Transforming vulnerable communities in large Indian cities into equitable living environments for a brighter future
While rural poverty has received significant attention in India, the struggles of people living in urban poverty have often been overlooked.
As mega-cities in India grow larger, so do their slum populations. In Gujarat, one of India's fastest urbanising states, the population of Ahmedabad is expected to reach 12 million by 2026. Nearly 40 per cent of Ahmedabad's population resides in slums, lacking access to basic services. These communities are often divided along ethnic lines, exacerbating existing conflicts.
Saath (which in Hindi/Gujarati means 'together, co-operation, a collective or support') recognised the urgency of addressing these challenges, is working to create equitable living environments for vulnerable communities in the slums of large Indian cities. Though an integrated approach, it aims to make communities a place where all residents and vulnerable people can access health, education, essential infrastructure services and livelihood opportunities — irrespective of their economic and social status.
The organisation achieves this by forging public, private, and citizen sector partnerships rooted in market-based solutions to address the pressing challenges the urban poor face. With a focus on Gujarat and Rajasthan states, Saath provides essential services, advocates for change, and facilitates opportunities to uplift individuals and families.
Saath created a new model for collaboration with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and textile giant Arvind Mills. This tripartite partnership was the catalyst for Saath's working model, harnessing the legitimacy of government bureaucracy, the efficiency of corporate involvement, and the active participation of citizens.
Building on the model's success, Saath has expanded its efforts to address various critical areas. It electrified slum households by demonstrating that people experiencing poverty were willing to pay affordable prices. It also focuses on health, nutrition, education, and women's employment, employing empathetic peer-to-peer models to engage sensitive slum areas. Their job and skills training program, Umeed, has seen remarkable success, with 90 per cent of participants securing employment opportunities.
By partnering with citizen organisations, Saath is transforming lives, uplifting communities, and creating a brighter future for vulnerable urban communities in India.
Saath's emphasis on collaboration, empowerment, and innovative solutions has garnered interest from cities like Pune, Nagpur, Jaipur, and Hyderabad, seeking to replicate Saath's transformative model. Through its participation in Dela, we look forward to supporting Saath in creating further strategies for growth to scale its impact.