Mainstreaming concerns of urban poor communities across five cities

Since 2005 CFAR has been working on a plethora of initiatives aimed at integrating the concerns of urban poor communities, regarding water, sanitation, hygiene, the public distribution system, domestic violence and the basic rights and entitlements of marginalized communities, into the mainstream discourse in the country.

The first of these initiatives, which was implemented in Bengaluru, Delhi, Jaipur and Pune focused on building the capacities of grassroots communities and organizations to use the strategic tool of media to draw attention to their problems and needs and build the leadership skills of women’s forums; thereby enabling communities to collectively raise their concerns about the quality of governance in urban poor settlements. This was closely followed by an initiative that focused during its first phase 2007-2009 on extending the women’s forum model using media strategies to develop skills and facilitate innovation among poor women in urban communities. But even as we worked across these four cities it became amply clear that for urban poor communities to participate at a strategic level and in decision making processes it was essential to create accountable processes of governance.

Based on this perception the focus during the second phase of this intervention 2009-2011 was on extending it to the three cities of Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Kochi and preparing our communities to establish linkages with significant stakeholders such as government, like minded CBOs, civil society organizations and the media, while simultaneously using all possible windows of opportunity to collaborate with their respective state governmenst and its various agencies.

Meanwhile in 2008, CFAR in partnership with the Delhi Government started working on Mission Convergence, which entailed the running of a District Resource Centre (DRC) in South district and steering 21 Gender Resource Centre (GRCs) in partnership with government departments/agencies and the Deputy Commissioner of District South.  As Delhi government’s Mission Convergence partner, CFAR’s aim was to build capacities of grassroots organizations to enable better access to basic entitlements and services for the urban poor.

Presently, the intervention is working with the women’s forums in the five cities of Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata, that are registered as Community Based Organizations, to “Strengthen the Accountability Process with a Strong Gender Lens to ensure transparent governance and Delivery of Social Development Programs and Schemes across these cities”.  This initiative is spread across five cities covers 20 schools, 27 anganwadi centres and 3 maternity homes in 40 slum communities comprising of 13352 households. And the areas of intervention are education, maternal health, child marriage and mother and child health and nutrition.