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GDI Lecture: Diana Mitlin on urban development and inequalities

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Addressing shelter inequalities: Lessons from urban India

"Housing in the Global South faces a number of challenges, including poor construction quality, citizen exclusion, and (in)appropriate standards, leading to significant inequalities.

What lessons emerge for tackling urban shelter inequalities from experiences in the Global South? Prof Mitlin will share findings from research in India where civil society organisations have been working with municipal and state governments to address housing needs through innovation."


The Global Development Lecture Series brings experts involved in global development to The University of Manchester. It aims to facilitate dialogue and discussion, providing a space for leading development thinkers to share their latest research and ideas.

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GDI Lecture: Diana Mitlin on urban development and inequalities

  1. 1. Global Development Institute Lecture Series #GDILecture @GlobalDevInst, @DianaMitlin
  2. 2. Addressing shelter inequalities: Lessons from India Professor Diana Mitlin GDI Lecture 4 October 2017 #GDILecture
  3. 3. Housing has been in the news • Why is housing in crisis? • Why, in the context of the UK, is housing now an issue? • Why are 1 billion living in informal settlements; one in seven? • Location and finance • Standards and construction quality • Voice and inclusion #GDILecture
  4. 4. UK crisis has more widespread relevance? • What do we know about how the housing challenges can be addressed? • Are these critical pathways of disadvantage and potential opportunity? • Explore these through the lens of research in India #GDILecture
  5. 5. Back to 2013-15 • Before Modi took up office in India • Back to 2005 and the launch of the JNNURM • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was launched to secure three objectives: – accelerate economic growth, – address the needs of the urban poor, – improve urban governance and further the enactment of the 74th constitutional amendments. • JNNURM has two sub-missions: focus on the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) • Objectives of the BSUP: to provide shelter, basic services and other related civil amenities to low-income settlements: security of tenure, affordable housing, water, sanitation, health care, education and social security • But it became a housing programme #GDILecture
  6. 6. The multi-dimensional nature of urban poverty in India • 13.7% of urban dwellers below income poverty line – Under-estimate as does not include street homeless and pavement dwellers • 68-93 million live in informal settlements, 18% and 25% of the urban population – Probable underestimate as small settlements excluded • Informal settlement residents lack access to basic services and infrastructure • 51% have water piped to their house • 60% have access to improved sanitation • Housing shortage of 19 million dwellings; over 95% low-income households #GDILecture
  7. 7. Dimensions extend beyond the material • Above and below the railway line…. #GDILecture
  8. 8. Our research • ESID (Effective States and Inclusive Development) • Study of the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) with a civil society partnership, the Indian Alliance • Five cities (Indian Alliance active in two) • Research during 2013 through to 2015 • Methods included: – semi-structured interviewing, – project analysis, – focus groups, – document analysis, – formal workshops with government officials for feedback of results, – seminars with academics and consultants #GDILecture
  9. 9. Why the Indian Alliance? • Explore how significant civil society might be • Indian Alliance been working in Indian cities as a partnership from mid-80s – SPARC, NSDF and Mahila Milan • Earlier organising through the National Slum Dwellers Federation • Developed as a conscious alliance • NSDF - male-led “traditional” community organisations with experience in clientelist negotiations with political leaders • Mahila Milan – network of women’s savings cooperatives established in mid 1980s to give “voice” to disadvantaged group • SPARC – professional NGO established in 1984 to do things differently #GDILecture
  10. 10. Indian Alliance strategy • State is powerful and frequently hostile – need to create new strategies informed by joint thinking and new actions – For example, reaction to street evictions • Three primary modalities that emerge from their belief that previous efforts have failed as there has been an insufficient mass base AND poorly designed interventions 1. Finance – savings-based organizing 2. Data – e-numerations, mapping and profiles 3. Precedent urban development projects – eg. mezzanine level #GDILecture
  11. 11. Recognised need to engage, resist and re- define state urban development options • Efforts to position themselves as something similar to Evans (1996) and ideas of embedded autonomy • Coproduction as a critical social movement strategy (Mitlin 2008) • Invited and invented spaces (Cornwall 2002) • Aim is to build the critical mass required to amplify voice and change positions of political elite in favour of low-income and disadvantaged urban households #GDILecture
  12. 12. Critiques of their strategy and position • Co-option – argue that too weak to challenge the state and are merely legitimating positions that they do not agree with • Low-quality – engagement with construction has been a part of the activities • Civil society irrelevance – households engaging to advance their individual interests and not engaging strongly with efforts of NGOs to support collective endeavours. #GDILecture
  13. 13. What do we learn about the BSUP? • Housing solution is in poorly-constructed apartments, generally with relocation to the urban periphery with, in two cities, excessive costs being passed to beneficiary households and no consultation • Medium-rise apartments are difficult for some livelihoods that require good access and/or ground level storage. • Relocation to the periphery is problematic for households – Both because of the distance and because infrastructure not in place. • Construction quality is very poor in many cases – In part because accountabilities are weak. • Financial contributions are not affordable where cost escalations are passed onto households.In two cities, households ended up with high financial obligations and associated loan finance. #GDILecture
  14. 14. Case Study: BSUP Relocation and Rehabilitation, Warje
  15. 15. Focus on Pune • Pune - longstanding engagement of civil society and experience of co- production with the city • From Phase 1 (relocate) to Phase 2 (informal settlement upgrading) with NGOs as required contractors • Informal settlement upgrading national preferred policy option but not realised without civil society engagement • Slow…. But high levels of satisfaction • Affordability in place because of ongoing involvement of beneficiaries #GDILecture
  16. 16. Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP), India (Yerwada slum upgrading, Pune)
  17. 17. Focus on Bhubaneshwar • Support for three of the four settlements to incrementally upgrade • State government could not get their plans to begin because there were no contractors willing to take it on • Indian Alliance in long-term partnership with another NGO, UDRC, with activities to development shelter alternatives. Agreed to take on the contracts • Only in this context – state support for informal settlement upgrading • Civil society provided skills and finance • Commitment at state government level but progress slow • 8 August 2017 – Odisha grants land rights to slum dwellers #GDILecture
  18. 18. What the Indian Alliance brings • Designing approaches that enable solutions to be coproduced with the state and local citizens, legitimizing the inclusion of low-income households • Providing essential additional finance to realise potential approaches • Strengthening communication between levels of government reporting adverse outcomes and hence securing adjustments. Providing information about local outcomes to senior officials with an interest in the BSUP. The CEPT social audit report on performance in Bhopal had a similar effect. • Supplementing gaps in government technical capacity in a range of areas • Connecting the tenures of different government officials as they were moved on before completing innovations that had been started. #GDILecture
  19. 19. Why do they succeed in changing outcomes (and will it last)? • Vision: changing visions of urban development (informal settlement upgrading) and building support for inclusion of the urban poor in vision framing • Commitment: enabling commitment of state officials to be realised • Building essential capacities - both in the state and local communities • Capacity to dialogue across groups that have information the others need • Capacity to extend state’s territorial reach • Capacity to imagine and realise new approaches #GDILecture
  20. 20. What have we learned about the housing challenge? • Relations are key: building the capacity to communicate both around what is desired, consider what is available, agree options and agree how agreed options can be realised • Civil society alliances are needed both because of the need for multiple synchronised “deep” engagements with different levels of the state (within and cross-class) and complementary expertise between state and civil society • Housing options are formalizing. While informal options continue (strengthening in labour markets) this is less clearly a trend for housing developments. – Hence space for improvisation and encroachment is closing… • The issue is as much how subsidies are used as it is about whether they are available #GDILecture
  21. 21. Global Development Institute Lecture Series GDI Annual Lecture Economics of populism Prof Dani Rodrik Harvard University Thursday 26 October 5.00-6.30pm

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