Patel, Sheela

Squatting on the global highway

Community to community exchanges, which enable poor people to plan, control and negotiate their own development strategies, are the focus of this paper, particularly in the context of squatters/slum dwellers. These exchanges, which spread to international exchanges amongst the urban poor, have birthed a people's movement of global proportions. The paper begins by summarising the urban context in which these organisations emerged, and the scale and nature of the development challenge they face.

Sharing experiences and changing lives

This paper discusses community exchange programmes as a powerful mechanism for increasing the capacity of community organisations to participate in urban development. By enabling communities to share and explore local knowledge created through livelihood struggles, a powerful process is triggered, whereby community exchanges transform development. Through a cumulative process of learning, sharing and collective action, strong sustained and mobilised networks of communities emerge.

Tools and methods for empowerment developed by slum and pavement dwellers' federations in India

This article, as part of the special 50th edition of PLA Notes, looks at specific tools and methods used by an alliance of three organisations in India that are engaged in initiatives to reduce urban poverty. The organisations are the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF), Mahila Milan (savings cooperatives formed by women slum and pavement dwellers) and the Indian NGO SPARC.

Community toilets in Pune and other Indian cities

This article reviews a project in Pune, India, where 400 community toilet blocks have been built through a partnership between municipal government, NGOs and community-based organisations. In 1999, the Municipal commissioner sought to greatly increase the scale of public toilet construction and to ensure that toilets more appropriate than those previously constructed by the municipality got built, by inviting local NGOs to make bids for toilet construction and maintenance.

From the slums of Bombay to the housing estates of Britain

This is a report of a visit in August - September 1996 by Sheela Patel to look at tenant participation on housing estates in Britain. Sheela is the Director of SPARC, an NGO working in slum communities, pavement dwellers and other informal settlements in Mumbai, India. The visit aimed to share ideas, offer learning opportunities from the highly developed NGO sector in India and to challenge the conventional notions that the North knows best.. The visit was organised by the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action with support from the Oxfam-UK Anti-Poverty Programme.

Learning from experience: the transformation of participatory urban development through community to community exchange

A detailed plan to articulate and disseminate experiences in community exchange programmes between low-income urban communities in Asia and Africa. The report highlights the value of community participation and community exchanges in the light of growing urbanization and decentralization of services. The objective of these exchange programmes has been to transform a process of urban development by enabling the poor themselves to be directly involved in planning and negotiating local development strategies that make sense to them and which fit within their existing livelihood struggles.