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Pilot Program to Address Housing Needs of Delhi Slum Families * * * * Partnership with Discipleship Centre Assists Urban Families Blessed with Land but Inadequate Shelter

July 4, 2005

DELHI, 4th July 2005: Habitat for Humanity and partner Discipleship Centre have launched a pilot program to repair and renovate houses with residents of a slum relocation colony in the Indian capital Delhi.

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Owning land is not enough: poverty prevents families making the most of their assets to build a decent home

The project is an example of how Habitat is expanding its mission into the heart of deprived urban areas within Asia’s sprawling cities.

Using Habitat’s “Save & Build” model, the families are being organized into savings groups to pool resources, which will be matched in order to fund materials and skilled labor.

The pilot project involves upgrades for 120 houses.

More than 15,000 families are settled in Madanpur Khadar in southeastern Delhi, according to Discipleship Center’s project proposal.

The colony was started five years ago when a government agency forcibly relocated families from Nehru Place, an affluent commercial area.

The families were given the opportunity to purchase plots of land. Plot sizes depended on how long families had had legal residence as determined by their ration cards. They could buy 12 sq. yds. (10 sq. m.) for Rps. 5,500 (approximately US$126.47) or 22 sq. yds. (18.4 sq. m.) for Rps. 7,500 (US$172.43).

“Unlike the families in squatter camps, these people own their land. We want to help them to make use of that asset so that they can have a good place to live,” said Barry Mackey, regional program manager for Habitat for Humanity India Trust.

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No privacy: seated on the floor of the one-room house he shares with his wife and two children, Raja is within reach of both the two-burner gas cooker and the one bed.

“Their earning capacity is very limited,” said Annie Joseph of the Discipleship Centre, referring to the families.

In the first group to be organized, there is a fruit vendor who sells from a cycle trolley, a junk collector and a bicycle repairman whose wife is a housemaid for four families. One member raises and sells chickens on his front porch and another is a cloth merchant. As enterprising and frugal as they are, the families seldom earn more than the equivalent of US$2 or $3 a day.

Relocation to Madanpur Khadar separated the residents from easy access to employment in the busy city. Now they must travel by bus or taxi to commercial areas or limit their trade to other low-income slum dwellers.

Living conditions in the colony are poor.

Purchasing land has left slum colony residents with few resources to build their houses. Some have no walls or permanent roofs; they string up tarpaulins to cover their few possessions. Even when there are brick walls, they may not be safe, nor may the roofs be properly supported.

Water is pumped from shallow wells and is not fit for drinking, though people often do. Drinking water has to be hauled from tankers. Houses don’t have toilets. The few public toilets cost two rupees for each use, out of the question for a family of six. Electrical poles and transformers recently arrived, but not the service.

“We have a foundation and walls, but we want to change our tin roof for a concrete one,” said Selma, a 27-year-old mother of four. “It is hard, but we are willing to make a savings.”

As the children get older, Selma hopes to be able to add another floor to the house so that they will have more privacy. The tie beam, pillars, concrete roof, railings and staircase are far beyond what she and her husband, a junk dealer, can afford.