Ahmedabad Slum Electrification Program
Ahmedabad connects 200,000 households in slums to the public electricity grid.
In 2001, the city initiated a pilot project, connecting 800 households to the electricity grid within three years. One of the reasons behind was widespread electricity theft causing tremendous loss of revenues for the energy companies.
The city, two energy companies, NGOs and numerous neighbourhood committees worked hand in hand to extend safe electricity connections in the slums of Ahmedabad and help households convert to the new system.
Experiences made in the pilot phase have motivated them to expand the program. Since 2008, about 200.000 poor households in Ahmedabad’s slums benefit from reliable power services while loss of energy for the companies has been reduced at 30%.
Originally published by the International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development CONNECTIVE CITIES: http://www.connective-cities.net/en/connect/good-practices/ahmedabad-connects-200000-households-in-slums-to-the-grid/
Background and objectives
Ahmedabad is situated in West India. It is the fifth largest and one of the fastest growing cities on the sub-continent. 40 percent of its 5.6 million inhabitants live in slums and informal settlements, mostly without any public service provision.
The electrification project aimed at connecting poor households to the public electricity grid and at removing illegal power lines in streets and homes. Moreover, it was supposed to create a win-win situation: Tenure security for slum dwellers and payment of bills for energy companies.
In order to accomplish these objectives, the city collaborated with two energy companies and two NGOs. SEWA, a Women’s association, and the charity organization SAATH were responsible for information, education and participation of the 800 households included in the project. They established neighbourhood committees, which held community meetings and gave feedback about concerns and suggestions from the households. Moreover, they conducted a study on the households´ paying capacities in order to determine necessary subsidies; they explained risks of illegal electricity use and organized trainings on economical energy consumption.
Meanwhile, new power lines were installed, meters were mounted on the houses, each household received an energy-saving bulb and neighborhood committees were trained to collect the invoice amounts on a monthly base.
Financing and resources
The pilot project received financial support from the American development agency USAID.
SEWA bank helped households financing the connection charge of 35 US Dollar with micro-credits.
Results and impacts
All households who participated in the energy saving training benefitted from decreased monthly costs of approximately three to seven US Dollars. In order to accommodate the households’ financial situation, the companies changed their invoicing system from bimonthly to a monthly practice. Furthermore, invoice documents are now registered officially, enabling households to access other municipal support systems, as for example for gas connection.
Participation in the program also included a guaranteed and certified tenure status for ten years. The certificate is issued by the city and protects inhabitants from eviction during this period. It had been an essential precondition for the energy companies to get involved in the project.
From 2004 to 2008, about 200,000 poor households in Ahmedabad’s slums became connected to the grid.
Barriers and challenges
Initially, the project was looked at skeptically: Slum dwellers feared to be evicted, energy companies assumed the bills would not be paid while the city suspected the inhabitants to reject the project.
The two NGOs have managed to build confidence and trust between slum dwellers, city administration and private energy companies. It has been the corner stone for successful collaboration among the actors involved.
Lessons learned and transferability
The Federal State of Gujarat transferred the idea to other cities, where similar services are now being offered. Meanwhile, the program has also spread to Mumbai and even to cities on the African continent.
- Ahmedabad connects 200.000 households in slums to the grid, CONNECTIVE CITIES: http://www.connective-cities.net/en/connect/good-practices/ahmedabad-connects-200000-households-in-slums-to-the-grid/ (accessed 19 January 2016)