Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Participatory Impact Assessment of the Calcutta Slum Improvement Project


Other authors: 
and others; edited by Carolyn Sleightholme

Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority

Focus country: 

Focus city: 

Published by: 
Urban Poverty Office, DFID

Publisher town: 
New Delhi


CALCUTTA, WITH A population of over 11 million, is one of the world’s largest cities, and roughly one-third of its population lives in "slums”. In 1991, the Calcutta Slum Improvement Project, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), set out to improve the quality of life for 250,000 people. Project components included the development of infrastructure, community development and primary health care programmes. In 1994, the project began moving towards participatory approaches.

This paper reports on an assessment of this project, commissioned by DFID’s Urban Poverty Office in India, in collaboration with the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority. The objectives were to understand residents’ perceptions of the project’s impact and to develop a replicable participatory methodology for monitoring and evaluation. The assessment used participatory rapid assessment (PRA) methods in 12 of the 185 communities involved in the project, and efforts were made to involve people from all backgrounds. It was found that male political party leaders, educated youth and higher-income groups were disproportionately represented. Women, children and the elderly did, however, participate more in lunchtime sessions.

After an executive summary, more detailed accounts are presented, describing the influence of the project on opportunities for women and children, on the environment and basic services, and on employment and livelihood. Each section has clear diagrams and tables. The analysis also includes community assessments of overall satisfaction, of the potential for maintenance and sustainability at the end of the project, and of the degree of equity and participation in the activities and benefits. The report also includes a description of how the study was designed and what were the lessons learnt on indicators and participatory monitoring approaches, along with a summary of recommendations for the various areas of activity undertaken by the project.

Available from: 
Available from Urban Poverty Office, DFID, B-2 Anand Niketan, New Delhi 110 021, India.

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