This case study from India highlights a slum electrification initiative in the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, which started with electrification of five slums in 2001 and scaled up to 710 slums in a span of 7 years. Ahmedabad with a population of 5 million and an area of 190.84 sq. km is India's fifth most populous (2011 Census) and seventh largest city, respectively.


The slum electrification project was a result of a multi-stakeholder collaboration between Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), which is responsible for the civic infrastructure and administration of the city of Ahmedabad, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Ahmedabad Electricity Company Ltd (AEC). The AEC, sole distributor of electricity to the consumers in the city of Ahmedabad, was the lead project coordinator and supplier of electricity under this project. In addition, two local NGOs—SAATH1 and Gujarat Mahila Housing 2 SEWA Trust (MHT)rendered strong support to the project by not only mobilizing the community, but also in helping the utility i.e. the AEC to implement the project effectively. They achieved this through their positive reputation and rapport, which they shared with the slum dwellers as a result of their efforts in the Parivartan3 Programme (the slum networking program, initiated by AMC in 1998 to provide water and sanitation facilities to the same target group). In each of the identified slum areas, community based organizations (CBOs) were set up by the AEC to facilitate the programme implementation.

This case demonstrated that poor communities are willing to bear the cost if a quality and reliable service is provided to them. 

1 In Gujarati, the word SAATH means 'Together/co-operation/a collective or support'. Since 1989, SAATH has facilitated participatory processes that improve the quality of life for the urban and rural poor.

2 Translates to 'Ladies housing trust'

3 Literal meaning 'change'





  1. Objective
  2. Target Group
  3. Output
  4. Key Features of the Case
  5. Sustainable Financing
  6. Supportive Policies and Institutional Environment
  7. Building Local Capacity and Skills
  8. Community Participation and Including Local Stakeholders
  9. Achieving Co-Benefits
  10. Affordability and Technical Issues
  11. Local Champions
  12. Monitoring and Evaluation
  13. Replicability and Scaling-up
  14. Contact
  15. References and Further Reading



To develop a public sector-civil society partnership in order to extend legal and reliable modern energy services to slum communities in Ahmedabad.


Target Group

The pilot phase initially targeted 700 households of five slums from the slum networking program of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. After the pilot phase, USAID provided additional grant to electrify another 2,000 slum households. This objective was accomplished by the end of 2003 [1].




Each household in the selected slum areas was provided with a legal private meter and a compact fluorescent bulb. Bill collection centres were set up in:

CBO offices, post offices, Panchayat* office, gas agency's offices, civic centres, and so on. Mobile bill collection centres were also started.


* 'Panchayat' literally means assembly (yat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the village community. Traditionally, these assemblies settled disputes between individuals and villages. Modern Indian government has decentralized several administrative functions to the village level, empowering elected gram panchayats.


Key Features of the Case

i) Multiple stakeholder involvement


The AEC's slum electrification project team worked in close coordination with the non‐governmental organizations (SAATH and MHT) on several project components particularly in awareness and outreach activities owing to their strong relation with the community. CBOs enabled community participation and allowed AEC to monitor the supply and consumption of electricity. In all, this case is an example of successful community mobilization and public‐private partnership (PPP).


ii) Relaxation of local rules


In order to apply for a new electricity connection, AEC requires proof of residence by the applicant. Slum dwellers typically do not have the address proof of their residence given the unauthorised nature of the slum settlements. This rule of AEC was relaxed to enable slum dwellers to get an electricity connection.

AMC passed a resolution to give a non-eviction certificate to slum dwellers that allowed them secure tenure for the next 10 years. The certificate was accepted by the AEC.


iii) Bill collection strategy


AEC initially delivered bills on a bi‐monthly basis, which imposed a financial burden on majority of the people, particularly those who earned a monthly salary. To address this issue, the NGOs involved in the project persuaded AEC to revamp its existing software to enable generation of bills on a monthly basis. This played a crucial role in the project's overall success.


iv) Strong facilitators


The NGOs and CBOs played a significant role through efforts like filing applications for new connections, collecting connection fees, checking meter readings, collecting bill payments, and training the slum dwellers to use electricity judiciously.


Sustainable Financing

To arrive at an optimum connection fee, SAATH conducted an analysis of connection fees and the number of households willing to connect at different levels. This led to the advent of the instalment mode of payment. During the pilot phase, AEC provided connections at the rate of Rs. 2,170 (USD 35), and the rest was subsidized by USAID. The CBOs helped AEC identify and target needy families and AEC provided connections to them at a subsidized rate cost of Rs. 1,700 (USD 27). SAATH and MHT both facilitated the process of availability of loans to the slum dwellers through SEWA Bank for payment of one‐time connection costs by. The SEWA Bank was established in 1974 and registered as a co‐operative bank under the dual control of the Reserve Bank of India and the state Government. An account holder with the bank was required to save money for a minimum period of six months to be eligible to receive loans from SEWA Bank. The loans were offered at an interest rate of 18%.

In the post‐pilot phase, AEC offered a connection charge of Rs. 5200 (approximately USD 83) for new connections in slums. Later, when more people came forward to acquire connections, the amount was reduced to Rs. 3700 (approx. USD 60). Eventually, it was reduced further to Rs. 2500 (USD 40) [1].



Supportive Policies and Institutional Environment

AEC had established certain mandatory prerequisites for obtaining a new electricity connection. These included records demonstrating the legal ownership of house, the latest copy of property tax bill, and ration cards as proof of residence. To resolve this issue, the two NGOs pursued AEC to relax the law, and requested the AMC to ensure that slum dwellers receive secure tenure for 10 years.



Building Local Capacity and Skills

In the pilot phase of the project, the NGOs conducted awareness programmes to educate the slums dwellers on the benefits of:



1) Regular electricity supply over intermittent and unreliable supply that they were accustomed to before the programme;

2) Use of power points, which could allow households to use electrical appliances like coolers, TVs, sewing machines, etc.; and

3) Copies of electricity bill, which would provide households with an identity and residence proof, thus enabling them to also gain access to other benefits like obtaining gas connections etc.


Specific training programmes were also conducted for women to train them on energy‐efficiency measures as means to keep the household electricity bills under check.



Community Participation and Including Local Stakeholders

The following actors played crucial roles in the project:

• Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)- Provided a legal framework to facilitate electrification in slum areas

• Ahmedabad Electricity Company Ltd (AEC)- Lead project coordinator and supplier of electricity

• United States Agency for International Development (USAID)- Financed the pilot phase of the project (2001-2003)

• SAATH- Facilitator NGO

• Gujarat Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT)- Facilitator NGO

• Community and the CBOs


Women played a prominent role in the NGOs and CBOs, and therefore, had significant influence on programme design and implementation. For example, the non‐governmental women's organization MHT campaigned for houses to be registered in women's names so that they could not be evicted from the premises.


Achieving Co-Benefits

  • Incidences of electricity theft decreased, while regular electricity use increased with reported increase of 200% in average electricity consumption per day.
  • The practice of installing meters outside the houses was extended to the entire city, following its immense success in the slum areas.
  • Electrification enabled a more comfortable environment for children to study and families to live in, and allowed access to various electrical appliances. It helped increase the productivity level of residents of slums and had a positive impact on their health.
  • It also helped promote gender equity. In the slums where MHT was facilitating the project, connections were issued in the women's name, which enabled these women to gain greater visibility—both as citizens of the society and as electricity consumers [1].



Affordability and Technical Issues

AEC introduced a system where in, the household would need to pay only Rs. 560 (USD 92) as the upfront cost of the electricity connection, while the rest of the charges would be deducted from their monthly bills. Hence, the rest of the amount was divided into 10 instalments, which were recovered on a monthly basis from the respective households' electricity bills.


Local Champions

The role of the two NGOs was significant in creating an environment of trust, and building consensus on the issue of how the programme would proceed through various stages of implementation. Their deliberations with AMC, their positive reputation and rapport with the slum dwellers helped in obtaining the non-eviction certificates that enabled the electricity company to provide electricity connections. The campaigns organized by the CBOs and NGOs and later by AEC helped build trust amongst the authorities and the slum dwellers.


Monitoring and Evaluation



Replicability and Scaling-up

This project is an example of a multi-stakeholder partnership which raised the scale of the project. Now, all slums in Ahmedabad have electrical connections, with over 200,000 households enjoying regular electricity connections. Moreover, The Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) and the Government of Gujarat have introduced a scheme for BPL (Below poverty line) families, which allows them relaxation from fees till the consumption of 30 units of electricity, after they produce their BPL card*. The scheme has been launched in June 2010 with a view to provide electricity access to all.

Along with this, the programme has the potential for replication with the involvement of local NGOs that can play a significant role in educating and mobilizing the community to partner with the government for similar projects. Interest has been expressed in replicating the model of the project in Africa and Mumbai, India.


*Below Poverty Line is an economic benchmark and poverty threshold used by the Government of India to indicate economic disadvantage and to identify individuals and households in need of government assistance and aid. The identified people are issued BPL cards which ensure their entitlement for Government aid. The BPL status is determined using various parameters which vary from state to state.



Ms Akshima Tejas Ghate

Area Convener and Fellow

Centre for Research in Sustainable Urban Development and Transport Systems
Sustainable Habitat Division
TERI, A-260 Defence Colony, New Delhi-110024

(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Phone: +91-11-46444500


References and Further Reading

[1] ESMAP. 2011. Improving Energy Access to the urban poor in developing countries. White paper for Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), World Bank. (pp. 23-34). Washington DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and development.

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The Ahmedabad slum electrification project (Gujarat, India)






The Ahmedabad Electricity Company Ltd (AEC), the sole distributor of electricity to the consumers in the city of Ahmedabad, was the lead project coordinator and supplier of electricity under this project. In addition, two local NGOs—SAATH and Gujarat Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) were the key facilitators of the project.






Ms Akshima Tejas Ghate

Area Convener and Fellow

Centre for Research in Sustainable Urban Development and Transport Systems
Sustainable Habitat Division
TERI, A-260 Defence Colony, New Delhi-110024

(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Phone: +91-11-46444500


Grid Electricity

Energy resource:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Unspecified grid electricity

Sub type:


    • Energy supply
    • Energy consumption
    • Household


    • Electricity
    • Heating
    • Lighting
    • Productive uses


    • National Grid

    Targeted area:

    • Urban
    • Peri-urban

    Geographical scope:


    Project status:

    Completed project

    Project start:


    End date:


    Implementing approach:

    Public private partnership

    Funding Type:

    • Grant

    Budget (Euro):