Society for Social Transformation and Environment Protection (sSTEP)

Project Theme

Urban Poverty

Target Group


Project Period

01 Jul 2015 - 30 Jun 2016

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Globalisation opens up new opportunities for the world and at the same time it also carries serious risk for the urban poor. Reduction in availability of public services post liberalization, unbalance distribution of resources, knowledge and land amongst the population have often exacerbated the situation. International Forum for Urban Poor, 1996 argues that the poor not only experience a lack of income and access to assets and basic services, but also a devalued social status, marginalisation of urban spaces and degrading living environment; limited access to justice, information, education, decision making power and citizenship. 

Guwahati in the state of Assam is one of the rapidly growing cities in India and the biggest in the north eastern part of India. Guwahati lies on the south bank of Brahamaputra at an altitude of 55 meters above sea level, with the latitude and longitude being 26010’45” (N) and 91045’ (E) respectively. The city's population is 2,602,465 (2011 census). 

Guwahati happens to be the destination of flocks of people from the rural areas into the urban in search of a livelihood and for some, a place to belong to – the pull factor.  Crisis in rural economy, natural disasters, soil erosions and social tensions in Assam and neighbouring states resulted into high migration to urban centres in search of livelihood – the push factors. This has evidently influenced the inflow into the city. But the city could hardly accommodate a decent employment for all those who have come in. The current polity and institutions are not geared to deal with the evolving and changed circumstances. 

Most of the poor in the city are homeless and live either in makeshift shelters in public spaces or are tenants of shacks in slums either in encroached government land or in private properties under the control of local mafia.  These settlements continually spring up on illegally encroached vacant government land low lying areas which used to serve as natural drainage system for the city. Settlements are mostly adjacent to railway tracks, on the banks of the rivers, unoccupied government land, pavements, the reserve forests on the hills spread across the city; and inevitably given the illegal status of the settlements, are overcrowded, and without clean water, sanitary systems, electricity, infrastructure of health and education, and other essential amenities provided by the government such as fair priced shops, facilities of communication and so on.

To address some of these issues associated with urban poverty and urban poor, Oxfam India has partnered with Society for Social Transformation and Environment Protection (sSTEP) to initiate a project in slum areas, especially in the poverty pockets of Guwahati. 


About the Project: 

The project aims at contributing to the enhancement of living and working environment of women street vendors and poor vulnerable urban population living in two designated slums of Guwahati city through promoting well informed community groups and improved access to the basic services (health, education, social services and safety net schemes).   

The project has proposed to intervene in three recognized slum areas of Guwahati, namely Bhaskar Nagar, Carbon Gate and Siva Nagar through addressing issues of water, sanitation, hygiene besides working towards increase access to basic services (health, education and food security related safety net schemes) for the urban poor. The project has also proposed to focus around women economic empowerment to address the issues of livelihood and violence being faced by the poor women street vendors, from scheduled tribe communities engaged in petty trades on the pathways of Guwahati, and women living in slums. The project is proposed for a period of 2 years and involves multi stakeholders for implementation. The implementation strategies includes: - direct provisioning of services, implementation through partnership and advocacy components to reduce the gaps between the urban service providers and service receivers. The learning and experiences from these interventions will help Oxfam India and its partners to develop future strategies to engage in urban poverty issues in a more meaningful ways.   


Results to be Achieved / Impact: 

The above project is expected to have the following impacts:

  1. Securing dignified and secured livelihoods for the women street vendors of Guwahati;
  2. Development of the existing capabilities of the women street vendors and of staff members of the Partner NGO;
  3. Development of leadership amongst the women street vendors as well as their association with other stakeholders;
  4. Improvement in the living conditions of women in slum areas through better facilities and services; and
  5. Reduction of gender based violence (against women) in slum areas


Outcomes: The project has so far achieved (Achievements 2014-15):

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

  • 3 (No.) Hand Pumps installed in Siva Nagar slum area covering approximately 84 households. Water user groups have formed for maintenance of hand pumps. 
  • 12 (No.) latrines cum bathing complexes have been constructed in Siva Nagar slum area, which has led to reduction in open defecation, especially among women slum dwellers. Latrine User Committee manages the maintenance of latrine and bathing complexes.
  • A temporary sanitation facility has also been supported for the women street vendors in the Ulubari market area. More than 50 women are currently using the facility at different days of the week. A Latrine User Group comprising of 5 women vendors is working well on the maintenance of the sanitation facility.
  • Drainage cleaning and cover support provided in both Siva Nagar and Bhaskar Nagar slum area. This has led to improvement in sanitation situation in both the areas. Communities have also been motivated to clean the drainage area regularly 
  • Increase in hand washing practices has been observed in both the slum areas; however this needs to be corroborated by a KAP (Knowledge Attitude Practice) survey. 
  • Linkages have been made to GMDA for application for 24 hour water supply boring pipes in Bhaskar Nagar slum area

Essential Services

  • Increase in enrolment rate and increase in retention rates among the children in both slum areas, due to the support provided at the Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyaan (SSA) Centres. 
  • With the provision of Public Distribution Card (PDS) card, there is an increase in food security; however this needs to be corroborated by a survey. 
  • Linkages have been made with health care hospitals for eye treatment for BPL card holders. 

Women Economic Leadership & Livelihood

  • A Union of 300 women street vendors has been formed and formally registered. This has led to an increase in cooperation, affinity and solidarity between women members to deal with monetary issues, threats and eviction by local police 
  • Application has been registered by the Union to the government for designated space for women vendors.