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ARISE Responsive Fund

Through a £1 million Responsive Challenge Fund, ARISE provided small grants to organisations that test innovative approaches to improving health and wellbeing linked to our Theory of Change. The fund was divided into:

A £400,000 Core Country Responsive Challenge Fund (CCRCF).

A £600,000 New Country Responsive Challenge Fund (NCRCF) to extend the evidence base and partnerships.

Within the ARISE core countries (Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Sierra Leone) we are currently on our second round of internal responsive fund allocations.

The first round of responsive funds was brought forward and used as way to respond to COVID-19 in informal settlements. For the allocation of external responsive funds, we partnered with the Slum and Shack Dwellers International Secretariat to put out a call for applications for proposals which link to and take forward the ARISE Theory of Change. Following a competitive process and peer review, four new external responsive funds have been awarded, in Bangladesh, India, Malawi, Nepal, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. 



Unsafe water supply, weak environmental health services, and poor sanitation are major challenges to informal urban dwellers everywhere. Only 19% of urban informal dwellers in Bangladesh have access to sanitation facilities, and a lack of tenure security is a major reason of this dearth of WASH facilities. The limited services provided are often through middlemen, at high cost to these informal settlements.

First phase

The first phase focused on the inequitable access to WASH facilities in informal urban communities and a resultant need for establishing a demand-side governance and social accountability mechanism for accessibility of WASH services as well as functionality and sustainability of the infrastructures in the long run.

This round of funding cantered on health education and COVID-19 awareness, in Greenland, Bajekajla and Shyampur communities, and ran from January 2021 to March 2022. During that period 220 health education and COVID-19 awareness courses were delivered, 450 CDOs (community development organizations) and ward committee members were trained on health hygiene and COVID-19 awareness, as well as posters, leaflets and stickers developed and disseminated for mass awareness. Alongside this, 3000 families benefitted from 12 handwashing devices, 58,000 reusable face masks distributed, and nine health camps were organised with 1200 patients receiving health check-ups and medicine.

Second phase

The second phase focuses on strengthened social accountability in informal urban settlements and adopting a co-creation approach for equitable WASH provision.

In this phase work will be taking place in five informal urban settlements in Dhaka, Khulna and Satkhira. The project is expected to reach around 1000 community members through pilot activities focusing on the most vulnerable groups e.g., women, persons with disability, elderly people etc. This will be done through 50 CDO leaders receiving training, 150 CDO members participating in awareness raising sessions and 800 community members reached through WASH intervention.



In India responsive funds were managed by SPARC and used to run a series of health camps in 6-8 different cities. The camps were run to engage with people on their health, build understanding and gain insights into health issues, and strengthen community participation for action towards the improvement of health. So far, the team in India have run 15 camps in 2022 and eight camps in 2023, seeing a total of 3200 people. The team has plans to expand beyond Mumbai, with plans to engage with waste picking communities in Vijaywada and Guntur.

Through the camps the team hope to raise awareness around health issues prevalent in the community, highlight the importance of regular screening to detect and treat NCDs (within these communities there is a high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension).

Additionally, the team has used funding to reclaim physical office space for the community. The settling of informal residents housing spaces formalises their tenure. Tenure formality brings in set of formal procedures that require non-personal and ‘official’ engagement between residents as members of and with officials of cooperative societies. The team identified 4-6 different locations in which to create office space. This included furnishing these offices, computerising records, as well as re-establishing formally elected cooperative society organisations, and establishing transparent accounting mechanisms toward operations and maintenance.



The Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE) and the Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor (Federation) were awarded responsive funds in order to increase access to waste management services in informal settlements in Lilongwe city. As the urbanisation rate continues to grow, so to do the informal settlements. This growth is not being met by growth in service delivery. There are no waste collection services in informal settlements, and the wanton disposal of household solid waste exposes the peri-urban dwellers to unhealthy living environments.

The project will work to improve waste management in the targeted settlements of Mtandire, Mgona and Kaliyeka in the city of Lilongwe. This will be done through a mixed methods approach which will include co-production, community participation, participatory data collection processes and the building of accountability and engagement platforms.



In Nepal responsive funds have been allocated to support a mixed-method implementation study, “Assessing the status of living conditions and accountability status of people living in informal settlements in Nepal”. The study will help to fill a data gap, as national household surveys rarely include large samples of the urban poorest, resulting in a real lack of information on the living conditions in Nepal’s informal settlements. This lack of data results in a lack of accountability and recognition from Government stakeholders. Key unaddressed areas include access to services, intersectionality, accountability from stakeholders, and mental health issues.

The overall aim of the study project is to assess the living conditions, mental health status and access to services of people living in four informal settlements in Nepal and strengthen relationships between relevant stakeholders and improve accountability towards them. The study will take place in Gandaki and Bagmati provinces and will involve 1800 quantitative surveys with head of households including selected vulnerable group of people, and 80 qualitative interviews focusing on informal waste workers, pregnant women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.


Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone responsive funds were allocated to address emerging vulnerabilities from the spread of COVID-19 and the response measures instituted by the government of Sierra Leone targeting three informal settlements. (Informal settlements in the Sierra Leone context refer to spaces without legal entitlements; they include reserved forest lands, reclaimed lands along seafronts, mountain peaks, etc.)

Even though there are relatively low reported cases of positive COVID-19 cases in SL, there are still challenges in vaccinating the eligible populations. By January 2021, COVID-19 vaccines had been received by only approximately 0.04 persons per 100. This is exacerbated by weaknesses in the health system to support effective vaccination, and the lack of adequate health education to enhance vaccine confidence. A result of consequences of conflict and recurrent health crises are factors that affect the country’s capacity to reconstruct the health system after the conflict and the health shocks that have followed.

The situation is even worse for people living in urban informal spaces where intersecting vulnerabilities including a lack of access to services present a unique context of risks. Health access inequities in informal settlements are often a result of limited inclusion of informal settlement priorities into health systems planning processes. 

The responsive find will be jointly implemented by CODOHSAPA/FEDURP, SLURC & COMAHS.



In Senegal the responsive fund is being used to implement a project on collaborative approach to social empowerment, equity, equality in addressing health issues for the well-being of vulnerable populations Of the territorial community of wakhinane nimzatt

This project aims to contribute to the improvement of the health and well-being of vulnerable people in collaboration with administrative authorities, local authorities, health services and community organisations in the suburbs of Dakar. The goal is to empower vulnerable urban populations to identify priorities and act for their health and well-being. It aims to foster stronger relationships between these populations and government/organizations, promoting mutual understanding to enhance health and well-being outcomes.

The activities include conducting a Participatory Rapid Assessment to identify health and well-being issues faced by the population, such as challenges in accessing services and medicines. They also involve establishing a framework for organized residents to meet and discuss their priorities, supporting Community Exchange meetings, and conducting workshops to share the assessment results with members and authorities. Additionally, there are activities focused on developing an action plan, ensuring its implementation, and monitoring, advocating for women’s and girls’ health, engaging in dialogue and negotiation with authorities, and urging local government and health authorities to prioritize vulnerable populations in budgets and agendas. The activities also entail organizing meetings, collecting data for monitoring and evaluation, and documenting progress for replication in other areas.



In Zimbabwe responsive funds will be used to promote accountability on public health and well-being in informal settlements specifically in Harare. The project will be overseen by the Zimbabwe alliance, made up of local interest groups whose interventions target addressing multiple vulnerabilities in slums which continue to deepen urban poverty and inequalities.

In Zimbabwe urban slums not only lack services but are also left out of governance processes. An absence of data on slums further worsens the levels of exclusion. The proposed intervention aims to address structural barriers that perpetuate marginalisation of informal settlements through catalysing evidence-based engagements between slum communities and decision makers. As part of this intervention Tafara and Stoneridge slums will be targeted, where organisations will establish women and youth-led grassroots collectives, undertake participatory data collection processes, help to build accountability and engagement platforms, co-produce of a response strategy, and pilot a hardware intervention in the form of a communal water point.