“How do we engage the poor into the conversations we need to have – as partners, rather than just beneficiaries? In fact, it’s a question we should all be asking.” 
-- Melanie Walker, Deputy Director for Global Development Special Initiatives at the Gates Foundation
Dharavi. Photo: The Gates Foundation
[19 January 2012] -- A new blog series by the Gates Foundation takes a closer look at urban poverty in Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums.
“Voices of Change”: A Trip Through Dharavi” is based on a November 2011 visit to Mumbai by Melanie Walker, Deputy Director for Global Development Special Initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and 11 of her colleagues from the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders.
The purpose of the visit was to learn about the living conditions of Mumbai’s poorest and to hear directly from the residents of Dharavi. The group also had the opportunity to meet with Sheela Patel – chair of Shack/Slum Dwellers International and founding director of SPARC (the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers) – to learn about mobilising and empowering the urban poor.
In the blog series, Dr. Walker and her Young Global Leaders colleagues share their experiences in Dharavi through commentary, videos and photojournals that feature the challenges of daily life in Dharavi and the hope and strength of its residents. 
A Cities Alliance partner, the Gates Foundation has raised the profile of the urban poor globally. It provides funding for urban development initiatives that focus on building the capacity of organisations working with the urban poor, integrating the voice of the poor into the urban planning process, and building city-level partnerships.
Within that framework the Gates Foundation supports Cities Alliance Country Programmes, which include initiatives in Uganda, Ghana, Vietnam, Burkina Faso and Mozambique.
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