(Les expériences de SPARC et YUVA à Bombay)
09 / 1995
1. SPARC (Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers)
SPARC was founded as an NGO in 1984 in Bombay. It works with the urban poor, particularely pavement dwellers and street chidren, drug abuse and networking between women’s organizations. The following is its organizational philosophy:
1. Central participation of women and urban poor communities. Those who face the problem are the best equipped to identify the elements of a workable solution.
2. Processes, not products, create movements for change. Lack of shelter is due first to political reasons. Unless this is addressed, technical solutions cannot works.
3. Informed participation is crucial for movements to be sustained and to survive. Every participant must know why and have the knowledge needed to make an informed choice of options.
SPARC began working with pavement dwellers, especially with women in these settlements. These women collectives gradually evolved and formed Mahila Milan.
Mahila Milan is a network of women not only in the pavement slums of bombay but also in the other slum settlements in Bombay as well as the other cities of India. Its role is to support women’s collectives to become important actors in decision making in the community and to equip them with skills to play different roles.
The National Slum Federation is an organization which allows the slum community leaders to address the wider issues on areas of poverty and urban survival.
The 3 organizations work in close association with each other and have developed different roles and functions in relationship with each other based on the needs of the communities which they represent. Their activities cover the following range of activities:
1. Assist communities to resist evictions, secure land and strengthen their right to stay in urban settlements.
2.Strengthen capacities of women collectives and community leaders to sustain the interest and involvement of their own communities in the ongoing processes of getting resources.
3. Build on knowledge that people have already and assist them (the community leaders)to train others and support them to do the things that are needed to be done. This way the community leaders become trainers and teachers and support each other.
4. Learn to organize programs, in the areas of savings and credit (with loan from HUDCO), undertaking construction, negotiation for land and deal with the various professionals they need to deal with.
5. Work towards long term strategies for change and work out effective mechanisms which demostrate their success, thus encouraging poor people to use it.
6. Participate in a wide range of research and documentation processes which assist all of the above.
2. YUVA (Youth For Unity and Voluntary Action)
YUVA’s origin is closely linked with the people who make their living while staying on pavements and in shanties. After the 1985 Supreme Court Judgment empowered the Bombay Municipality to undertake evictions, YUVA focused ist action on pavement settlers, Jogeshwari slum residents and street children. YUVA has involved itself in making people articulate their own struggles in:
- obtaining a legal identity;
- accessing to civic amenities;
- stopping forced evictions;
- establishing housing as a basic right.
Activists imparted political and legal training and special attention is paid to develop the leadership of women. Around 60 pavement settlements are supported through the Pavement Dwellers Organization. In Jogeshwari East there are about 3,500 chawls (houses for rent). 1,800 chawls are registered. YUVA supports the renters’fight against the abuses of the chawl owners.
In Bombay, YUVA is well known for incorporating political awareness in its training workshops. Two organizations, one of pavement dwellers and other of slum dwellers, presented their candidates in the local election to call the attention of their existence and to make known their political platform to the general public. Their position was widely covered by the press.
Their political platform affirmed that people who build the cities have rights on the city and its resources and that people’s audit is necessary to monitor the local authorities, especially with respect to increases of wealth while holding office and with respect to the fulfillment of their manifesto, with the right to recall these authorities in case of gross abuses.
In the City of Bombay, two NGO´s are working actively with the street dwellers and the city’s poorest inhabitants. SPARC and YUVA have proposed two different strategies to the government: the former is more in accordance with the government and involves work with HUDCO, a government agency. The later is more antagonistic toward the government. Each one creates opportunities for the poor inhabitants of the slums and the street dwellers of Bombay. Each one has different relations with the Bombay Municipality.
Data card carried out for the governmentT/NGO cooperation project in the field of human settlement.
YUVA; SPARC, Housing the poor, the Asian Experience, THE ASIAN COALITION OF HOUSING RIGHTS, 1993/01 (PHILIPPINES)