Urban Poverty – Reasons, Challenges and Solution

Urban Poverty – Reasons, Challenges and Solution

In the role of economic development of India, its cities have played a major role. Cities provide major hope and often  play the role of a magnet for India’s rural population as it attracts them to seek a better life. However, with increasing  development, population pressure on cities has increased. According to a survey by the UN State of the World  Population report in 2007, by 2030, 40.76% of India’s population is expected to reside in urban areas.

What is Urban Poverty?
• It is form of poverty that is particularly visible in megacities, characterized by poor living circumstances and  income, as well as a lack of essential utilities for a decent standard of life.
• For example, poor quality and overcrowded housing, lack of safe and readily available water supplies, lack  of access to government schools, risk of forceful eviction etc.

Reasons behind Urban Poverty:
• The urban poor is largely the overflow of the rural poor who migrate to urban areas in search of alternative  employment and livelihood.
• Most of the poor are not able to participate in the emerging employment opportunities in different sectors  of the urban economy as they do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to do so.
• A steep rise in the price of food grains and other essential goods further intensifies the hardship and  deprivation of lower-income groups in urban areas.
• Unemployment or underemployment and the casual and intermittent nature of work in urban areas lead to  indebtedness, that in turn, reinforces poverty.

Challenges  faced by  Urban Poor
Overcrowding 
Unaffordable  Healthcare
Risk of Forceful  Eviction
Water and  Sanitation  Issues
Expensive  Education

How can we alleviate the problems faced by Urban Poor?

Recognition of Settlements by Government
• Most relief funds and benefits do not reach slum dwellers, mainly because these settlements are not  officially recognized by the government.
• In addition, absence of proper social security measures for informal workers adds to menace of urban  poverty. Implementing a scheme on the lines of MGNREGA in urban areas can be a game changer in the long run to benefit urban slum population. 

Access to Basic amenities 
• Providing Basic amenities such as Clean Water, Sanitation and Electricity to the slum areas should be at priority.

Creating Basti-level women collectives 
• Complete coverage of deprived households in urban areas by SHGs should be attempted in a mission mode. This process should be accompanied by access to credit for diversification of livelihoods.
• Loans for street vendors under Svanidhi Scheme is a good step in that direction.
• Creating basti-level women’s collectives will address several difficult challenges.

Providing justice to workers in unorganized sector
• Workers engaged in the unorganised sector do not have the benefit of several laws such as the Minimum Wages Act or the Factories Act.
• Labour contractors very often disburse lower than the minimum wages. There is a need to enforce uniform minimum wages throughout the country's unorganised sector as well.

Migration Support Centres 
• The arrival process of migrants to cities in search of work has to be made less traumatic. For this Migration Support Centres can be established.
• The expansion of rental housing and property titles to settlers who fulfil the basic requirements will ease access to credit. Support for the destitute and the homeless must be made a priority. In the below graphic are some of the Government initiatives taken for improving Conditions of Urban Poor: 
PM-Awas Yojana Urban
Jal Jeevan Mission -Urban
Atal Mission for  Rejuvenation  and Urban  Transformation
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana
National Urban Livelihoods Mission 

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