Assisting Urban Communities

Global Communities has been working with slum communities to address pressing urban issues in India since 2003. With support from the Caterpillar Foundation, Global Communities’ Trash to Treasure program has been 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 new income opportunities up-stream and down-stream in the collection and processing of waste. We are now supporting the Bangalore government to replicate these recycling centers in each of the city’s 198 wards, starting with 40 wards. The Trash to Treasure program also takes 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. Over 7,000 individuals have received these cards thus far. The program also helped organize 2,500 waste collectors into an association called Hasirudala (“green force”) to advocate for better working conditions and access to government services.

With funding from the John Deere Foundation, the Global Communities’ Samruddhi program is helping to improve the living conditions and livelihoods of slum residents. The program focuses on making deep impacts in 6 slums and 4 villages while strengthening bottom-up planning practices and institutionalizing new poverty reduction programs within the local government.The communities in this peri-urban landscape, where almost 300 factories are now located, are experiencing a dramatic increase in manufacturing and industrial activity. To meet the increased demand for skilled workers, Global Communities has partnered with LabourNet to set up a training center and provide vocational training.Other focus areas of the Samruddhi program include improving education for primary and secondary students, vocational training for youth, agricultural development in rural areas, small-scale infrastructure upgrading and the empowerment of women. 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. With 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 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