Founder Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), India

SPARC is one of the larger NGOs in India focused on facilitating the creation of voice of the urban poor in the development of the city. For the past 30 years, the Alliance of SPARC and its two community based social movements, National Slum Dwellers' federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan has made a profound difference to thousands of households living under the threat of evictions/demolitions by providing them with the tools they need to engage the state and the city to secure permanent housing. The Alliance also works on sanitation and has provided hundreds of thousands of individuals with individual or community toilets in several states of India and supports communities to explore a wide range of solutions which will improve the quality of their lives. The key to this success is working with women's collectives in communities and empowering them to make a difference. We began in 1984, with an Area Resource Center in Byculla, Mumbai where women from the pavements settlements came together to discuss their problems and find solutions. They formed Mahila Milan and along with NSDF they launched a self developed census of themselves to collect data from the people living in temporary or permanent slums which we call enumerations by the poor themselves.

Founded by Sheela Patel in 1984, SPARC advocates for the legitimization of slum-dweller communities throughout India.  SPARC began their work fighting against evictions, but now extensively lobbies for physical, social and legal improvements on behalf of India’s estimated 65 million slum dwellers.  In their work, SPARC confronts the most urgent urban issues facing humanity: the rise of the informal city.


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