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 (January 2019)
We have worked now in over 38 of the 144 wards in Kolkata.
In the last 12 months we have addressed over 50,000 dwellings and in the next 12 months we intend to address the final 170,000 dwellings. Our working methods are becoming more efficient as we work, and the cost per address decreases accordingly.
Because of our work, bank accounts, voting cards, Aardhar cards and electricity accounts are more accessible to the people addressed.
The post office now delivers to these people mail which has their new postal address on it (rather than it being delivered to a community hall).
We are a registered the private charitable trust company Addressing the Unaddressed (India) which has its own independent office in Kolkata.
We have 15 Indian local staff on the ground who organise bank account opening events and continue to address new dwellings and maintain the address database for dwellings already addressed.
They are supported by Indian and international volunteers.
All work and local staff are advised if required by our honorary manager Lingaraja Sahu.
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 the 90 or so wards (of the 144 there) so that Kolkata will be finished in 2019.
When that is done we will have provided unique postal addresses to some 1.4 million people in the slums of Kolkata.
Each dwelling will have a code similar to this above their door which is unique and can be used as their address alone.
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.
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]
We will provide associated training to anyone interested in doing work similar to ours or to organisations who can help achieve our vision.