In May 2012 representatives of Shelter Associates visited Rajendra Nagar, a slum rehabilitation housing project in Dattawadi (Pune, Maharashtra, India) which was completed 13 years ago in September 1998.
Prior to moving into this residential building all of the families lived within Rajendra Nagar slum. The informal settlement was made up of single storey, structures made of impermanent materials. Due to the proximity of the slum to the Ambilodha canal the settlement was prone to flooding which damaged the houses and the residents’ possessions.
Shelter Associates (and another NGO) were the Architects of the rehabilitation project and worked with the community of the Rajendra Nagar slum to provide them with new houses, essential services, sanitation, and freedom from the threat of eviction on a site less than 2km from their slum. It was important to Shelter Associates that the community did not move so that they
The visit was conducted to enable Shelter Associates to talk with the residents about how living within this two-storey residential building had impacted the quality of their lives in relation to health, hygiene, safety, employment, education and matrimonial options.
The community takes more responsibility for the cleanliness of their environment now, this ensures that the public areas of the place are kept clean and there are no termites.
The community has divided the 12 toilets between the resident 50 families; each toilet has been locked and the keys have been distributed to the families. This means that within the community there are 12 sets of families, each of which uses 1 toilet. This strategy was devised and adopted by the community to ensure that toilets remain clean and well maintained.
All children, regardless of caste or religion, play in the central courtyard, which is a safe place for the children to play as it is constantly under supervision; its position at the centre of the plan ensures that it is over-looked by many residential units, both sets of stairs, and all communal toilets. This central play space has also helped to encourage a feeling of community spirit as no children are marginalized.
The children of the community are now all receiving education even the poorest children among the lowest castes.
The employment situation has improved as more members of the Rajendra Nagar community are now employed. They are all employed in the services sector as there are no ‘professional’ earners within the community; however, this characteristic is likely to change once the youth of the community, who are receiving better education opportunities than their seniors, find employment.
Marital options have improved for all families within Rajendra Nagar; this is because the average earnings have increased, all homes are clean and well kept, and all families have access to a clean working toilet.
It can be concluded from this visit that the rehabilitation scheme has had a positive impact on the quality of life of the Rajendra Nagar Community as all residents reported that, compared to the slum where they used to reside, their new homes are healthier, more hygienic, safer, and as a result, education, employment, and marriage options have all increased. The community of Rajendra Nagar no longer lives in a slum; they live in an apartment complex with their own house number and address.