Secure cities for children in India

Rapid urbanisation, growing poverty and inequality are making urban areas more vulnerable to the growing risk of natural and man-made hazards. Poor communities and children are among those with limited capacity to cope with these shocks and stresses. We work towards improving the safety and resilience of communities and institutions in informal settlements

Patna and Kolkata in India continue to experience rapid unplanned urbanization that increases the number of people vulnerable to urban disasters. Poor infrastructure, especially sanitation and access to clean water, unemployment, threats of evictions, overcrowding and poor-quality housing faced by slum dwellers increases their vulnerability to large-scale and localised hazards, especially fire and flooding.

Our urban resilience project in India uses an integrated resilience approach across informal urban settlements, schools and urban governance structures in order to increase the resilience of vulnerable households, individuals (especially children) and governance structures in ways that are child-centred, inclusive and can be mainstreamed in communities, schools and urban government bodies in India.

We work to ensure that local authorities pay attention to the needs of poor communities and we also work directly with communities, especially with children and youth. We raise their capacities for risk reduction, ensure they are aware of their rights, link them up to existing social security schemes and livelihood training opportunities.

77.8 %

of children in street situations do not access existing governmental support systems.


Resilience is the capacity to deal with change and continue to develop.

Social resilience is the ability of human communities to withstand and recover from stresses, such as environmental change or social, economic or political upheaval. Resilience in societies and their life-supporting ecosystems is crucial in maintaining options for future human development.

refers to the propensity of social and ecological systems to suffer harm from exposure to external stresses and shocks. Research on vulnerability can, for example, assess how large the risk is that people and ecosystems will be affected by climate changes and how sensitive they will be to such changes. Vulnerability is often denoted the antonym of resilience.

Project Outcomes

The lack of access to a safe and child-friendly environment violates children’s basic rights and has far-reaching implications on their health and development. Cities must address life in the city from the lens of a child and prioritize addressing their most critical needs.

As a result of a seven-year relationship with communities and local government in Patna and Kolkata, there has been a growing interest in urban disaster risk reduction and school safety programmes. This has motivated governmental officials to work with us on larger resilience programmes in these cities.

The project aims to reach 27,000 direct beneficiaries across 20 slums and 20 schools in both Patna and Kolkata. The aim of the project is for schools and other local institutions to engage with, adapt and incorporate a child-centred risk reduction and resilience approach throughout their governance processes and service delivery. The incorporation of this framework into government policy is a key outcome of this project.

The project also enhances the capacity for advocacy by children and communities in order to ensure more effective and accountable program delivery to vulnerable people in our intervention areas and beyond.

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Expanding into other slums Save the Children's past success has allowed the project to expand its intervention areas into other slums. Save the Children works in 20 slums and 20 schools in 2 wards in Patna and 2 wards in Kolkata, India.

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