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Plan and Slumdog Millionaire: improving India’s slums

Young girls living in a slum settlement of Mumbai, India.
Young girls living in a slum settlement of Mumbai, India.
March 14, 2011

With the support of the makers of Slumdog Millionaire, Plan is working to improve the lives of 5,000 children in the slums of Mumbai, India.


Slum children

India’s rate of growth has led to rapid urbanization with thousands moving to cities to find work and a better quality of life. However many end up living in crowded slums, earning a daily wage that is insufficient for their families’ needs.

Surviving in the severely overcrowded slums is a daily battle. The slums do not have basic facilities like safe water and sanitation. Water is available just once a day and the existing sanitation systems cannot cope with demand. Children are at particular risk as they are more vulnerable to diseases that are easily spread in these unsanitary conditions.

Education is another challenge; those who are lucky enough to attend school must often walk long distances to get there, and the schools are overcrowded. Most children simply do not go to school at all. A lot of them work to bring in extra money for their families. Children born in slums often don’t have their birth registered. Without this essential record they do not exist legally, and are denied their rights to healthcare, education and other community services.


Plan’s action

A new Plan project aims to improve the lives of 5,000 children in the Garib Nagar and Behrampada slums along the Eastern side of Bandra Railway Station in the heart of Mumbai. It is designed to address issues surrounding health, education, child protection and water and sanitation in an integrated way. Activities will be designed with participation from the children themselves and other community members, in order to find the most effective and appropriate solution. Action will be in direct response to the community’s specific needs and will include:

  • Supporting children into school by setting up pre-schools and primary and secondary education bridging programs;
  • Halting the spread of disease and improving health through effective hygiene, health and sanitation activities;
  • Protecting children from abuse by raising awareness of their rights;
  • Working with local authorities (such as police and healthcare workers) to improve understanding of, and services for, people living in slums. This should ensure improvements are long-term and sustainable.

The program aims to benefit 5,000 children. Up until now, most of them have been deprived of basic rights to nutrition, education, health, hygiene, and dignity. The program will improve education standards, healthcare and child protection as well as equipping children and adults with the skills to recognize and advocate for their own rights.

The team behind the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire has pledged to offer support to the project.

Learn more about Plan's work in India.