20 Cities Slum Upgrading Project

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Focus Areas: Housing

This project, which began in 2011, involves slum upgrading in twenty (20) cities where the Alliance works.  These cities are in Odisha (Cuttack, Puri, Paradeep, Bangalore, Mysore), Karnataka (Maddur, Mandya, Chikmanga, Hubli), Gujarat (Baroda, Surat, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar) and Maharashtra (Bombay, Pune, Ahmadnagar, Nashik, Malegaon, Nanded, Bhubhan). Across these areas project activities include city profiling, site surveying, enumeration activities, infrastructure mapping (the drainage line, electricity and water connection), liaisons with government officials, understanding various tenancy issues as well as building typologies. 

Location: National, India


Surveys and enumerations have been conducted in all twenty (20) cities. Sanitation work is planned for Bangalore, Mysore, Chikmangalur, and Mandya and housing and sanitation in Pune, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Puri. Discussions are also underway between the Alliance and municipalities in Malegaon, Nasik and Ahmednagar to provide sanitation facilities to slums that do not have. It is planned that existing toilet blocks are to be repaired along with construction of demonstration community toilet blocks. 

Construction has begun in Ahmednagar with the municipality accepting responsibility for basic service provision to the poor. The Pune Mahila Milan is in the process of preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR). Preparation of a DPR is mandatory under all policies and until now have been prepared by consultants hired by municipalities. BSUP projects in Pune are ongoing.

  • In Pune, the Pune Mahila Milan has overseen the construction of four hundred and eighty-six (486) houses out of one thousand one hundred and seventy-eight (1178).
  • In Bhubaneswar, Orissa the Alliance has designed the in-situ housing and infrastructure upgrading in three (3) settlements. Work for this project began in October 2009. Of the two hundred and fifty-three (253) houses to be constructed, two hundred and thirty-one (231) houses have been completed. The BSUP project in this area falls under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
  • The Dharavi Redevelopment Plan for Sector 4 project has been active for the past four years. The project, which is led by Sheela Patel and Jockin Aruputham for the MMRDA, centred around the development of an alternative, inclusive plan by the community in a participatory manner. The project has a budget of Rs. 1,0700,000. It suggests a community-private partnership, where the community designs a project, the private sector executes construction and the community monitors and evaluates progress.
  • The Alliance is actively involved in the construction of community toilets in the cities where the Federations are active. So far, the Alliance has built seven hundred and ninety (790) toilet blocks with a total of fifteen thousand one hundred and three (15,103) seats that reach a population way over eight (8) lakhs. Majority of the construction took place in Mumbai under the Slum Sanitation Programme and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan in the metropolitan areas of Mumbai. Two hundred and seventy-five (275) and three hundred and one (301) toilet blocks were built under each of the programmes respectively.
  • The Alliance has taken up the huge task of evaluating the maintenance of community managed toilets in the slums of Mumbai. This project aims to evaluate how known and unknown factors contribute to the maintenance of toilet blocks; an obligation that is transferred to the communities. The Alliance also hopes to identify issues and areas of intervention, and work on a long term plan to improve capacities of the city in order to undertake monitoring of community managed maintenance.

A study by the Alliance of BSUP projects in eleven (11) cities was undertaken in 2012 to examine the way BSUP projects were planned and executed by municipalities. A specific objective of this study was to document the degree of community participation in all the various phases of the project implementation. The purpose of this study was to draw from evidence lessons for the next phase, which is the extension of JNNURM-BSUP for another two years, as well as to inform other urban poverty policies in the pipeline.

Community capacity:

This project demonstrates the capacity of the Alliance, and broadly speaking communities, to lead the development of their urban environments in an inclusive and sustainable manner. The adherence to Federation principles, even within the framework of programme guidelines, demonstrates the possibilities and effects of involving communities as active partners and not beneficiaries of development.

This project will form the foundation for the exponential growth of community-driven projects which, not only the Alliance, but other organizations will do. As a result the Alliance is now working to create systems of management that communities can utilise to manage larger projects. Simultaneously, the Alliance is working with the City, State and National Government to firstly, reformulate policies and practices to ensure inclusive procurement so communities and NGOs can also bid for projects and secondly, to sustain a learning culture in the next five (5) years.


The years of demonstration by the Alliance of potential of a bottom-up approach to sustainable development, has resulted in the Alliance being awarded several housing project contracts. The construction is undertaken up by the Alliance, only to demonstrate how community-led construction may also be undertaken. 


Project activity has demonstrated the benefits of community-led processes in contrast to all the other Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) projects where there is no community involvement. These kinds of projects set a precedent on the basis of which Government can develop policies that recognize the importance of community participation.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$300,000.00

Resources Leveraged:

The Federations have managed to leverage funds from different Government stakeholders – central, state, local government - and communities for both the sanitation and housing components of this project. The communities make a monthly contribution towards the maintenance of the toilet blocks post-construction. Land is provided by the Municipality and costs incurred for community mobilization, participation activities and initial capital for construction are borne by the Society for the Promotion of Area Resources (SPARC)/Nirman through bridge funding in the form of grants and loans, and revolving funds from Community-led Infrastructure Finance Facility (CLIFF) and other similar funds.

State Subsidy:

The State subsidy was in the form of land. 

Costs recovered from community:

None to date. 

Sheela Patel sparc@sparcindia.org (+91 22) 238 650 53 View Website
Project social media channels:

Project information updated: 18 March 2016

Project in depth

Detailed Information

This slum upgrading project, which started in 2011, stems from a need to build community capacity necessary for higher level engagement and negotiation processes.  Without the community capacity built through savings, enumerations, and exchanges, ownership over upgrading projects would not be possible. The Alliance of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC), Mahila Milan and National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) is working with the Government on this project. Project activity falls under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission’s (JNNURM) Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) programme. 


The objectives of this project are –

  • To incrementally upgrade slums in twenty cities in four regions of India.
  • To progressively get all cities to start reporting and on the basis of these reports, to develop benchmarks to demonstrate what needs to be done next and to increase the opportunities for and  community capacity to build and sustain relationships with municipal authorities. 

Community capacity:

The Alliance is looking at building database capabilities amongst Federation members so that data such as enumeration data and savings data can be hosted on more advanced systems, which allow for better data management, analysis, security and reporting. It has become clear that the Alliance strategy of community-driven enumeration will have to upgrade its technology to include geographic information systems (GIS) and other software tools in order to develop more strategic ways of identifying and addressing vulnerability and poverty within slums.

To this end, the Odisha Government has piloted global positioning system (GPS) mapping. The GPS data is then linked to GIS. This pilot project comes at a time when GIS is set to become increasingly important in terms of development in India. Under the Central Government urban development scheme, Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), GIS mapping is now seen as a uniform first step, in the process of creating redevelopment and rehabilitation plans for slums in cities. As we have begun to demonstrate, communities are capable of undertaking this type of technical process; moreover it is essential that they remain empowered in terms of helping to create data about their community and engage with redevelopment planning. As RAY is implemented, the need for scaling up the technical processes associated with GIS mapping, and using that technology to support current Federation processes is essential.

The act of saving is a big step towards introducing households to formal financial institutions and increasing financial literacy but also producing confidence within financial institutions and increasing their willingness to engage communities.


This project is being implemented in twenty (20) cities in India. These cities lie within four states. The intention is that the project can be replicated in all cities. 


The Alliance's experiences have built confidence in the partnerships between municipalities / government agencies and NGOs / CBOs. Since the Alliance is engaged at the highest level with the Government of India, with Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation experience in the field brings to light the innumerable difficulties and problems that are faced on the ground, and dialogues over these problems can potentially lead to policy changes.

In light of their field experiences, it is part of the Alliance's ongoing effort to convince the Government of India to spend more money on providing basic amenities like water and sanitation universally instead of benefitting a miniscule percentage of the urban poor by giving them formal housing. Policy discussions in this regard are ongoing.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$300,000.00. Of this amount, US$240,000.00 went towards capital expenses and the rest (US$60,000.00) was used for project linked technical assistance costs.

Resources Leveraged:

Under the JNNURM (BSUP) Government scheme, the estimated house cost is subsidized by funds from the Central, State and Local Governments. Each of these tiers of Government provide fifty percent (50%), thirty percent (30%) and ten percent (10%) respectively. The remaining ten percent (10%) is contributed by beneficiaries. Subsidy money from the Government is collected by the respective cities’ Municipal Corporation and released towards the cost of the house as construction work progresses. Costs incurred for community mobilization, participation activities and initial capital for construction are borne by SPARC/Nirman through bridge funding in the form of grants and loans as well as revolving funds from CLIFF.

The pilot projects to be undertaken in Ahmednagar, Nasik and Malegon are being funded by SELAVIP. These projects serve as pilot projects for the State, which inspired the municipality to fund similar projects themselves. The Municipality of Ahmednagar has already started construction of a toilet block. In Malegaon the newly elected local municipal representatives have taken up the work of meeting the toilet needs in most of the settlements the Federation is working in. These toilets are being constructed on municipal land.

State Subsidy:

The State subsidy was obtained through the JNNURM/BSUP programme. A subsidy, in the form of land, was also obtained from some Municipal authorities. 

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

Costs recovered from community:

Funds recovered in this project will be used to assist other city Federations with similar activity. As the housing is subsidised by the State, costs will be recovered from the Municipal Council and not the beneficiaries. In some cases it is possible that the State will also cover costs for surveys and project preparation. This means that UPFI funds used to cover those costs can be revolved. This is happening in the Cuttack settlement in Orissa where surveys are done by Federations and it is planned forhe  funds to be revolved when they come in. 

Anzorena, E. J. & Fernandez, F.L. (1993). Housing the Poor in the New Millennium. [Online]. Available: http://www.ired.org/modules/infodoc/cache/files/english/doc_e794.pdf
Government of India. (2009). Modified Guidelines for Submission on Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP). [Online]. Available: http://mhupa.gov.in/writereaddata/BSUP%20revised%20guidelines%202009.pdf
Lobo, M. & Mahila Milan. (2015). Improved Sanitation Improves Half a Million Lives in Pune, India. [Online]. Available: http://sdinet.org/2015/12/improved-sanitation-improves-half-a-million-lives-in-pune-india/
Patel, S. (2013). Upgrade, Rehouse or Resettle? An Assessment of the Indian Government's Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) Programme, Environment and Urbanisation. [Online]. Available: http://eau.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/02/28/0956247812473731.full.pdf+html
Sarkar, S., Moulik, S.G. & Sen, S. (2006). The Mumbai Slum Sanitation Programme: Partnering with Slum Communities for Sustainable Sanitation in a Megapolis. [Online]. Available: http://esa.un.org/iys/docs/san_lib_docs/WSP-Mumbai.pdf
SPARC. (2012). Status off Access to Sanitation to Urban Poor. [Online]. Available: http://sparccitywatch.blogspot.co.za/2012/09/status-of-access-to-sanitation-to-urban.html

Funding Information



Funding type:

Grant funding

Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC)

National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan

Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Rockefeller Foundation