The city of Ahmedabad is building housing to address pollution and sanitation in riverside slums. “Provision of Safe and Secure Living Environment to Urban Poor, Ahmedabad” involves the construction of dwellings with all basic amenities for people currently dwelling in slums along the Sabarmati River. The improved housing will mitigate pollution and improve lives for thousands of families.
More than 12,000 dwelling units constructed for poor urban families
Untreated sewage from more than 8,000 families prevented from flowing into river
Almost 17,000 individual toilets planned for 2013/2014
The most convenient way for poor people to establish themselves in India’s city of Ahmedabad is for them to set up shanties either on the city’s riverfront or other water bodies, or on public land or public transport routes. The majority of people in waterside communities defecate in or near the water, resulting in serious pollution problems and health hazards. This has severely damaged the ecosystem of the river and other water bodies, which form a lifeline for Ahmedabad.
In addition, poor riverside communities are exposed to the constant risk of flooding, which can result in the loss of property, lives, and livelihoods. This serves to perpetuate a vicious circle of poverty. Evacuation of poor riverside communities during the monsoon season is expensive and laborious, both for the city government and for the communities themselves.
The city-run Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation plans to construct more than 20,000 homes for the city’s urban poor. Each 36.5 square meter unit includes drainage and sewage infrastructure, as well as streetlights and paved roads. The planning process included a survey of poor households on the riverfront, and worked with communities to identify suitable alternative locations within city limits and a 5-kilometer radius of former residences. Civil society organizations are involved in assisting with sustainability aspects of the project.
Helping the planet
Construction of toilets and sanitation systems prevents raw sewage from flowing into the river, improving the ecosystem. The new housing has greatly reduced water and ground pollution, boosting the health of the surrounding environment.
Families are reaping numerous benefits from a cleaner and safer urban environment. They don’t have to move every monsoon season, saving time and energy. They are no longer subjected to serious flooding that threatens life and property. People in the improved housing get sick less often, with children attending school at a higher rate and parents able to work longer hours. Relations between family members and neighbors are eased through proper sanitation systems. In all, the quality of life for people in this program has tremendously improved.
The housing model has the possibility of being expanded within Ahmedabad’s city of almost 6 million, or indeed in other high-density, waterfront slums in India. Various institutions and organizations have visited the development to learn about its best practices, which include monolithic construction technology, an integrated infrastructure package, and resident welfare associations for sustainability.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.