Towards a Clean India

Shelter Associates, India

Shreya Mehta

Shreya Mehta on June 18, 2018 in Environment

India has been regarded in the top 10 positions for many good and bad reasons-this time however, for being the largest open defecating nation in the world. Due to lack of funds, resources and space, over 500 million in our country have no access to toilets and this has in turn initiated various health and safety issues.

Nevertheless, in recent times, many organizations have come ahead to help the urban poor and facilitate their living standards. One such organization is Shelter Associates which works under the guidance of Pratima Joshi, one of the founders and the Executive Director.

Under her guidance, Shelter Associates has been working to provide technical support to the urban poor of Mumbai. Their goal is to support community-managed slum rehabilitation by providing essential services like toilets and other water and hygiene facilities.

With its range in Thane, Mumbai, Sangli, Pune and Kolhapur, it has reached out to more than 74,000 people today and brought a very positive transformation in their life. The organization specializes primarily in ‘Sanitation’, ‘Housing and Research’ and ‘Poverty Mapping’ facilities and has come to play a very important role in the slum rehabilitation efforts carried out in Mumbai.

They have already helped in constructing 5000 individual toilets across four cities in Maharashtra namely Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli-Miraj and Pimpri-Chinchwad with the moto “One Home-One Toilet” and many more are underway.

In October 2005 keeping the efforts and continues struggles of the organisation in their purview, BBC proclaimed Joshi as one of the ‘leading slum architects of India’. She has been awarded with Aga Khan scholar, Ashoka fellow and is also a very prominent name in the newspapers and periodicals.

Since 1993, Shelter Associates has been working with the goal to improve the lives of the urban poor in Mumbai. It also conducts workshops and awareness programs to inform people about various issues that arise out of poor sanitation and hygiene.

All the efforts to facilitate the construction of various toilets and waste collection systems are made with the support from various government and private organizations. One of the most innovative aspects of the Shelter’s work is the research that it does.

On the 4th of May 2018, Shelter Associates was given special mention and recognition in the Non-profit category at the recent ISC-FICCI awards held at Delhi.  It was given to the organisation for the innovative use of spatial data that is used to augment household sanitation.

The goal of research on poverty mapping is to generate geospatial data that can assist in monitoring and evaluating the current situation of the dwellings of the urban poor. They also participate is collaborating on various community projects.

In 2001, two Community Toilet Projects were undertaken in Pune and Sangli-Miraj with the support of their respective corporations. These community toilets have a caretaker and accommodation for the caretaker is also made available near the complex.

Along with this, biogas systems were also constructed. These biogas systems convert the gases generated from the excreta into fuel source for the caretaker, whose cooking needs are thus taken care. These community toilets have been a boon for many and now women and girls feel most satisfied and secure.

In a case study carried out by Shelter Associates, since the start of the project in Rajiv Gandhi Nagar Slum, GIS maps have indicated to improvements and the prevalence of open defecation “has fallen dramatically with nearly 95% open defecation free”.

Based on the data that was recently collected by the organisation, in a few years alone they have contributed to a “total of 60% decrease in open defecation and given households the opportunity to live in improved sanitation conditions”.

An inspiration to many, Shelter Associates has come to lead the way for all those whose goal is to work towards facilitating access to and improving housing and essential services for the poor.

To read more about the inspirational work they are doing, visit Shelter Associates today!

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