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Empowering the community through self-knowledge

More often than not in India, urban poor settlements (also known as slums) do not find a place on the city map and its various planning documents. Slums are reflected as black blobs in the urban map, as if there are no houses and no one resides in them. Also, when a surveyor comes to map a locality for a specific government scheme, he is oblivious to the ground realties and excludes the community in the mapping process. This paper outlines the process of intervention that PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia) undertook as a pilot in Kettari Mohalla of Patna, Bihar, in which the community, who know their locality best, were organised to map their own settlement. Community members were trained in the use of GPS as a mapping tool and how to upload the data on to Google Earth. This intervention is part of a series of pilots PRIA is undertaking with slum communities under its project Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty.