India’s Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge helps cities to support families

The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge is a three-year initiative working with selected Indian cities to pilot and scale ways to improve urban life for babies, toddlers and caregivers – including through interventions in public space, mobility, neighbourhood planning, access to early childhood services and amenities, and data management.

Photo: Courtesy of Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge

In partnership with the Smart Cities Mission, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and World Resources Institute India – our technical partner – we launched the challenge in February 2020. The Mission invited cities to make proposals drawing on the experiences of the Urban95 programme’s “lighthouse” cities in India: Pune, Udaipur and Bhubaneswar. Insights from Urban95 were also distilled into a series of publications to inspire applicants – Infant, Toddler, Caregiver-Friendly Neighbourhood Framework and Guidelines.

Ten winning cities scale up their ideas

Over 60 cities applied. In February 2021, an independent jury of national experts selected an initial cohort of 25, which received support over the following year to implement activities such as reclaiming public spaces for play, refurbishing amenities that provide services to families, creating safer walking experiences for families with young children, and enhancing opportunities for young children to connect with nature.

The ministry announced ten winning cities in January 2022: Bengalaru, Hubballi-Dharwad, Indore, Jabalpur, Kakinada, Kochi, Kohima, Rourkela, Vadodara and Warangal. They are currently being supported to scale up their interventions.

A platform for learning and exchange

The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge is also currently poised to become a platform for peer-to-peer learning and sharing best practices between cities. Representatives from three cities – Indore, Jabalpur and Rourkela – took part in an Urban95 study tour to Copenhagen in May 2022.

Photo: Courtesy of Superpool

At an Urban95 learning exchange session in July 2022, city representatives discussed their current status of implementation: for example, nine had begun engaging partners, eight had identified priority projects, seven had established a dedicated institutional setup, and three had set up an advisory committee including government and NGO representatives. They explored the challenges and opportunities they had encountered so far, and shared innovative ideas and solutions.

Shri Manoj Joshi, Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, says: “Changes led by the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge cohort are transforming how we plan, design and manage Indian cities to be healthier, more inclusive places for young children, which consequently enhances life for all.”