Vulnerability Assessment of Urban Marginalized Communities: A Pilot Study in Bhubaneswar Slum Areas, Odisha

Vulnerability Assessment of Urban Marginalized Communities: A Pilot Study in Bhubaneswar Slum Areas, Odisha

Smarajit Chakraborty
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/IJCESC.2016100103
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The study addresses an improved understanding on the vulnerability of the people living in urban slums and objects to helping in prioritisation of efforts and optimal utilisation of limited resources for better health outcome. The study was conducted in the city of “Bhubaneswar” the state capital of Odisha in India. Focused Group Discussions were conducted in 75 slums of the city followed by a detailed analysis of the data collected. The predominant vulnerability of people living in the slums under the study is water logging and unhygienic locality. This has direct impacts on the general health particularly of children who are prone to allergies resulting in colds, asthma etc. The study also revealed that no slum falling in the category of the most vulnerable while 24 slums falling in least vulnerable and rest of 51 slums are moderately vulnerable out of 75 slums assessed. The study has important implications for the planners, program managers and policy makers of urban health especially for better for the people living in urban slums
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In September, 2000, the United Nations Millennium Summit brought out a historic resolution signed by 189 world leaders to reduce hunger and poverty from the world by 2015. This resolution was based on specific goals called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Foremost among eight was “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”. India is also represented in this forum (United Nations, 2000).

One third of the world’s poor live in India. According to the international poverty indicator of US$1/day, the total number is 350 million, although the official statistics (1999-2000 place the number at 260 million or 26% of the total population. Around 22% populations in India live below poverty line (United Nations Development Programme, 2015).

Odisha is one of the least urbanized states in India. As per the urbanization trends of 2011 census, Odisha State is the 25th most urbanized and 4th least urbanized state in India with about 16.68 percent of urban population, which is only higher than Assam and Bihar among the major States. Amongst the districts in the state, the lowest degree of urbanization (having less than 5% urban population) is in the district of Baudh 4.65% and the highest degree of urbanization is in the district of Khurda 48.11%. 13 districts have urban population below 10% and 5 districts have urban population above 25%.

Though the urbanization trend in the state is low in comparison to the national average of 31.16 percent as per the 2011 census and the urban decadal growth of the state during the last decade (2001-2011) has also shown low growth rate of 26.80 percent compared to the national growth rate of 31.80 percent. It is noteworthy that the State’s population during the last decade has grown by about 13.97 percent while that of the urban population has grown at about 26.80 percent (Government of India, 2001; Government of India, 2011).

Prior to 1951, there were only 39 urban centers (cities) in Odisha, which has grown up to 223 in 2011. In other words, the urban population of the state has increased from 3% in 1941 to 16.68% in 2011. Among these urban centers, Government of Odisha has recognized 103 as Urban Local Bodies. These urban local bodies have been further sub divided into three categories such as Municipal Corporation, Municipalities and Notified Area Council. Presently, there are 4 Municipal Corporations, 36 Municipalities and 63 Notified Area Councils in Odisha. Apart from that, there are 116 non-statutory census towns in the state (Government of Odisha, 2015).

Odisha is one of the poorest states in India. It fulfils all indices of poverty. Poverty is a condition created by unjust society, denying people access to and control over the resources that they need to live a fulfilled life. Although it is the state of mineral resources and it spreads over 6000 sq km area, still about 42.83% of urban people are living Below Poverty Line (BPL) in the state (NFHS-III, 2005-2006) and around 23% of urban populations in the state live in the slums (census-2001) (International Institute for Population Sciences, 2009). The Economic Survey Report Odisha, 2008-09, highlighted that during 2004-05, 40.30% urban people were living below poverty line compared to national average of 21.70%. The same report also highlighted that urban poverty in the state is more (40.30%) compared to the rural one (39.80%) (Government of Odisha, 2009). Table 1 shows the poverty scenario in Odisha.

Table 1.
The poverty scenario in Odisha
YearOdisha (%)India (%)

Source: (Government of India, 2013; Government of Odisha, 2009)

The vulnerabilities of urban dwellers differ in significant ways from those of their rural counterparts. These distinct vulnerabilities are associated with number of factors like their dependence on a monetized economy, the prohibitive cost of food and basic services for poor people in cities, the huge range of environmental and health hazards, the pervasiveness of substandard housing and tenure insecurity, and the exposure of poor communities to crime and violence. There are also numerous social problems associated with living in the slums including illicit brews resulting in drunkenness, casual sex leading to sexual exploitation of women and girls, insecurity, child abuse and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS (Government of Odisha, 2015).

To make matters worse, levels of vulnerability are likely to heighten with the effects of climate change, especially since the urban poor often live in marginalized areas that are subject to flooding, water logging etc. The vulnerabilities of the urban poor are further aggravated by an inadequate policy, institutional and legislative framework including the lack of an appropriate land-use policy, an inappropriate housing legislative framework, and poor land management and administration approaches that are insensitive to the informal settlements.

Bhubaneswar is the capital of Odisha, popularly known as the “Temple City of India”. Being the seat of Tribhubaneswar or ‘Lord Lingaraj’, Bhubaneswar is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. It is one of the planned cities of India. It was designed by the German architect Otto Konigsberger in 1946. The new Bhubaneswar with its modern buildings and extensive infrastructure perfectly complements its historic surroundings. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation extends over an area of 135 sq. km., whereas the larger Master Plan Area extends over 233 sq. km. The Master Plan Area covers the area in and around the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the municipalities of Khurda and Jatni (Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, 2016). Some of the demographic profiles are depicted in Table 2.

Table 2.
Demographic profiles
Population8,37,737Census 2011
Male445,233Census 2011
Female392,504Census 2011
Sex Ratio882Census 2011
Child Sex Ratio (0-6 Yrs)902Census 2011
Literacy Rate93.15Census 2011
Density of Population (Person per 2011
Decadal Growth Rate of General Population29.27Census 2011
Wards67Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
Slum436Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
Notified slums116Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
Non-notified slums320Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
Average Household Size4.49Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
Area135 Sq Kms.Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation

The declared listed slums (in Table 5 in Appendix 1) are entitled to land rights and certain benefits, including infrastructure services like water and electricity toilets, street lighting, drains, storm water channels, and community bathrooms. Thus, slum dwellers covet declared slum status. Even if such a status does not bring in any real development, it provides a security form being evicted. However, the process of declaration is a lengthy and byzantine mechanism which can take years.

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