Improving Urban Livability

Since 2003, Global Communities has been working with communities in India to find sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing urban issues. In partnership with John Deere Foundation, Global Communities’ Sammarudhhi (Holistic Development) Program is helping to improve the social and economic well-being of residents in the slum communities of Pune, Dewas, and Sirhind. The program focuses on making measurable improvements in community infrastructure development, agriculture productivity, educational quality and economic opportunity, and improving the employability of the communities' youth. To respond to the growing demand for skilled laborers, Global Communities has partnered with LabourNet to set up a training center and provide vocational training that will help job-seekers meet the labor-force demands. Working with local partner, MASHAL, women are taught how to form self-help groups where they learn how to run their own home-base businesses. Other opportunities for women include vocational training courses in beauty and hair care, tailoring, electrical work, and sales and retail. In terms of educational support, special teachers are assigned to schools to provide additional support in areas such as literacy for primary level students and test preparation for older students. Utilizing John Deere's expertise in agricultural development, the program is also helping rural communities to implement better agricultural practices to help farmers improve their yields and productivity.

With support from the Caterpillar Foundation, Global Communities’ Trash to Treasure program is helping the city of Bangalore establish a decentralized waste management and recycling system. Beginning in 2009, the program piloted seven recycling centers in Bangalore that recycle 45 tons of waste per month. These centers provide direct jobs for informal waste collectors, as well as provide new income opportunities in the collection of waste and for waste workers. The Trash to Treasure program took significant steps to support the rights, dignity, recognition, and security of the estimated 15,000 informal waste collectors in the city. The program helped the Bangalore government become the first city in India to issue identity cards to informal waste pickers that authorize their work in the city and highlight their contribution to the health and sanitation of their community. Over 7,000 individuals have received these cards thus far. The program also helped organize 2,500 waste collectors to form an association called Hasirudala (“green force”) to advocate for better working conditions and access to government services. At the conclusion of the program, the 7 established waste management centers received new low-cost equipment and tools that improved their occupational health and safety, and the centers are now providing waste management services to more than 7,000 households, in addition to the 4,500 slum households served.

Past Programs

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Communities implemented Slum Communities Achieving Livable Environments with Urban Partners (SCALE-UP) in India and Ghana from 2007-2011. In India, the program operated in the cities of cities of Pune, Bangalore and Nagpur, where up to half of residents live in rapidly expanding slums. Through SCALE-UP, Global Communities improved slum conditions and the livelihoods of slum residents by:

  • Working with local residents and organizing communities to redevelop slum housing
  • Assisting waste collectors with interventions like health screenings, hygiene education, vocational training, new safety equipment, improved working conditions and association membership
  • Training and organizing more than 5,000 community volunteers to perform slum neighborhood surveys and develop action plans to advocate for their neighborhoods
  • Producing comprehensive slum atlases to help local governments, NGOs and other social institutions identify the most pressing and prevalent issues in each slum and make plans to address them
  • Registering more than 36,000 informal workers through LabourNet to help connect them to job opportunities