Centre for Advocacy and Research has been working with urban poor across many cities since 2005. Its projects and programmes, though not too large in size have been ambitious, aiming at creating participatory structures for accountability, establishing grievance redress mechanisms, strengthening civil society mechanisms, enabling community advocates and partnering with urban local bodies in implementing key schemes. CFAR is currently working in 108 settlements across Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata.
Initially, CFAR’s intervention in these communities tried to address a wide range of concerns — from domestic violence to clogged community toilets. Creating gender resource centres and platforms such as the Mahila Pragati Manch in Delhi, organising health and awareness camps were all part of the effort. But by 2012 it re-aligned its efforts to focus on the priority areas– Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. The situation in these matters was dire. Hygiene consciousness among old and young was negligible. The slums hardly had any access to clean drinking water. Open defecation was common though community toilets were being built. No sooner were the CTCs built, they fell to disuse and became haunts for drug users and criminal elements. The woes in the slums were endless.