a community centre that meets real needs of people living in urban slums.
It provides a sustainable solution, keeping in mind future needs (for instance, water availability is to be reduced significantly). Currently, this centre caters to over 1,500 people. It is a market-based solution that is designed to be affordable and replicable.
hul also has the Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat programme which has three key thrust areas: an on-ground behaviour change model, a mass media campaign to drive engagement and awareness and mobile education on health and hygiene led by factory workers.
Swachh Basti uses multiple engagement points – school children, home to home (families), doctor’s clinics to help create behaviour change. We believe that children are effective agents of behaviour change and hence we involved children in our mass media campaign.
The Swachhata Doot programme on the other hand involves hul’s factory workers as ambassadors of change in their communities around manufacturing units. Suvidha Centre was devised, developed collective action among various stakeholders and active participation of local communities. hul’s role is to start as a provider and exit as an enabler.
Through Swachh Basti and Swachhata Doot programmes, the company has reached 200,000 people till date (through multiple engagement points like school contact programme, home-to-home programme and neo-natal programme).