“livelihoods of the urban poor: case of varanasi city in uttar pradesh in india”

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  1. 1. Livelihoods of the urban poor: Case of Varanasi City in Uttar Pradesh in India Summary Report Arun Keshav 28 April 2015 arun.keshav@gmail.com
  2. 2. 1 Contents 1. Introduction...........................................................................................................................................2 2. Review of the Literature .......................................................................................................................4 3. Research Methodology .........................................................................................................................5 4. Key Findings and Discussions ..............................................................................................................6 4.1. Profile of Livelihood Activities the Urban Poor: ..........................................................6 4.2. Assets Possessed by the Urban Poor .......................................................................11 4.3. Vulnerability of the Urban Poor.............................................................................26 4.4. Livelihood Strategies of the Urban Poor Households...................................................31 5. Conclusion and Recommendations.....................................................................................................33 Bibliography ...............................................................................................................................................36 Tables Table 4.1.1 Sources of livelihoods for the urban poor in Varanasi City..................................................8 Table 4.3.1 Risk Terminology ...............................................................................................................27 Table 4.3.2 Shocks faced by the Urban Poor Households. ....................................................................28 Table 4.3.3 Exposure to systemic inefficiencies leading to increased vulnerability..............................28 Table 4.3.4 Impacts of risks not managed effectively............................................................................30 Figures Figure 4.1.1 Share of livelihood activities in each sub-category of unorganised workers........................9 Figure 4.1.2 Mix of wage worker, self-employed and home-worker in male and female workers..........10 Figure 4.2.2 : Visual Representation of Social Relations as an Asset .......................................................21 Boxes Box 4.2.1 High Achievement Motivation: Case of Ramashray...............................................................13 Box 4.2.2 Low Achievement Motivation: Case of Shardas husband- Lal Bahadur...............................14 Box 4.2.3 Addiction affecting returns on Human Capital: Case of Sarita Devi.......................................16 Box 4.2.4 Intra-Household Relations - Case of Binda Devi....................................................................17 Box 4.2.5 Commitment and sincerity of the female lead of household Case of Manju Devi...............19 Box 4.2.6 The Free Lunch: Case of Collateral-Security Free Loans from MFIs.....................................21
  3. 3. 2 1. Introduction Research motivation Poverty is something which is still rampant and can be seen, observed and felt easily around, in India. This made me ponder; on poverty, its attributes, and on lives of children, women and, men, who live in abject poverty; on present and future of our country, amidst poverty. How do they (poor) negotiate with this? What makes them so poor? Why poor continue to remain poor? What stops them coming out of poverty? What sustains them amidst scarcity and crisis? What do they do to earn their living? How do their family as a unit work? Can we do something to help families move out of poverty? If yes, what? How? And so on... Obviously, not simplest of the questions to answer! However when I got this opportunity to research on topic of my interest, I decided to explore further in to some of these aspects related to poor and poverty. Hence the topic Livelihoods of the urban poor: Case of Varanasi City was chosen for study. Research Questions This research aimed to answer following research questions: 1. What are the characteristics of livelihood activities undertaken by Urban Slum Dwelling (USD) poor households in Varanasi city? 2. What Assets (tangible and intangible) do these urban slum dwelling poor households possess and what are the characteristics of these assets? 3. What is the nature and sources of risks and shocks these households are vulnerable to? 4. Do households adopt any livelihood strategies to manage their assets to build upon their capacities? If yes then what? 5. What could be the possible levers, which when applied, could lead to increased capacities and reduced vulnerabilities of these households?
  4. 4. 3 The Concept of Livelihoods Before proceeding further, it is important to get a clear conception of the concept of livelihoods. Livelihoods are much more than mere income generation. Chambers and Conway (1992), defines livelihood as comprising of Capabilities, assets (stores, resources, claims and accesses)1 and activities required for means of living. They go on to add that a livelihood is sustainable which can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the next generation; and contribute net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels in the long and in the short term. Chambers and Conway explain capabilities from livelihoods perspective as being able to cope with stress2 and shocks3 , and being able to find make use of livelihood opportunities. Such capabilities as are not just reactive, they are also proactive and dynamically adaptable. Datta, Mahajan, & Thakur (2005) in BASIXs Resource Book for Livelihood Promotion note that that ideally: a livelihood should keep a person meaningfully occupied, in a sustainable manner, with dignity Ellis & Freeman (2005) explains: the term livelihood attempts to capture not just what people do in order to make a living, but the resources that provide them with the capability to build a satisfactory living, the risk factors that they must consider in managing their resources, and the institutional and policy context that either helps or hinders them in their pursuit of a viable or improving living. Desired livelihood outcomes like increase in income, increased well-being, improved food security etc. are achieved through livelihood strategy that the households undertake. Livelihood strategies are used to denote the range and combination of activities and choices that people make/undertake in order to achieve their livelihood goals (including productive activities, investment strategies, reproductive choices, etc.) (DFID, 1999). 1 Stores & Resources: These are tangible assets commanded by a household. Stores include food stocks, stores of value like gold, jewelry, woven textiles and cash savings in banks of thrift and credit schemes. Resources include land, water, trees, and livestock; and farm equipments, tools and domestic utensils. Claims & Accesses: These are intangible assets with the household. Claims are demands or appeals which can be made for material, moral or other practical support or access from individual or agencies. They are based on combinations of right, precedent, social convention, moral obligation and power. Access is opportunity in practice to use a resource, store or service (Chambers & Conway, 1992). 2 Stress: Stresses are pressures are pressures which are typically cumulative, predictable, variously continuous or cyclical such as seasonal shortages; rising populations, declining soil fertility, and air pollution (Chambers & Conway, 1992). 3 Shock: Shocks are impacts which are typically sudden, unpredictable, and traumatic, such as fires, floods, storms, epidemics, thefts, civil disorder, and wars (Chambers & Conway, 1992).
  5. 5. 4 2. Review of the Literature The review of the literature was centered on key terms like urban poverty, livelihoods, livelihoods of the, the Asset-Vulnerability of the poor, livelihood strategy of the poor households etc. The gaps as identified of literature review are as follows: Major focus related to mainstream poverty research has been on identification of poor and on measurement of poverty. Though identification and measurement are very important and is a prerequisite for poverty alleviation interventions, this is not an end in itself. It is important to look beyond these aspects to further understand the nature poverty. Such that we may come closer to making more effective programmes for poverty reduction. The major livelihood approach- the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) has mainly been studied in rural context and with the population trend shifting focus on further exploring on livelihoods and urban poverty is required afresh. The Asset-based approach limits itself more on asset aspects and undermines the risks and sources of risks. Not much research done related to urban poverty in context of 1-5 million population cities like Varanasi. Owing to this aforesaid gaps this research study was undertaken which aimed to explore further on assets that urban poor possess in cities like Varanasi, their vulnerability, sources of livelihoods, their livelihood strategy etc.
  6. 6. 5 3. Research Methodology The research tried to explore further into the lives and livelihoods of the urban poor. Research questions were framed in order to understand the livelihood activities, the assets possessed, the vulnerabilities, the livelihoods strategies of the urban poor and identify levers to alleviate urban poverty. Varanasi was chosen as the representative city for the study. In Varanasi city three major slums were selected for st

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