Alibaug is a coastal town located in the Maharashtra district, about 100 kilometers from Mumbai. The city is part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which has over 26 million inhabitants. Alibaug is only a ferry-ride away from the center of Mumbai, which is the second biggest city, and also the commercial and financial capital, of India. Mumbai is growing rapidly. While the city is one of the wealthiest and most developed regions in India, it is also home to Asia’s second largest slum. Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, and to the harmful effects of pollution.
Since 2010, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Alibaug.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The main causes are construction activity, vehicular emissions, and open burning of rubbish. Mumbai is infamous for its many traffic jams, and the city counts around 400,000 vehicles, most of them run on petrol or diesel and emit damaging amounts of pollutants. The city is lacking waste treatment facilities, so waste is often dumped at the border of the city. The biggest rubbish heap in India, around 16 million tons of trash, can be found in the Deonar suburb. Children are especially vulnerable to pollution: waste and air pollution have a negative effect on their health and living conditions.
Mumbai is one of the fastest-growing cities in India, and the infrastructure has been unable to keep up with this development. Often people who move to Mumbai in search of a better life and job opportunities, end up in one of the urban slums. Around 55% of Mumbai’s total population lives in slums.The largest slum, called Dharavi, is the second biggest slum in Asia, and over 1 million people live there. This slum has developed an informal economy, with thousands working as potters, leather tanners, weavers, soap makers, and in the recycling industry. Children are most vulnerable to the widespread poverty pervading the slums of Mumbai, as they lack access to healthcare and education.