Welcome to our project’s web platform. Here we will post information about the Identifying Best Practice for Empowerment through Entrepreneurial Freedom: A Project for the Marginalized in Informal Settlements in Delhi (Empower). Please explore the various pages to learn about the project, its funders, the research team, and the settlements we will work with to gather best practices around community solutions to overcome the absence of basic quality service (education and health) and infrastructure (sanitation, transportation, wastewater, and water) provisions.

ESRC Festival of Social Science

Professor Pauline Dixon was one of a distinguished panel at Durham University on the event “Improving Schools for Disadvantaged Children”. Along side Pauline was Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is well known for being Malala’s father. The event was Chaired by Professor Stephen Gorard with Professor Nadia Siddiqui also being one of the expert panelists. The event commenced with a summary of the key findings and implications from the British Academy study of early child education in India and Pakistan, on which Pauline was one of the Co-Investigators. Ziauddin Yousafzai provided the Keynote address and stayed at the event for the panel discussions.

Dr Kathleen Fincham India visit

Dr Fincham recently visited our three project areas in order to meet with women entrepreneurs. Her focus was to look at the association between empowerment and resilience and what it means to be a women entrepreneur in such circumstances. Being an entrepreneur provides women agency and dignity. Kathleen was interested in exploring how entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism is affected by the governance structures and institutions that are in place in the three different contrasting informal settlements.

Winners of the International Award for Best Practice

Congratulations to members of our team who were nominated and won in the Urban Infrastructure and Management category of the Dubai International Awards for Best Practices. Dr Renu Khosla and Pranav Singh collected the award in Dubai for their innovative, dynamic, tech-based interface URBGOV (Urban Governance). The tool facilitates interactions between communities and cities, collaborative decision-making, local solutions, and community-managed infrastructure to make cities inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient. URBGOV is envisaged as a tool to transform lives through data driven planning.

URBGOV was curated by Dr Khosla and colleagues through participatory processes, people’s wisdom, and deep insight of community and local planning limitations. It demystifies and simplifies technology especially for the poor, women and people with no/limited tech skills.

It combines free-source mapping capabilities; smart-web-based technology for data aggregation, convergence and digitalisation; and customised algorithms for multi-variate-spatial associations, synergistic service delivery flows, and automated decisions. A citizen’s App nudges participation and amplifies community voices, instilling empathy and accountability in the system. Gender differentiated data makes visible vulnerable groups, identifies service gaps to curate and scale up localised-equalizing-resilience building interventions such as community rainwater harvesting, decentralised wastewater management, simplified sewers, home toilets, protection of natural springs in informal settlements. City managers and elected representatives use its dedicated dashboard to optimise resources, services and access to sanitation and water. URBGOV impacts became visible in improved city rankings. URBGOV was piloted in East Delhi and scaled to 11 Indian cities. It is particularly valuable for small-budget towns that lack real time-reliable-spatial-digital data, community capabilities, democratic spaces and pathways for implementing co-created solutions. URBGOV is envisaged as a go-to platform for participatory and effective urban governance. It is intended to integrate URBGOV algorithms and features into information systems of Clean India and Water Missions.

Professor Pauline Dixon made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

Professor Pauline Dixon has received the coveted accolade for excellence in her field. Pauline, Professor of International Development and Education in Newcastle University’s School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, is one of 47 Spring Fellows announced by the Academy of Social Sciences today (Tuesday 1 March 2022). Newly elected Fellows are selected through an independent peer review which recognises their excellence and impact, including their wider contributions to social sciences for public benefit.

“I am very honoured to have been recognised to become a Fellow of the AcSS for my research over the last 22 years with marginalised communities in the Global South,” said Professor Dixon. “ I’m passionate about the research that I have been able to carry out with in-country partners, colleagues and the communities themselves to highlight the enablers to empowerment.”.

The Academy’s Fellowship comprises distinguished social scientists from academia and the public, private and third sectors. They are drawn from across the full spectrum of the social sciences. Through leadership, scholarship, applied research, policymaking, and practice, they have helped to deepen understanding of and address some of the toughest challenges facing our society and the world. Fellows are highly accomplished social scientists. Many are making exceptional contributions to tackling current and critical issues facing the UK economy, local communities and places, and beyond. They are drawn from varied backgrounds, disciplines and institutions from across the UK and internationally.

Will Hutton FAcSS, President of the Academy of Social Sciences, said: “The Academy of Social Sciences is delighted to welcome the Spring 2022 group of new Fellows to join our ranks – representing an excellent range of highly distinguished social scientists. We look forward to engaging with them in our work.”

Professor David Graham explains Sanitation’s Role in Reducing the Spread of AMR

Prof David Graham talks to Health Europa Quarterly about his work around the world that shows inadequate local sanitation plays a major role in the transmission and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This is especially relevant to informal communities where population densities are often high and sanitation infrastructure is limited, which are being examined within Empower. Such a combination results in food and water being contaminated by AMR bacteria and genes, increasing the probability of untreatable infectious in community dwellers. 

However, such knowledge is critical to improving the health and well-being of residents because Graham’s team also has developed approaches to identify “best buy” water and sanitation options to reduce AMR spread. These were recently highlighted as in the six recommended Actions in the WHO/FAO/OIE Report on WASH implementation as a strategy for reducing AMR prevalence in marginalised populations. 

Professor Dixon Luminary Award talk South Africa

Professor Pauline Dixon’s brilliant presentation to the media at the Free Market Foundation South Africa. Pauline is the only women to have been awarded the prize. You can watch here Pauline presenting the results of her research conducted in poor urban areas in Africa and Asia which shows how entrepreneurs from within these poor communities are providing low cost private schooling which outstrips government schooling both in quality of teaching and results. In many cases parents prefer to send their children to these paid schools rather than the “free” government schools close by because the education being offered is superior to government schools and the private school teachers are more accountable to them. What a great PI we have for this project!

Empower Project YouTube Channel

We would like to introduce you to the Empower Project YouTube Channel, just click here to visit and please remember to subscribe. So far we have a playlist around Women’s Empowerment, which includes short videos and the full seminar: The entrepreneurial woman in an uncertain world. This seminar was held today and includes real-world experience of three creative women who, in different ways and in different sectors, are walking an entrepreneurial road from whose footsteps other women can learn to develop and grow. The seminar was co-hosted by Professor Karen Ross, Co-PI for our Empowerment Project; the Women in Development Network (WiDeN), an initiative from Newcastle University (UK) Global Challenges Academy; and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Its content fits nicely with the objectives of the Empower Project.

The Azad Foundation has trained 2000+ women to become (mostly) self-employed chauffeurs and drivers. As well as developing driving skills over a number of weeks, they also learn about gender, power, and resilience. In 2019, we visited the Azad Foundation and talked to a group of women.

Savda-Ghevra is a resettlement colony in Delhi. With financial support from the Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE), a number of individuals and groups have set up micro-enterprises, providing goods and services to both other settlement residents but also selling goods in local