This month, a slum vulnerability assessment was conducted as a part of the Project- Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP). Keystone has been working on this Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) project since December 2015 along with three other organisations (IIHS, Gramalaya, CDD) that were commissioned to implement the programme via Technical Support Unit (TSU) within the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department (MAWS). The TSU’s help the State Govt. and cities in making improvements along the entire urban sanitation chain in their planning, implementation, and monitoring process.

The study area for TNUSSP project in Coimbatore district constitutes of two town panchayats – Periyanaickenpalayam and Narasimhanaickenpalayam, situated 17 km north of Coimbatore city. The assessment was carried out in 11 slums across the towns. The population size of the town panchayats studied in Coimbatore ranges between 8,600 and 26,000 with an average household size of 4, which is equal to the State average. Poor hygiene due to lack of adequate sanitation facilities is prevalent in the towns.

This lack of sanitation has far-reaching effects: it imposes significant public health and environmental costs on urban areas. Despite challenges faced in other basic necessities like electricity, roads and safe housing, the lack of access to adequate water and sanitation and unhygienic living conditions besides poor levels of government intervention remain the major concerns. This leads to a range of diseases like under-nutrition, physical weakness etc.

The objective of the assessment is to identify the most vulnerable slums in these two town panchayats. This assessment would help in prioritizing efforts and in optimal use of available limited resources. The approach adopted for this assessment is by collecting slum level primary data. This was done through participatory observations of the slum and by conducting a group discussion with the community members that gave us a better insight. There were certain identified parameters on which the assessment was being carried out, such as, the location of the slum and its surroundings, condition of road that leads to the slum, type of housing and its drainage system. This has been done on the basis of observation. Apart from this, there are several other factors that played a crucial role in assessing the vulnerability of the slums; like source of water, type of toilet facility, literacy status, child labour, service coverage. This is obtained through group discussion with the community.

With the collected data that were collected, each of those indicators will be scored on a scale of 0-2. Based on the cumulative score the slums will be categorized into three categories namely, least vulnerable, moderately vulnerable and most vulnerable. The end result will provide us information that shall help us recognize the most vulnerable slums that requires attention and immediate action. Further intervention is being planned in the coming months that shall enhance and speed up the implementation process.