Some 35 people participated in the Human Security Workshop and Study Visit held March 23-26, 2011 in Mumbai, India.
The participants were drawn from 18 cities in the Asia Pacific region comprising of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Nepal, Bhutan and India.
The workshop drew the attention of local governments on how security in their cities can be effectively mainstreamed. Participants experienced safety measures initiated by the community as well as local governments. During a site visit to the slum community policing programme participants saw the effective reduction of crime and violence supported by the community.
Mumbai's effort in disaster preparedness and risk reduction has also received special attention in terms of the role of local governments in providing safe infrastructure and environment to their community. Participants heard about the experience and actions carried out by Mumbai through a visit to a pumping station. They learned about Mumbai's river management as part of their flood-control system and the disaster control room located at the main city hall.
The workshop and study visit was part of the continuous effort of UN-HABITAT, CITYNET (The Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements), SPARC (The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres) /SDI (Shack/Slum Dwellers International) and many other partners to build a culture of safety in local governments and communities, The activity was the follow-up to the first gathering hosted by the City of Marikina, Philippines last year. Both events were eye openers to participating Asian cities and many have felt motivated to pursue the cause of sustainable urban development through the lens of human security.
Urban human security broadly refers to the ways in which a government or a community develops and directs initiatives, efforts, and activities to address human security issues in urbanising communities through the reduction of crime and violence, mitigating the impacts of disasters, and enhancing the security of tenure by facilitating the establishment of sustainable urban development. It is a complex process where the process of transforming governance becomes a necessary means to sustainable urban development, and where the interconnectivity of various actors and stakeholders performing diverse but interrelated tasks are involved. Thus, capacity-building, community organising, and development initiatives are key to attaining the goals of urban human security.
Even though Mumbai has been identified to be in a high risk zone for earthquakes, public awareness is very low. Studies have indicated that most of the historical buildings and those built decades ago are at extremely high risk of collapsing at any time. The slums in Mumbai pose perhaps the greatest challenge for the city as people are living in extreme conditions and are unaware of the numerous risks they face.
The workshop concluded with a group discussion through the global café approach on immediate actions that should be taken in the participant's own cities. As one of the participants said "In making one's city resilient, let's not be reckless or even think of perfection. Always think that there is always a better way!"
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) hosted the workshop – the first activity held by the Satellite Office of CITYNET.