During the Resilience for Whom session panelist were invited to examine more closely who are the beneficiaries of resilience.
A key message put across by both Shiraz Wajih, President of GEAG, and Dharmistha Chaudhan from Mahila Housing/SEWA Trust was that public policy or investment in slums does not necessarily target the needs of people, because new types of urban poor groups arrive in Asia’s cities every day. They highlighted certain groups, in particular women, require a more granular, adapted approach. Chaudhan stated that: “resilience isn’t about slums, it’s about the people”. She went on to highlight how work that has been driven by women’s groups in various cities in Northern India has enabled systemic changes to take place both by their influencing of government but also through participatory education of women focusing on the crucial importance of building their own resilience in the face of natural disasters. Mahila’s methods enable women, many who have been homeless, to be “Vikansinis” or “Carriers of Change”, as they become drivers of systemic change in their communities.
Sasank Vemuri from the ADB made an intervention that floated some ideas for realizing greater, scaled change with UCCR projects. He presented the difficulties inherent to International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the Asia Development Bank and suggested that these institutions remain demand driven and still largely influenced by trickle-down economic approaches. Although this means there are some bottlenecks to progress, he encouraged the audience to work closely institutions such as the ADB to enhance parallel or blended financing of UCCCR projects (typically worth less than $5million US) alongside larger loans for infrastructure projects. Vemuri also suggested that the case for the “Resilience Dividend” needed to be strengthened with more empirical research for IFIs to deepen investment in bankable UCCCR approaches across the region.