Skoll Foundation


Slum Dwellers International (SDI)

Skoll Awardee(s): Jockin Arputham
Award Year: 2014
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Economic Opportunity, Environmental Sustainability, Health

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“Leading Slum Dwellers around the World to Improve Their Cities”

In 2008—for the first time in history—more people were living in urban than in rural areas. Today, more than one billion people live in slums. Founded by a collective of slum dwellers and concerned professionals headed by Jockin Arputham, a community organizer in India, Slum Dwellers International works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities. SDI organizes slum dwellers to take control of their futures; improve their living conditions; and gain recognition as equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. With programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people; 20 agreements with national governments; and nearly 130,000 families who have secured land rights, SDI has been a driving force for change for slum dwellers around the world.

Jockin Arputham is the president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, which he founded in the 1970s. Often referred to as the “grandfather” of the global slum dwellers movement, Jockin was educated by the slums, living on the streets for much of his childhood with no formal education. For more than 30 years, Jockin has worked in slums and shanty towns throughout India and around the world. After working as a carpenter in Mumbai, he became involved in organizing the community where he lived and worked. He helped found Slum Dwellers International to help federations of slum and shack dwellers in more than 20 countries support and learn from each other. Federations share information on how to organize; how to engage in participatory planning; how to ensure women’s involvement in community participation, savings and credit; and how to access water and sanitation.




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