Today on our show we have a real-life hero from the social sector who has been working to provide better living conditions to the urban poor for the last 27 years, Pratima Joshi, Co-founder and Executive Director of Shelter Associates, in conversation with our host Ashutosh Garg. Pratima is the recipient of many awards globally and she continues to win everyone’s hearts by doing what she does. From a very young age, Pratima has been involved in the development of society and giving back what she can. After studying architecture she came back to India and put all her efforts into her company, Shelter Associates that helps provide better housing facilities, sanitation, water, electricity to the urban poor. What was deemed inconceivable at that time, Pratima has made it possible without the help of any government but her own and her team’s hard work and determination to do some good in society. Pratima has been using technology before it was popular to map the poor people and then help them through their issues. She tells us about her inspiration from a young age to do something for the development of the poor. She tells us that she has been successful in building 22,000 toilets across her area of work where the risks of UTIs dropped effectively and health was overall improved. Pratima’s holistic approach to the betterment of these people has made all the difference in the last three decades. Tune in and get inspired!
Pratima Joshi, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Shelter Associates
Pratima has worked in the area of sustainable low-cost housing and sanitation for the urban poor for over 26 years. Using concepts like multi-stakeholder consultation, user-centered design and participative governance long before they were fashionable, her approach has evolved to include the following principles:
- Understanding the true situation before making plans—collect data and speak with all involved parties
- Designing spaces, whether building for the poor or toilets, must account for habits and ambitions of residents/users, rather than aiming for the lowest cost solution—this means engaging the final users rather than thrusting a well-meaning solution upon them
- Managing infrastructure is more important than building it—hence, accountability and management systems must be put in place from the start, not as after-thought
A recipient of Aga Khan scholarship, and an expert in ‘Building Design for Developing Countries’, through her Masters-in-Architecture from London based Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, Pratima who co-founded the NGO- Shelter Associates in 1994, has impacted over 3,70,000 people by providing safe sanitation through community and individual household sanitation. The data driven, community centric and cost sharing model, ‘One Home One Toilet’ (OHOT) has led to over 22000 household toilets being facilitated directly in slums of Maharashtra in the cities of Pune, Kolhapur, Thane, Navi-Mumbai, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Sangli and Panvel (updated December 2020). Their social housing efforts in the cities of Pune and Sangli-Miraj has impacted over 8400 people and they continue to engage in slum rehab projects in the city of Kolhapur.