Dimensions of vulnerability and responses: a case of Bangalore’s blue tent settlements

24 May 2016 - 10:15

Author: Tanvi V Deshpande
Photo credits: Kavya Michael, Shamala Kittane and Tanvi V Deshpande
Acknowledgements: Kavya Michael, Prathinga Poonacha, Ritwika Basu, and Shamala Kittane 
Supervisors: Amir Bazaz and Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar

People living in informal settlements are subject to a wide range of stressors. Some of the external factors marginalizing them include unequal access to resources and distribution of services and also their unsuitable environments.

Some issues encountered in these settlements:

There are no private or community toilets in these settlements meaning that open defecation and bathing are common. This brings with it many concerns around women’s safety and dignity.  

Responses to some of these issues:

Communities, either independently or with the help of NGOs, have set up solar panels to ensure basic access to electricity.

Innovative indoor stove ‘chulla’- uses air vents to reduce air pollution. 
Interestingly, outdoor stoves are sometimes beneficial as the smoke from burning dung cakes keeps away mosquitoes.

Settlement dwellers taking measures to channel household waste water through locally assembled pipes, along with a filter at the mouth to prevent solid waste from entering the piping system and clogging it. Some dwellers also dig pits to collect wastewater and often cover them to reduce infestation of flies.

We observed that dwellers in blue tent settlements are living lives that are highly vulnerable. Some local community/NGO-led interventions were observed but these are not sufficient to address the multiple dimensions of vulnerability to which the dwellers, particularly women and children, are exposed.