The book follows the story of Lin, an Australian who has been sentenced to nineteen years in prison for his involvement in a series of armed robberies. Upon his release, he flees to India where he starts a new life under the name of Shantaram. He quickly befriends Prabaker, a street-wise man who introduces him to the slums of Mumbai. Lin starts working at a leper colony and then sets up a free medical clinic in the slums. He also becomes involved in the local drug trade and is recruited by a crime boss to produce fake passports.
In a cluster randomised controlled trial in Mumbai slums, we will test the effects on the prevalence of violence against women and girls of community mobilisation through groups and individual volunteers. One in three women in India has survived physical or sexual violence, making it a major public health burden. Reviews recommend community mobilisation to address violence, but trial evidence is limited.
Maintaining a longitudinal dataset of household IDs requires substantially more data infrastructure and skills than simple cross-sectional uses of the coding system, and may not be worthwhile for advocacy, education, or research teams that operate on shorter time scales. This observation applies to, for example, education programs staffed by students, or researchers working on shorter grant cycles. In those slums in which household IDs are not maintained, the IDs may still facilitate follow-up for many months, which is often the duration of an intervention, educational campaign, or study.
Urban slums comprise one-sixth of the global population , but can be difficult to work in or study because lack of an address system limits follow-up with households over time. Household enumeration systems are needed in slum communities that comprise a substantial portion of the global population, particularly in high-density slums in which GPS units, satellite imagery, and other common enumeration tools do not work. We created an innovative Location-Based Household Coding System that facilitated several community-based research projects and door-to-door health interventions in a densely populated, non-notified slum in Mumbai, India. The coding system doubled as walking directions, which allowed rapid identification of individual in their households by a research team of youth from Mumbai, many of whom live in the slum community itself. For the cost of a few hours of training and one computer for data management, LBHCS allowed a household census and reliable household re-identification for over one year. Re-enumeration of all households was performed for a new study in just four days by ten people.
Although Kaula Bandar is geographically small, these methods should easily scale to slums with larger populations covering larger geographic areas. The simplicity of the coding system means rapid training for any sized research or outreach team, including teams composed of members who are young or who have limited technology skills. LBHCS is extremely effective for following the same households over weeks and months because the codes double as clear walking directions. These methods are particularly amenable to high-density slums in which new development occurs on the periphery of the community, and new dwellings are not frequently added between existing dwellings. LBHCS is an efficient, easy-to-learn, cost-effective, scalable approach to household enumeration and re-identification in densely populated settings.
Some years ago I spent a year working closely with and observing children in Nizamuddin Basti, an 800-year-old historic settlement in the heart of central New Delhi best known for its famous Sufi shrine, the Nizamuddin Dargah. This internationally renowned spiritual centre is also a prominent cultural and philanthropic institution for the community and the city. The Basti is now considered an urban village with a historic core and layers of slums on its periphery. A predominantly Muslim community, Nizamuddin Basti and its slums together comprise ten notional precincts. These precincts were first delineated by children who worked with the local NGO, the Hope Project, in a community mapping exercise; the ngo is using the map to develop strategies for the different precincts of the Basti, given the different profiles of their residents (long-term residents vs. new migrants, regional origin, language and customs, and professions).
The new toilet blocks were part of a larger improvement plan in the Basti that did not adequately consider children. For example, the Basti improvement plan ostensibly benefited children by creating two new landscaped parks. One of them was exclusively for women and children, although it opened its secure gates for only a few hours in the evenings. (Recently a local NGO negotiated access at least once a week outside of the evening hours for children who are part of their programmes.) The other new park replaced a large, central open space in the heart of the community, which was used for sorting scrap. As most residents in the peripheral slums of the Basti depend on this business for a livelihood, the unavailability of this space meant sorting scrap at home. As a result, the home environment is now extremely hazardous for children. These kinds of problems result when communities are not made partners in development, and solutions instead come from a myopic outside view.
Children from both communities routinely sought out open spaces in the local area outside their neighbourhoods. This points to the importance of integrating slums with the wider local area and securing access to open-space resources for slum children outside of the slum. The importance of community-level open spaces for children living in slums cannot be overemphasised. As there is little opportunity for innovation within the 12.5 m2of cramped private domestic space that Delhi slum dwellers are typically allocated, children in slums, including very small children, spend a large portion of their day outdoors. The cleanliness, safety and friendliness of the outdoor spaces in a slum thus play an important role in the health and well-being of children. Slum improvement plans will work better for children if we consider environmental improvements to the slum neighbourhood as a whole by involving children and by considering slums to be an integral part of the city.
India deals with slums only through poverty alleviation strategies. Since the 1980s, every Five Year Plan has included strategies targeting the environmental improvement of urban slums through provision of basic services including water supply, sanitation, night shelters and employment opportunities. But as urban slum growth is outpacing urban growth by a wide margin (UNDP, 2007), the living conditions of more than a 100 million urban slum dwellers in India remain vulnerable.
Background: Young children living in urban slums are at high risk for acute malnutrition and stunting. Many factors contribute towards it including living conditions, gender, delivery method, or access to nutrition. Malnutrition at a young age can cause morbidity and mortality, and impact further development and educational outcomes of children, and cause lifelong impairment. The aim of this study was to assess the nutritional status of young children in an urban slum in Mumbai and the factors affecting the health of children.
Conclusions: Poor nutritional status of children in the urban slums in Mumbai needs to be addressed by improving education and awareness amid parents and access to Anganwadi, Balwadi, and nutritional supplements. 2b1af7f3a8