Urban Migration and Social Exclusion: Study from Indore Slums and Informal Settlements

56 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2016 Last revised: 15 May 2016

See all articles by Siddharth Agarwal

Siddharth Agarwal

Urban Health Resource Centre; Dept. of International Health, JHBSPH

Date Written: March 31, 2016


India’s urban population is expected to grow from 377 million to 590 million by 2030. Much of this growth will be the result of migration from rural areas and small cities and towns. But despite the significance of migration to India’s urban future, migrants remain largely invisible, voiceless and powerless, especially in the larger cities. Without official recognition or support, urban migrants are increasingly living and working in extremely poor and precarious conditions in the informal sector. This working paper seeks to better understand the different forms of exclusion and deprivation experienced by migrants in Indore, the economic centre and largest city of Madhya Pradesh. Four different groups of migrants were targeted: two groups of recent migrants (those less than one year in the city and those over one but less than two); seasonal migrants temporarily in the city; and older migrants settled in the city. These reflect different stages and forms of the migration process and the associated exclusions and challenges that migrants and their families face in terms of access to housing, basic services, social benefits and entitlements, and government identification. The study collected quantitative and qualitative data using questionnaires, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Since migrants commonly live in informal settlements (bastis) throughout the city, members of women’s slum groups were trained by the Urban Health Resource Centre (UHRC) to help locate and purposively sample appropriate respondents for the survey. In total, 640 respondents were surveyed across the four migrant groups.

A number of common disparities faced by the migrant groups were identified: • Low levels of basic service provision (e.g. piped water connections, sanitation, drainage, etc.) and high reliance on private healthcare • 80 per cent of all migrants who had access to any type of toilet had to share it with other families/persons • Poor housing often made of temporary or semipermanent materials • High reliance on rental housing in the informal sector • Difficulties in claiming rights to basic services and social welfare schemes in the absence of government identification cards for Indore • Access to the government’s universal ID and proof of address for the city was lowest among seasonal migrants, with <1 year migrants having twice as better access than seasonal migrants, and 1-2 year migrants having twice as better access compared with <1 year migrants. Older settlers had 3.5 times better access to universal ID than 1-2 year migrants, 7 times better access than <1 year migrants and 15 times better access compared with seasonal migrants

Seasonal migrants experienced some of the most significant disparities: • 69 per cent lacked access to any sanitation facility and thus practiced open defecation • 68 per cent lived in temporary housing conditions or were squatting • 73 per cent lived in housing made from temporary materials • Many lacked washing facilities, forcing women to either bathe before dawn, or erect makeshift baths • Many lived and worked in brick kilns and construction sites, while others wandered the city as vendors and hawkers • 5 per cent had government ID cards and proof of address • 49 per cent were illiterate • 55 per cent registered their pregnancies

Older settlers faced fewer disparities than other migrant groups: • 51 per cent lived in housing made of permanent materials • 75 per cent government ID cards and proof of address • 79 per cent had bank accounts • 38 per cent of children had all three doses of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus toxoid (DPT) vaccine

The findings suggest that temporary and more recent urban migrants face immediate and significant challenges in accessing adequate housing and basic services, especially without the requisite identification for Indore. The findings also suggest that older migrants who have had more time to gain a foothold in the city have been able to gradually improve their situations. This suggests that policies and programmes targeting urban migrants must be sensitive to their different needs based on their unique circumstances.

Based on the findings, a set of recommendations for urban practice and policy have been devised to integrate the different needs of migrants into a more inclusive urbanisation agenda for India. These are: • Municipal authorities should identify clusters in the city where disadvantaged urban migrants are located, and plot them on the city map to direct planning outreach efforts and ensure they are not excluded from government programmes. Such efforts should spread information about local healthcare facilities and dispensaries, the importance of antenatal care, immunisation and general health-seeking behaviour. The potential to involve women’s slum groups in the identification of migrant pockets and slums should be leveraged. • Frontline health and social workers should be supported to reach migrants and their families who lack access to basic services and schemes, especially those supporting preventive healthcare, including vaccinations. Pregnant women and lactating mothers who do not receive benefits should be actively sought out, particularly those living in brick kilns and construction sites. Mobile facilities capable of reaching migrants in these and other hard-to-reach sites should be supported as well. • Associations of township and commercial complex developers and of brick kiln owners should provide temporary soak-pit toilets onsite for every 10–12 workers. • An accidental death and disability insurance scheme, which is supported by the Prime Minister, could potentially benefit migrants working at construction sites, brick kilns and other such places where risk of injury is high. These efforts need to be accompanied by outreach initiatives in migrant habitations/pockets and by building the capacity of volunteers from migrant groups and their employers/contractors. The importance of small savings should be promoted. • Government departments themselves or in partnership with civil society organisations should proactively seek the involvement of migrants in developing and/or implementing social benefit schemes. This must involve efforts to ensure migrants have the government identification cards required to access such schemes in cities.

The working paper concludes by drawing out the implications of the study for promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – in particular Goal 11: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”; Goal 10, which refers to reducing inequalities and legal status; target 3.7, which refers to improving health; and target 8.8, which calls on national governments to protect labour rights of migrant populations. While urbanisation presents a critical opportunity to achieve all major aspects of the SDGs, this depends on whether cities and urban authorities are inclusive of disadvantaged populations, not least migrants. The recommendations presented in this paper aim to ensure that migrants and their families are not only able to access the benefits presented by urbanisation, but also to participate in the design of policies and programmes they require to lead healthy and productive lives in cities.

Keywords: Urban Migrants, Recent Migrants, Seasonal Migrants, Access to Housing, Access to Entitlements, Healthcare Access, Children's Education

JEL Classification: A12, I0, I1, I2, I3, R2, O1, O2, P2, P3, Y10

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Siddharth, Urban Migration and Social Exclusion: Study from Indore Slums and Informal Settlements (March 31, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2771383 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2771383

Siddharth Agarwal (Contact Author)

Urban Health Resource Centre ( email )

136, Humayunpur, First Floor
Safdarjung Enclave
New Delhi, Delhi 110029
911126199771 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://uhrc.in/name-CmodsDownload.html

Dept. of International Health, JHBSPH ( email )

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Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

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