Way Forward Chennai

Advocacy effort for inclusive and credible responses to urban disasters.

In the last few years, several cities in India have experienced major disasters following heavy rains and droughts that have caused enormous damage and loss of life as well as paralyzed cities’ economies. Climate change and global warming coupled with poor city planning, governance failure, inadequate disaster preparedness and management, illegal construction, and the destruction of the natural ecosystem in the form of waterways, streams, rivers, mangroves, marshland, etc. have amplified the impacts of these disasters. When Chennai was hit by flooding in 2015, more than 650 people died and 25,000 crores worth of business were lost. The reasons behind the deluge were debated; not one could agree on the reasons behind it. 

Way Forward Chennai (WFC) was created as a platform focused on bringing together individual practitioners and organizations to develop a strong understanding of the urban floods and droughts and to advocate for inclusive and credible responses to urban disasters. It was a multi-partner; multi dimensional and multi stage inter institutional /organizational voluntary citizen initiative to work on the phenomenon in order to develop an understanding in the areas of –
1) City planning and development
2) Disaster preparedness and management
3) Protection of ecological and natural features
4) Post-disaster relief and rehabilitation
5) Governance

PDPL is an exploratory study initiated by INHAF in Pune to involve the urban poor in defining the poverty line themselves. Pune has several dynamic unions and organizations of the urban poor who are sensitive to the impact that the poverty line has on their entitlements, benefits and development. With these member-based unions and organizations of the poor as partners, INHAF piloted the Poor Defining Poverty Line Initiative in xxxx, inspired by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights that conducted a similar study in 6 Asian countries between 2013 and 2014.

This work is seen as a special contribution to the poverty debate as also a rethink on the strategies, plans and projects for poverty reduction. It is possibly one of the first such efforts in the country’s urban sector and is meant to:

a) highlight the need for and the virtue of the bottom-up way of defining and measuring poverty, a subject of national concern and development planning and action (the poor who live poverty are well equipped to define it )
b) develop and demonstrate a participatory, consultative and community engaging methodology in doing so
c) contribute to demystification of the poverty line, at the top and the bottom, at the government and the city level
d) highlight the known deficiencies and inadequacies of the existing definition and the measuring method—the uni-dimensional, nutrition-based poverty line—to ascertain that poverty is a multifaceted and multidimensional phenomenon. 


The platform produced a documentation of during and after Chennai floods which included interviews with activists, academics and practitioners as well as curated media reports on the topic to enable citizens to improve their understanding of events surrounding the floods and capturing approaches for risk mitigation.


Action Aid, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), with CAG functioning as the Secretariat for the platform.


2015 Way Forward Chennai Citizens Report