Giving Compass’ Take:
• A new study from the Bridgespan Group identifies key community engagement models in India that offer lessons for effective COVID-19 response.
• How might a community engagement model that prioritizes participation work in the United States? What role can donors play in supporting or expanding these models?
• Read the Bridgespan report, here.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in India, the disease has disproportionately spread through the urban slums, where one in four urban Indians live. Indeed, by late June, 96 percent of Mumbai’s COVID-19 containment zones were in slums, home to more than 12 million people. Thus, controlling the spread of the disease in slums is critical to the nation’s pandemic response. And to do that, communities need to be actively engaged. The government—which is leading India’s COVID-19 efforts—acknowledges this in its policies, including the National Health Policy 2017 and the Disaster Management Act 2005.
In a new study from The Bridgespan Group, we explore how the pandemic response strategy has unfolded through different community engagement models in Mumbai’s major slums, where densely populated settlements suffer from poor living conditions, including inconsistent access to water and sanitation. Our research included nearly 50 interviews with community leaders, nonprofits, government officials, philanthropic organisations, and other experts involved in India’s pandemic response in slums, focusing on Dharavi, Govandi, Shivaji Nagar, Malvani, and the Kurla belt, as well as other non-notified slums in Mumbai such as Ambujwadi, Ambedkar Nagar, and Appa Pada.
Three community engagement models best describe how communities are participating in the response:
- Communities as recipients: In this model—which was the most common across slums as COVID-19 took hold in India—communities receive food, healthcare, and other essential services from the government and nonprofits.
- Communities as partners: Under this approach, community members actively participate with governments and nonprofits in prioritising their needs, developing solutions, and supporting implementation.
- Communities as owners: Here, communities identify their own needs, design and implement solutions largely independently, and seek external support only to cover gaps in local resources or expertise.
Read the full article about community engagement by Pritha Venkatachalam and Niloufer Memon at India Development Review.
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