Facts and Figures

On slums…

According to the UN Habitat, 2006, slums typically have the following characteristics: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.

1 in every 5 of Delhi’s residents lives in a slum colony [2]. 

The world’s slum population is growing at a rate of 2% annually.

Approximately half the world’s population now live in cities and towns. But: urbanisation is not synonymous with human progress. Urban slum growth is outpacing urban growth by a wide margin [4].

It is estimated that, on average, a slum area that contains around 20% of a city’s population will have around 50% of its diseases [1].

Nearly 200,000 people migrated to Delhi every year between 1991 and 2001 [2].

On health…

High diarrhoea prevalence can be directly attributed to the absence of proper water supply and sanitation facilities in the urban slums of Delhi [2].

Diarrhoea is the second most important killer of under-five children world wide, outnumbered only by acute respiratory infection. Dedicated community volunteers in Asha slums know how to make Oral Rehydration Solution and provide it to those with diarrhoeal illnesses – deaths from diarrhoeal illnesses are extremely rare in Asha slums.

The Under-5 Mortality Rate (number of deaths per 1,000 live births) is significantly high at 112.2 among India’s urban poor. The average for Delhi is 46 [2]. In Asha slums, the Under-5 Mortality Rate is 28.2.

In India, acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia are the leading cause of child deaths. It is estimated that 60% of ARI deaths can be prevented by seeking health care immediately on developing signs of ARI and by selective use of antibiotics. Asha provides healthcare within slum areas, making children much more likely to survive these infections.

India has the greatest proportion of TB cases in the world, with around 1,000 people dying of the disease every day. TB thrives in slum areas, and slum residents are slow to seek treatment for health problems. However, in Asha slums, 95% of TB patients are on regular treatment, and cases are actively identified.

Poor water quality is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and a defining danger of living in slums [6]. Asha enables slum residents to gain access to safe water and sanitation, drastically improving their health.

On women…

In India, only 19% of the poorest people have a skilled attendant present during childbirth – the figure for the most affluent women is 89% [3]. In Asha slums, 98% of women give birth in a hospital, or in the company of a trained midwife.

Violence towards women is also associated with the absence of basic services like street lighting [7].

On children and young people...

Nearly half (47%) of the urban poor population in Delhi is under 15 years of age [2].

A combination of poverty, discrimination and inadequate schools means that child labour is an entrenched problem in India – as many as 23 million children aged 5-14 are believed to work, with another 75 million out of school [5]. Asha staff and community volunteers know which children are not attending school or who have dropped out.

When youth seeking work fail to find productive, decent livelihoods, they can become socially excluded and enter a cycle of poverty, experiencing high rates of unemployment across their life spans [8].

On education…

A vast majority (86%) of the urban poor in Delhi are illiterate [2].

Demographic and Health Survey data points to four main reasons why girls discontinue their education: lack of finances, early marriage and pregnancy, domestic work responsibilities, and poor performance [9].

Asha provides English lessons for hundreds of girls and boys each year, and gives them access to computers and a wide range of books and newspapers.


1. Clinard MB. Slums and community development. London: The Macmillan Company; 1970

2. “THE STATE OF URBAN HEALTH IN DELHI” – Dr. Siddharth Agarwal, Mr. Anuj Srivastava, Dr. Biplove Choudhary and Dr. S. Kaushik for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 2007

3. World Health Organization 2007. Maternal Mortality in 2005: WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and The World Bank, Geneva: World Health Organization

4. 2007 Human Development Report (HDR), United Nations Development Program, November 27, 2007, p.25

5. Education in India, September, 2008

6. World Health Organization. Emerging issues in water and infectious disease. 2003

7. Krishnakumar A. A sanitation emergency. Focus. 2003

8. International Labour Organization 2004

9. UN Habitat 2006