In 2020, the Nagari Short Film Competition focussed on the question:
“How could one tell the story of housing adequacy in urban India”?
India has the largest number of urban poor and landless people in the world. According to the 2011 census, approximately 13.75 million households, or approximately 65 – 70 million people, reside in urban slums. Homeless people, based on the 2011 census, are an additional 1.8 million. The numbers are staggering. In some cities, such as Mumbai, those residing in slums represent around 50% of its population. Housing, and more importantly adequate housing, is in a state of crisis in India – a case reinforced by the migrant exodus that we witnessed in Indian cities in March 2020, as a result of a national lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing adequacy was recognized as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in their report on ‘The Right to Adequate Housing’ have identified 7 elements that encompass the right to adequate housing.
- Legal security of tenure: Regardless of the type of tenure, all persons should possess a degree of security of tenure which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats;
- Affordability: Personal or household financial costs associated with housing should not threaten or compromise the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs (for example, food, education, access to health care);
- Habitability: Adequate housing should provide for elements such as adequate space, protection from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards, and disease vectors;
- Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure: Housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, means of food storage, refuse disposal, etc;
- Accessibility: Housing is not adequate if the specific needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not taken into account (such as the poor, people facing discrimination; persons with disabilities, victims of natural disasters);
- Location: Adequate housing must allow access to employment options, health-care services, schools, child-care centres and other social facilities and should not be built on polluted sites nor in immediate proximity to pollution sources;
- Cultural adequacy: Adequate housing should respect and take into account the expression of cultural identity and ways of life.
For further information:
Fact Sheet No. 21/Rev.1, The Right to Adequate Housing, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Human Rights to Adequate Housing and Land in India: Report to the United Nations Human Rights Council for India’s Third Universal Periodic Review