More than 900,000 people reside in M East ward, Mumbai, which is home to numerous slum clusters marked by abysmal basic amenities. Apnalaya works in 29 slum clusters of this ward that are situated in and around Shivaji Nagar.
Located adjacent to one of the world’s largest waste dumping sites and abattoirs, the area is an environmentally risky zone, prone to toxic flooding during monsoons and unhealthy air all year long. All the slum clusters have lacked basic civic amenities in terms of proper drainage, pipelines to distribute potable water, public health facilities, government secondary schools for middle level formal education and access to decent housing. With rag picking being one of the key occupations here, M East Ward has the lowest life expectancy rate at 39 years and is ranked the lowest of the performing wards in Mumbai (Mumbai Human Development Report, 2009).
With marginal or no access to basic amenities, people’s rights to minimum standards of living remain challenged on a daily basis. The fact that Apnalaya intervenes with its programmes on Health and Disability, Gender and Livelihood and Education and Citizenship tells us how various aspects of an individual’s life are interlinked and deprivation at one level automatically leads to different other forms of marginalisation. It is therefore befitting that Apnalaya approaches community issues through the lens of Integrated Community Development. This approach is underlined by an aim to create a community based management model where building capacities of volunteers will empower the communities from within.