In the beginning
In March 2012 we began testing in a small slum of Kolkata in collaboration with The Hope Foundation and The Hope Kolkata Foundation being its implementation agency to carry out the exercise in the field.
Now (August 2023)
We have worked now in most of the 144 wards in Kolkata.
By end 2019 we had addressed nearly 170,000 dwellings in underserved areas of Kolkata. This worked ceased and could not take place for health and safety reasons due to COVID in 2020 and 2021.
Now that Children In Need India is involved the work continues at the rate of over 1,000 per week.
Their working methods are becoming more efficient as they work, and the cost per address decreases accordingly.
The addresses then can be incorporated into the work that CINI and other NGOs are carrying out in Kolkata, helping field workers more efficiently organise their work and access their service users
Because of this addressing work, bank accounts, voting cards, Aardhar cards and electricity accounts are more accessible to the people addressed.
The post office can deliver to these people mail which has their new postal address on it (rather than it being delivered to a community hall).
And those who have received as address have told us that because of their address they can more easily access services and identify to others where their home is located.
What is next
We continue to make sure that all dwellers have the opportunity to access to a bank and to apply for social benefits.
We have a clear plan as to how to compete all of the 144 there so that Kolkata will be finished by mid 2024.
When that is done we will have provided unique postal addresses to some 1.4 million people in the slums of Kolkata.
What the future holds
Our work will not finish anytime soon. Within 35 years, 70% of the world's population will be living in urban areas, with as many as 1 in 2 living in unplanned settlements!
It is our prediction that governments and the authorities will have only two options
Move the people in unplanned settlements to the outskirts of the urban areas.
Or leave them where they are.
The authorities will struggle to find funding for the former. Thus leaving the latter as a more attractive option. This however will only work, should the dwellers themselves be empowered to take care of their own lives and be given opportunities to improve their quality of life. We believe a unique (postal) address will deliver such opportunities.
We welcome approaches from posts, local and central governments and other NGOs (particularly members of Slum Dwellers International) to be informed and helped to address other areas.
Each dwelling will have a code similar to this above their door which is unique and can be used as their address alone.
Since June 2018 we have used Google's Plus Code to uniquely address the slum dwellings.
This code is open source (and available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Location_Code).
This technology and the apps we have built around it will be available from this website once Kolkata is finished. We will also be sharing on our website all our processes and manuals at that time.
[Note: We previously used our own technology i.e. GO Code]
Training can be provided to anyone interested in doing work similar to ours or to organisations who can help achieve our vision.