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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 “Cities are livable because slum dwellers are there, cleaning the garbage, cleaning the toilets, working as servants. Many middle class people can go to work because slum dwellers take care of their children. Instead of talking about slum-free cities, let’s talk about slum-friendly cities. The poor will work together to change the city.”

Sub-Issues: Financial Services; Living Conditions; Sanitation

More than a billion people live in slums, and are routinely excluded from the economies and political structures of the surrounding cities.

The Skoll Awardee: Often called the “grandfather” of the global slum dwellers movement, Jockin Arputham was educated by the slums, living on the streets for much of his childhood. After working as a carpenter in Mumbai, he became involved in organizing his community. In the 1970s, founded the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, and later, helped to found Slum Dwellers International (SDI) so that federations of slum and shack dwellers in more than 20 countries could 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.  SDI works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities — equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. At the time of the Award, it had programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people; and 20 agreements with national governments. It had helped nearly 130,000 families secure land rights.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2014:

  • 14 million people currently participating in 15,716 savings groups.
  • Number of settlements profiled is now 10,258, with 4,117 complete enumerations.




© 2015 Skoll Foundation.