Meet the Architect Remodeling the Properties of Lakhs of Slum Dwellers


For Lata Ratan Misal, a resident of Indira Vasahat in Pune, the stroll from her residence to the neighborhood bogs was an extended one. It felt longer at evening. Misal would usually ask her granddaughter to accompany her. However then, she’d fear about the woman’s security whereas she visited the bathroom.

The duo discovered some respite to those woes in 2021. That yr, hope arrived within the slum space by means of a venture began by NGO Shelter Associates — based by Pune-based architect Pratima Joshi in 1993. As Joshi shares with The Higher India, the founding thought of the NGO was (and is) to facilitate entry to sanitation, housing and water within the slum areas of India.

Misal was one of many many residents in Pune’s Indira Vasahat who was supplied with a rest room inside her home; a rarity that she nonetheless recollects to be a “blessing”. Whereas Misal was having fun with this newfound luxurious in her Pune residence, 150 km away in Parshiwadi, Thane, one other gentleman Janardhan Gopal Jadhav was on the brink of assemble his residence rest room with the fabric offered by Shelter Associates.

It was excessive time. Jadhav and the opposite residents of the world had been interesting for brand new drainage networks for years. However their cries fell on deaf ears. That yr, Joshi’s crew visited the world geared up with sanctions and supplies.

“Due to this, we might get bogs inbuilt our home at a really low price. This has been a boon to a number of households residing right here, particularly for disabled folks,” Jadhav notes.

Children from slum areas posing against the backdrop of their newly built homes
Youngsters from slum areas posing towards the backdrop of their newly constructed houses, Image supply: Pratima

“These tales are the explanation I began,” Joshi emphasises.

Regardless of an architectural background, she selected to not go the normal route of business initiatives and opted as a substitute for the event sector. She credit her grasp’s course at London’s Bachelor’s College of Structure and Planning for her unconventional decisions.

“Subjects like city poverty are not often coated in architectural programs. However these me. Throughout my grasp’s, we had been taught by a number of main planners and designers. By the point I used to be by means of with the course, I had made up my thoughts to dedicate my abilities to the have-nots of the town.”

A yr later, Joshi moved to Pune the place she began her social enterprise. As she provides, the imaginative and prescient on the time was to revolutionise slum settlements in India by means of a community-centric strategy.

Thirty years later, this imaginative and prescient hasn’t modified.

The people of the slums are an integral part of the planning and development process
The folks of the slums are an integral a part of the planning and growth course of, Image supply: Pratima

Respiratory hope into the slums of India

Remind her of the impression Shelter Associates has managed to create as we speak — 27,000 slum houses geared up with a rest room inside the house — and Joshi says these numbers had been as soon as solely a dream. “I had no social work background,” she reminds us.

However whilst she stood precariously on the sting of this new venture in 1993, with nothing to information her however pure intuition, her amateurism turned out to be a boon. The novelty of issues was horrifying but additionally liberating, she provides.

Three many years sturdy, Shelter Associates has survived the take a look at of time. Pointing to the key sauce that has paved the way in which to success, Joshi says it’s “information”.“This was the lacking piece once we began.” Early on, she noticed the shortage of well-formulated information to be the explanation behind haphazard insurance policies and initiatives that had been being finished. The impression was invisible.

Pratima Joshi works closely on ground with the slum dwellers and key people involved in planning and designing of policies
Pratima Joshi works intently on floor with the slum dwellers and key folks concerned in planning and designing of insurance policies, Image supply: Pratima Joshi

Information was new territory to the architect too. With out information, they couldn’t proceed. Thoughts you, this was within the late 90s when expertise akin to Google Maps didn’t exist.

Resorting to the one useful resource she might discover, Joshi opted for GIS (Geographic Info Techniques) — software program that shops, manages, analyses, edits, outputs, and visualises geographic information. She used the software program to analyse information — akin to general census info, infrastructure, and details about entry to amenities akin to bogs, and water.

“We had been properly forward of our occasions,” Joshi boasts, smiling at how their “obsession for information”, which was usually laughed at, turned their strongest anchor.

In 2005, when Google Earth was launched, the mapping finished by Shelter Associates received a shot within the arm. The satellite-backed maps went on to kind the premise for a key venture of the NGO — offering houses in slum areas with plus codes and digital addresses.

Shelter Associates also conducts frequent menstrual awareness camps and workshops to educate women and girls about sustainable options such as menstrual cups
Shelter Associates additionally conducts frequent menstrual consciousness camps and workshops to teach girls and women about sustainable choices akin to menstrual cups, Image supply: Pratima Joshi

These plus codes are decided from the latitudinal and longitudinal location of the slum cluster and are distinctive to every residence. Immediately, over 87,500 houses are reaping the advantages of getting a ‘plus-code’ because it helps them get deliveries, groceries and extra, notably when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

However that being stated, Joshi was intent that the one goal of mapping shouldn’t be to convey order to the chaos but additionally to reply vital questions. “Certain, mapping lets us know the place of each manhole, each water stand put up, rubbish bin, electrical pole, and so on. However I believed ‘What if one was to have a look at a map and instantly have the ability to level out the houses that had their very own water connection, or their very own neighborhood rest room?’ Now that may be an ideal map.”

With the concept of bringing the maps that they had created alive, Shelter Associates started conducting surveys on the bottom to know the finer dynamics of the slum clusters.

Over 27,000 homes have been equipped with a toilet inside the home through Shelter Associates 'One Home One Toilet' project
Over 27,000 houses have been geared up with a rest room inside the house by means of Shelter Associates ‘One Residence One Rest room’ venture, Image supply: Pratima Joshi

Entry to sanitation is a primary proper

What are the stereotypes you’ve harboured about slums? “That they breed in giant numbers, that they don’t thoughts residing in unclean circumstances, that they need companies at no cost?” Joshi asks and solutions.

“Properly, the information we gathered instructed in any other case,” she notes.

A survey performed by Shelter Associates deduced that 70 p.c of households wished a rest room within the residence in distinction to a neighborhood rest room. In actual fact, they had been even keen to shoulder part of the associated fee. That’s precisely what the enterprise’s ‘One Residence One Rest room’ venture was aimed toward. It was launched to assist sort out the issue of open defecation and the ensuing stress on sanitation programs in slum areas. That objective has been achieved throughout key slum areas of the town.

Over 5,00,000 slum dwellers have been impacted by Shelter Associates' projects
Over 5,00,000 slum dwellers have been impacted by Shelter Associates’ initiatives, Image supply: Pratima Joshi

One other survey household sizes concluded that the common household dimension is 4–5 in areas throughout Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Kolhapur and Navi Mumbai the place their work is concentrated.

“You see how information helps bust myths?” Joshi is fast to level out.

Whereas Joshi hatched a dream of bettering housing companies for slum dwellers, she was eager that it shouldn’t uproot their lives. Working example, she elaborates on the ‘Slum Rehabilitation’ venture that was undertaken in Sangli-Miraj between 2011 and 2015.

“An entire citywide strategy was adopted to work out a really delicate answer for folks residing in 29 settlements throughout Sangli and Miraj. The venture was accomplished with greater than 1,500 households getting a safe roof over their heads. These households received a really well-planned home which has mild air flow and what’s extra, is that these folks had been utterly concerned within the design course of.”

Her subsequent focus is one other rehabilitation venture in Kanpur, which she says is among the first of its form in Maharashtra. “A whole neighborhood is getting rehabilitated!” Joshi says.

“This might be a template for different tier-two cities to comply with,” she provides. “It actually appears to be like at each settlement with a vulnerability matrix — you begin working backwards from essentially the most weak to make it possible for all of them get introduced into mainstream housing.”

A menstrual hygiene workshop being conducted in one of the slum clusters
A menstrual hygiene workshop being performed in one of many slum clusters, Image supply: Pratima Joshi

Except for this, by means of the menstrual hygiene workshops performed by Shelter Associates, they urge girls and women within the slum areas of India to go for menstrual cups which might be sustainable. “This program helps underprivileged slum girls and women to alter the conservative attitudes round menstruation,” notes Joshi including that over 2,500 women have made the swap.

The enterprise’s strong waste administration venture focuses on segregating several types of strong waste and their secure disposal. “Our skilled volunteers use spatial information to trace and monitor the waste assortment serving to waste collectors attain each final family. We additionally assist neighborhood members to coordinate with the respective ULB members to put drainage strains, organize for rubbish bins, and clear dumping websites,” Joshi provides.

As she watches the city clusters silhouetted towards the Mumbai skyline, Joshi’s dream is for folks in slum areas too, to get entry to raised requirements of residing. As for the street forward, she is definite it’ll be an extended one. However she says her preliminary years formed her learnings.

“We actually kind of jumped into it after which realized to swim. We realized the exhausting means.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shelter Associates conducted various vaccination and testing camps in the slum areas
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Shelter Associates performed varied vaccination and testing camps within the slum areas, Image supply: Pratima Joshi
The women spend their evenings together talking, playing games and enjoying their newly built spaces
The ladies spend their evenings collectively speaking, taking part in video games and having fun with their newly constructed areas, Image supply: Pratima
Waste segregation practices are inculcated in the people residing in the slum areas
Waste segregation practices are inculcated within the folks residing within the slum areas, Image supply: Pratima

Edited by Pranita Bhat


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