Multi-stakeholder efforts for a cleaner future

Vambay Housing Colony is in the Singareni area of Hyderabad. It is a low-income, government-built residential project. It was constructed about 20 years ago to accommodate approximately 2,000 families.

Its G+ three-storeyed buildings suffer from broken drainpipes and damaged balcony railings. There is also frequent contamination of drinking water. Mounds of accumulated garbage are seen at most street corners. These serve as foraging grounds for pigs, goats and stray dogs. They also act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The resolve to solve the problem of waste management was solidified through the iLOCAL idea contest organized by our partner Hyderabad Urban Lab Foundation (HULF) in 2023. The contest focused on themes related to urban rejuvenation. These included cross-cutting areas in urban ecology, urban heat, child-friendliness, and safety.

Swachh Singareni was one of the shortlisted teams. It was selected to implement on-ground, community initiatives in waste management in Hyderabad. The original idea for a designed intervention by Swachh Singareni came from Ayesha Ateekh and her team, a group of young architects. The group was further supported by experienced architects, including Pingali Naga Praveen and Nithish Pusnna.

The proposal was for cleaning up one site. The goal was to create a learning and play area for children and young people. The Swachh Singareni team believed that the area would serve as a demonstration site to inspire more clean-ups and the creation of community spaces.

Collaborative efforts by civil society organizations were undertaken to address the problem. The stakeholders involved included volunteers from SAFEE, the Dalit Women’s Collective, and the Swachh Singareni team, along with residents from the government-built housing units.

Consultations and documentation of garbage accumulation and its hazards continued until early January 2024. A consensus emerged that long-term solutions require governmental action. However, it was also felt that reclaiming a garbage-ridden public space could demonstrate multiple benefits.

The local elected representatives positively responded to the demands for garbage removal and drainage repair. Municipal staff, community leaders, SAFEE Foundation members, and the Swachh Singareni team sprang into action when the initial clean-up began.

There were numerous challenges though. The site was a contested one. The local community was also reluctant to accept changes that might impinge on the perceived rights.

However, the reclamation process has prompted the community to view their neighborhood as a safe, clean space and to use it more positively. Now, their children have a cleaner place for playing. Maintaining the neighborhood has now become a community priority.


Hyderabad Urban Lab Foundation (HULF) is one of our partner organizations in Hyderabad. It is an interdisciplinary research and action organization. It carries out action research and community work projects in the city. HULF implements on-ground community initiatives in place making, urban waste and water management. It is supported under our Urban Ecology Smalls Grants Program.