Evaluating coping mechanism of slum dwellers in Midnapore Municipal Area, West Bengal
Utpal Roy1, Bikash Dutta2 and Indranil Maity3
1Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Calcutta
2Research Scholar, Department of Geography, Vidyasagar University
3Research Scholar, Department of Geography, University of Calcutta,
Level of urbanisation is a indicator of development in recent era. But in reality it mismatch with comprehensive development. So , the poor condition are grow in developing region especially in Asia & Africa . A economic opportunity pull a mass amount of people to coming in urban area. So the overburden population cannot pace with the urban development as a result set up in slum region which characterised by un welfare and unethical to living that bring a stressful , strain full life. To reduce this stress they cope up with various strategy for comfort in the way of behavioural and cognitive. It is conscious or instinctively choice of adaptation to phenomenon stresses that enhances control over behaviour or gives psychological comfort. Likewise, slum dwellers are comprises with diverse group of people as well as different interests, means and background. Slum dwellers in every urban area willingly or unwillingly try to solve or cope with the existing problems or adopt some strategies that could be effective or harmful. The study is an initiative to measure the degree of coping strategy and its relation with standard of living of the inhabitants over different slums in Midnapore Municipal Area, West Bengal by using simple composite index. In order to do the same, all slum neighbourhoods have been identified through in depth field survey with the help of earlier collected slum related information from municipality of Midnapore town. Relevant questionnaires used to collect the related information from households using appropriate sampling techniques.
Key words: Coping mechanism, Slum, Survival skills, Standard of living, Composite index
In twentieth century, urbanization is a major wave which change the social construction. it is unprecedented , unpleasant in developing country than the develop country due to high population growth. consequently, population growth cannot pace with structural development of urbanization as a result informal settlements and slums continue increase especially developing nation contain 90% than world 10% ( UN HABITAT,2008). Slum is a major problematic concern due to- overcrowding and congestion, extremely poor sanitation, lack of civic amenities and deviant behaviour, poor housing, choked drains, lack of garbage disposal facilities, poor personal hygiene, and hygienic conditions etc (Patel et al., 2014; Gulyani et al., 2014; Ahmad et al., 2013). Therefore, slum dwellers are mostly perpetuated by this phenomena (United Nations, 2011, Parikh et al., 2015; Stoler et al., 2015). It is estimated that In India slum population constituted 5.4 % of the total population but in respect urban population 17.4% are slum population , those only access to ?71% drinking water, 68 % had access to electricity, 31% of slums had no latrine facility, 31% of all slums had no drainage facility, 27% of all slums had no arrangement of garbage disposal . India is projected 2050 to add 404 million urban dwellers , the structural development can not contain huge amount of population as consequence slum population increase which face different stress and strain like to poverty (26.4%) of the urban population(Slum in India ,2015, planning comission , 2014). As a result slum dwellers have willingly or unwillingly been in front of stresses, pain or changes experiences in their daily or span of life. This stress are comes in life in a various way job stress (Janina C. Latack et al., 1992), food stress ( Palak Gupta et, al., 2015, James O. Owino et al., 2013), environmental stress ( Raquib Abu Salia et, al,. 2015, John Sim et al., 1969) which create mental and health stress ( Shalley E. Taylor). Thus, Sometimes they try to solve or cope with the existing problems or adopt some strategies that are effective or harmful. Coping is a cognitive and behavioural strategy used to minimise various stress and strain in different condition ( Aldwin & Revenson, 1987) and also try to demise internal – external conflict (Coyne et al.,1981 , Kirmeyer and Diamond, 1985). It is situational adjustment for removing threat (Dewe, 1987) and seek to want emotional comfort. Basically it is a capacity building process which deals easily any stress and strain and struggle to removing psychic distress (Osipow and Spokane, 1984. Pearlon et al., 1981. Pearlin and Schooler, 1978). Coping mechanism is the strategies that people use consecutively to deal with stresses, pain, and natural changes that we experience everyday in life. Coping mechanisms are a spectrum of activities: one side represents community self-help initiatives, social support, intention of economic development etc, and another side may be i.e. migration, begging, child labour, violence, prostitution, even selling organs i.e. ‘survival or existence skills’. Despite , In West Bengal, Slum reported towns is 122 and total slum population – 6,418,594 (Notified slums reported -48,918, recognized slums-37, 03,852 and Identified slums- 26, 65, 824 population) in compared to 4,115,980 slum population in 2001 census i.e. slum population increased 2,302,614 within 10 years (about 6% per annum to the total urban population) & about 1% to the total slum population of India (Census-2011). Most of the slum dwellers affected by urban poverty i.e. in the year 2011-12, 14.66% urban population of West Bengal is living below poverty line (According to Tendulkar method, Planning Commission, 2013). Our study find out different cope up strategy of slum people in stress condition in Midnapore Municipal Area, West Bengal.
Background: Changing trend of urbanization in Medinipur District
West Bengal regarded as one of the most urbanized states in India with 28 % (as of 2001) of the population lives in the urban areas and it has shown a growth to the extent of 20.2 % during the last decade. As per latest census (2011), about 32 % people are living in the urban area. Since independence, the state of West Bengal has been witnessed a steady rate of urbanization. The following Figure-1 reveals that since independence, the percentage of urban population in West Bengal has always been higher than the national average. West Bengal now ranks fourth amongst the Indian states in terms of the absolute size of urban population though the average density of the urban population in West Bengal, 6798 per sq. km, is highest in the country.
Table-1 shows the increasing trend of urban population over different census of undivided Medinipur District. The last column indicating % of urban population to total population in different census year. (please you mention the source of data in each table and figure, because it is your part of research-don’t mind)
Paschim Medinipur district has eight more urban areas but Midnapore town is the second ranking urban area which holds around 30% of urban population to total district urban population (Table-2). Even we observed that permanent dwellers of Jhargram and Chandrakona town have shifted their residence from their own town to Midnapore town.
Study area at a glance -Midnapore Municipal Area:
The study area-Midnapore is the second well known urban area in Paschim Medinipur district and district headquarter since its formation as an urban centre. All administrative, commercial, education centers, health centers are located in this urban area. People from different parts somehow are supposed to come at this urban area to meet their variety of need. A significant numbers of teachers are living over the mostly peripheral wards. Interestingly once they did their Post Graduate degree from Vidyasagar University but initially they came from other part of the same district or other districts. Due to different facilities, this urban area has been selected for permanent living unit. On the contrary, urban slums also developed significantly.
? To measure the degree of coping strategy of the slum dwellers.
? To assess the strategies that adopted by the slum dwellers to cope with poverty.
Design of the Study:
Key question Data
1. Standard of living Total number of assets per household. (Account of assets per household)
2. Degree of coping strategy Improving current economic condition, Reducing expenditure on food items, purchasing pattern, housing and dwellings etc.
The study is being mostly both subjective and analytical. Therefore for this purpose, 20 slums were randomly selected. From each selected slum, 10 households were again randomly selected. Purposive sampling was adapted to some degree in choosing the opinion of those households together who are participated in group discussion personally.
Data Collection: Data Analysis:
Degree of coping strategy Data Procedure of data collection
Improve your current economic condition, Reduce expenditure on food items, purchasing pattern, housing and dwellings. Household survey through structured Questionnaire ; Focus group discussion.
Result ; Discussion:
1.0 Coping Strategies of the Households:
Table-3: Degree of coping % of households
Not coping 12.5
Weak coping 66.5
Active Coping 21.0
In general every poor household taken some strategies for their living and struggling against their poor condition and always make an effort to improve their family background. But it is not at all times take place. In the study area it is found that only 87.50% households have adopted coping strategies in which 66.5% households adopted weak/fragile coping strategies and 21% households adopted active coping strategies, but remaining 12.50% have not yet been taken any strategies to fight against with their poor conditions. Most of the cases household consciously or unconsciously follow four coping strategy for adjust different situation “Instrumental strategies, or direct action, are directed towards managing the threat or stressor itself, Intrapsychic strategies are aimed primarily at regulating or minimizing the accompanying emotional distress, Inhibition of action refers to the ability to resist taking action when such action would increase the likelihood of harm, danger, or conflict with moral restraints, Information seeking involves the instrumental activity of gaining a basis for action and also is a form of support mobilization that can relieve emotional distress” Lazarus (1981; lazarus ; Launier, 1978).
Now we look into the different strategies that households has been adopting, as given below:
1.1 Loan taken and Mortgaged or sold of household assets:
Table-5: Mortgaged/Sold household assets % of households
Not yet 94.0
Mortgaged ; Sold household assets 6.0
Table-4: Amount of loan taken (Rs.) % of households
With the purpose of household expenditure sustenance or for small business households are taken loans from formal or informal institutions. In the study area, currently 25.5% households have taken loan in which less than Rs. 10000/- amount loan taken 11%, Rs.10000-20000/- amount loan taken by 8.5% and more than Rs. 20000/- amount loan taken by only 6.0% household. Out of total loan taken, 47.06% loan taken from co-operative bank, 15.70% from corporate bank and moneylender and remaining 21.55% from others bank or informal sectors.
In addition, strategy employed by households in distress is divestment, or the gradual disposal of assets. In case of Mortgaged ; Sold household assets, there are only 6% household agree with that. Most of household said that during crucial period such as illness, daughter marriage etc. they bound to mortgaged or sold household assets (land, animals, farm produce, clothes, etc.) for the purpose of meet such type of expenditure (source: focus group discussion).
The negative strategy taken by household for reduce daily life stress (Coyne et al., 1981, Folkman ; Lazarus, 1980) these are loan from high interest, selling the household asset like to furniture, jewellery, land, animals, farm produce, clothes, etc. but inversely it effect on man.
1.2. Improving current economic condition and alternative works:
Table-6: Steps taken to improve further current economic condition
Develop ; improvement of small business 22.97%
Increase income with alternative job 56.76%
Increase working time 12.16%
Income coping strategy coming from different supplementary occupation (Raqib Abu-Salia,2015) which helps to cope harsh situation in job stress ((Janina C. Latack et al., 1992). In the study area, it is found that only 37% poor household trying to improve their economic condition by means of develop ; improving of small business (22.97%), increase income with alternative job (56.76%), increase working time (12.16%) and others (8.11%) shown in table-6. Besides, 45.71% head of household now engaged with alternative job, 31.43% found supplementary work, 16.19% seeking more wage employment and 6.67% engaged with others work for the intention of improve their economic conditions.
1.3 . Reduces expenditure on food items and purchasing pattern:
Table-7: Steps reduce to expenditure on food items % of households
Not yet 82.5%
Eat fewer meal per day 7.5%
Reduce overall food consumption 10.0%
James O. Owino et. al.,2013 conduct study in Kenya , show that food insecurity among poor people are force to take different coping strategy like to : skipping mill Corbett (1988), eating less preferred food, limited variety of food, eating unwanted food and lack of food for whole day and night. So far as concern of reduces expenditure, only 17.5% households are reduces their expenditure on their food items in which 10% households reduces their overall food consumption and 7.5% household are consumed fewer meal per day. But in case of purchasing pattern, 82.5% household reduces expenditure on purchasing pattern in which avoiding luxurious items almost 52.32%, delay purchase of household commodities nearly 8.44% and buy cheaper brands about 8.0%. It is remarkable that 4.22% households remove their children from school and send them as wage labour i.e. as a child labour and it also increasing day to day to meet the household sustenance (Fig-3). Also 5.06% household purchased household good on credit, spending money mostly for food items and merely using free medicine check up and medicine about 5.49% household respectively and 11.38% household taken others strategies on purchasing pattern. This problem maximally effected especially women because reproductive age are mainly depend on food intake Kabeer (1990)
1.4 Reduction of housing ; dwelling expenditure:
In respect to housing and dwelling expenditure, 28.5% household reduces their housing maintenance and dwelling related expenditure in which 21.50% households dwelling with self-help housing with low cost materials, 4.5% living with renting low cost house and remaining 3% adopted other
Table-8: Steps reducing on housing ; dwelling expenditure % of households
Self-help housing with low cost materials 21.50%
Renting low cost housing 4.50%
1.5 Children’s early marriage:
Table-8: Early children marriage reduces economic burden
Palak Gupta, 2013 James O. Owino et. al.,2013 attempt that food insecurity, low income can increase the early child marriage. There are only 11% household think that early children marriage reduces their economic burden and reduces rearing cost also, thereby free from family burden through give up their family responsibility on their son as well as taking some dowry which is an additional income..
1.6 Use of Social support(s):
Table-9: Different sources of assistance taken by slum dwellers
Sources Financial need % For health problems % For social problems %
Relatives 126 63.0 58 29.0 46 23.0
Friends 5 2.5 23 11.5 38 19.0
Neighbours 54 27.0 94 47.0 99 49.5
Others 15 7.5 25 12.5 17 8.5
Total 200 100.0 200 100.0 200 100.0
Social support is a group coping strategy which removing social solitary (Janina C. Latack et al., 1992 , Mitchell et al., 1983) due to cognitive and behavioural support. During troublesome period of the households, 63.39% and 31.70% household asked help from their relatives or friends and neighbours respectively in terms of economic or social assistance. Most of the households are taken financial help for the most part from their relatives (63%), during health problems they have been taken support mostly from their neighbour’s (47%) and at the time of any social problems they get assistance from their neighbour’s (49.5%) shown in table-9. But some portions of household have been taken financial, health and social assistance from money lender and others also (table-10).
Table-10: Taken Social support during troublesome period
Asked relatives/friends for help 63.39 %
Asked neighbours for help 31.70 %
Others 4.91 %
Most of the household have been taken financial, health and social assistance for the most part from their relatives and neighbors’ respectively.
coping resources are helps to construct interpersonal relationship by two resource i.e. social resource (family, friends, fellow workers, neighbours, and voluntary association) and psychological resources (self esteem , self denigration, self actualization etc) which try to remove tension (Carmi Schooler.2014).
1.7. Family Planning:
Table-11: Family planning taken
Birth control 38% Total=43%
Birth spacing 5%
Family coping is a comprehensive strategy which include different adaptive process problem solving, information seeking, helplessness, escape, self-comforting, support seeking, delegation, social isolation, accommodation, negotiation, submission and opposition explain by skinner (1) which struggle always removing stress. Family planning is another type of coping strategies by which family can reduce their expenditure and care very well the rest of children with proper awareness. In the slums of Midnapore town only 38% households has been taken birth control strategies by using contraception device and birth spacing between two successive children is rare features (only 5%) in the slums area(table-11). Due to lack of education and awareness most of household’s couple do not have an idea or perception to control birth consequently family size increasing which have an inverse impact on coping strategies.
1.8. Preference of Children Education:
Table-12: Preference of study institute for Children education % of households Total
Private institutions 2 % 75.5%
Govt. institutions 73.5 %
Children are the future for the society. If they have a proper education their next generation will be stronger in respect to earning members and societal development. In the study area 73.5% parents wish to children higher education in Government institutions due to lack of economy and 2% households wish to children study in private institutions as children may get govt. job or more wage employment by which impart in family earning and care them at the old age.
Table-13: Health Insurance
No 67.0% Total=33.0%
1.9 . Health Insurance:
In the modern age, health related problem in urban area is major concern. So far as concern of urban slum in India comprises unhygienic environmental condition resulting different types of diseases prevails there. Urban area is known as high quality systems and services, however, slum households can’t afford economic burden due to chronic health issues due to low economic status. In this regards, health insurance is significant. To some extent municipality stipulated by health insurance to slum dwellers but this figure is only 33%. There is no such private health insurance schemes are adopted for the chronic health problems.
Conclusion ; Policy Implications:
In general, the case study material shows that household income have been low and variable, and average real per capita income among the slum dwellers actually declined. On the basis of descriptive results, 87.5% of the households in the slums of Midnapore town adopted strategies in coping with major problem in their daily life in which only 21% households adopted active and 66.5% households adopted weak coping strategies, still 12.5% of the household have not yet been adopted any strategies. Therefore, the possibilities for improving the environment through individual action are very limited. After analyzing the socio-economic condition of poor dwellers and their coping strategies, which necessitate a variety of solutions and actions. While some actions require immediate implementation such as introducing social welfare schemes, some actions need to be taken on a long-term basis changing the negative attitude of the poor dwellers, general public and increasing accurate knowledge about poor communities. The required changes need to be reflected in policies and laws; attitude of the government, general public and service providers, NGO’s; and different organization.
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