6.The Liveable Life in Slums
Neele Eicker (Hafen City University of Hamburg, Germany)
More than 1 billion people of the world’s urban population lives in slums. (1) One in eight people. The locus of global poverty moves to cities, with the majority in the developing world. Low incomes, poor infrastructure and rising exclusion are just minor stimulators that contribute to a poor quality of life. Long since nations, governments and local administrations recognized the need for higher living standards for each and every citizen. The focus on creating worldwide sustainable livelihoods peaked in 2015, with the international acceptance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), followed by the New Urban Agenda (NUA) in 2016. Liveable areas became a priority, and the concept of liveability evoked a new sense for sustainable improvements of human life. Still, liveability remains a complex concept that includes a variety of elements and can be measured through a set of sub-dimensions (2) and encompasses objective indicators (3), as well as subjective indicators. (4) Problematic is the fact that in most cases liveability indicators are measured and quantified for whole regions, rather than individual neighborhoods, “you can live in a city that ranks high in terms of quality of living and still suffer from a low quality of life because of unfortunate personal circumstances […]” (5) The extent of disparity in perceptions of a liveable life is mostly limited to formal settlements, whereas in countries, as India a large proportion of the population lives in informal settlements. Transferring liveable life perceptions to the guidance of slum upgrading, mainly emphasizes the interplay between top-down and bottom-up approaches. Lack of studies for informal settlements often lead to the assumption that upgrading tasks, such as house improvements, basic service provision or access to water automatically lead to improved local living conditions; but a lack of local comprehension, along with upgrading assumptions are deeply intertwined; this paper argues, so are their solutions. Lining the trend of raising global liveability to the papers’ informal settlement context, the liveable life at the urban slum level is investigated. Liveability is mainly calculated to take a quantitative approach, rarely differentiating between social classes or focusing on individual perceptions. (6) The concept of a liveable life goes one step further and focuses mainly on perceptions at a defined community level. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of identified liveable life indicators within the framework of a fieldwork study in slums of Bhubaneswar (Odisha, India). The identification of indicators aims to act as a lever within participative slum upgrading. It hypothesizes that community perceptions of a liveable life are the most influential indicators, and they perform weakest in slum upgrading. The area of research is Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state Odisha and center of pilot projects of “Odisha’s Liveable Habitat Mission”. The method developed includes Focus Group Discussions in slums of Bhubaneswar to identify liveable life indicators.