Transforming M Ward

Locations: M ward, Mumbai

Sponsor: Tata Institute of Social Sciences


Transforming M Ward : Leveraging Knowledge for Social Transformation

PosterThe M-East ward, one of the twenty four administrative divisions of Mumbai and home to over 8,07,720 (Census 2011) residents, is also one of the poorest areas in the city. Its human development index is the lowest in the city representing an infant mortality rate of around 66.47 per thousand live births, out-of-school children between the ages of 6 to 14 years is 1,490, more or less equally divided between boys and girls, and more than 50 percent children are malnourished (HDR, 2009). The child malnutrition levels in the area, have been equated to Sub-Saharan Africa and a life that is full of poverty, insecurity and everyday violence. The ward is thus symptomatic of the paradoxes of urban development in the country and its problems are linked to the secondary citizenship of urban poor, the lack of official recognition of life, the lack of data and knowledge about several processes at work and patchy solutions that lack accountability and adequate resource support. The M Ward is also the immediate neighbourhood of TISS; students and faculty of TISS have used the ward as a teaching and experience base for several decades. TISS, on the occasion of its Platinum Jubilee year- 2011 initiated a project that hopes to fulfil its social obligation to the people of the ward by generating knowledge and using it to build strategic partnerships for transformation of the human development conditions in the ward.

The project was launched through ambitious base line studies in November 2011 which involved all students and faculty in the Mumbai campus. These studies enumerated 1,20,000 households from slums and gaothans in M Ward. A socioeconomic survey of 20,000 households was then conducted with the help of students, faculty and volunteers from slum communities. Further, a study of reproductive health of women and a nutritional check of children under five years of age was also carried out. Parallely, the base line studies carried out a census of homeless persons in the ward, an assessment of basic amenities and video documented oral histories of slum communities. Subsequently, a micro planning involving above 78 communities in the ward was conducted. The project has also conducted need assessments in resettlement colonies, studies of maternal health systems, inquiries into circumstances of maternal deaths and difficult deliveries and assessed child-friendliness of schools and communities. The learnings from these studies have been immense and have fed into several efforts of transformation.

These include

  1. inception of a forum of community leaders that have been influential in advocating people-centred development of the ward
  2. led to initiation of a large school mid-day meal programme involving children
  3. led to planned intervention of a mobile health clinic covering 7 most vulnerable slum communities
  4. design and implementation of a community based educational support programme
  5. a ward level forum that coordinates across governmental and NGO actions around child health and nutrition
  6. led to partnerships with the municipal corporation on parameters of slum improvement and planning of interventions. As the project moves forward, it seeks to link students and faculty to key intervention areas in the ward and institutionalise some of the learnings.

The M Ward Team is headed by Prof Amita Bhide, with project staff comprising Sabah Khan, Leena Joshi, Neeraj Kumar, and Purva Dewoolkar.

  • To enhance the human development in the ward through concerted outcome based interventions in health, education, livelihood and housing


  • Supporting and enhancing quality of school education
  • Community leaning centres
  • Recreation and sports 
  • Work with youth
  • Support to SHGs
  • Coordinated work on women and child health 
  • advocacy with and for poor communities
  • campaigns for inclusion of poor in development plans of city