polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Community-Driven Housing

by Katia Savchuk

Sheela Patel and Jockin Arputham — two of the world's most respected voices on housing and urban poverty — recently addressed audiences at University College London's Development Planning Unit (DPU). Patel and Arputham lead Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), a global network of community-based organizations of the urban poor. Patel is also the founding director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), and Arputham is president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation; together with Mahila Milan, a network of women's collectives, these groups have worked in an alliance to address urban poverty in India for 25 years.

In an interview with the DPU, Patel shared the latest on the redevelopment plan in Dharavi, Mumbai's vast central informal township. She also discussed the changing dynamics of urban poverty and social movements in India.

As part of DPU's Dialogues in Development Series, Arputham shared the inspiring story of how he became an organizer and grassroots leader more than 40 years ago. He also spoke about fighting evictions, SDI's Urban Poor Fund International and why reducing poverty requires working with the poor. Jockin was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 2000, and the President of India awarded him its highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri award, in 2010.

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