Recently I got an opportunity to associate with the ngo SPARC in Mumbai that works on housing issues of pavement and slum dwellers. Monali from SPARC explained me about their projects and took me to one of their rehabilitation project.
What struck me about SPARC is their methodology. They do not look at slums as projects, rather they are more involved in the process. They see it as a community of people with aspirations and dreams, people who want to lead a normal life without fear of eviction. In most of the areas, SPARC's involvement is limited to the initial stages and involved clarifying government regulations, supporting women to identify a successful strategy and giving them the confidence to carry it through. They mobilize people, empower community to address their issues and find solutions.
Some of the unique characteristics of SPARC are:
Lakshmi and Sakina - Active members of Mahila Milan
since its inception
* Focus is on ‘process’ and not just projects.
*Women are main actors of change. ( Mahila Milan is a decentralized network of poor women's collectives that manage credit and savings activities in their communities. It aims to provide a space for women to take on important decision making roles and be recognized for their critical contributions towards improving the lives of their communities. Mahila Milan was initiated in 1986 when 500 women who lived on Mumbai's pavements organized themselves to successfully prevent the demolitions of their homes. Today, Mahila Milan has given out tens of thousands of loans to poor women all across the country and has collected savings worth millions of rupees.)
*Started credit and savings in slums (Who otherwise spend what
they earn in the same day).
* Empowering the community to handle their issues (Training the
slums dwellers to approach government, find solutions for their problems, Encouraging the community to carry out their socio-economic surveys, be
a continuous part of the project)
SPARC s methodology evolved over time and is based on the necessities and is one of its kind model. It can be stated as one of the best practices in the country. Shelter is a basic necessity and organisations who get a slum project must handle it with great care and not merely see it as projects. All corporations must engage organizations like SPARC for community empowering and participatory planning for all slum rehabilitation/ redevelopment schemes. Having such best practices, other cities should also adopt them and not reinvent the wheel!
For more information, visit the link.
PS: Due to word limit, I could not write about Mahila Milan Nagar, first initiative of SPARC which is a model slum rehabilitation project - I intend to write on it next week :-).