We have worked in India since 1992. Recently we have focused on parent coaching, urban design interventions, and generating knowledge related to the early years.

As of 2020, about 35% of India’s population live in urban areas, and projections indicate that this population will nearly double by 2050. India is home to the largest number of children in the world. Nearly 138 million children in India are under the age group of 0 to 5, of which 36.6 million live in urban areas. Of these, 8.1 million children in the age group of 0 to 6 live in urban slums.

Working with caregivers

Through our Parents+ programme, we are working with Odisha state’s Ministry of Women and Child Development to strengthen parenting and parent coaching in the state and scale across all 70,000 anganwadis. Our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare supports families during children’s first 1,000 days.

We are collaborating with NITI Aayog on the Aspirational District Programme, which reaches children and caregivers in some of India’s most disadvantaged communities.

Photo: Courtesy of Trupal Pandya/Bernard van Leer Foundation

Working with cities

The Foundation’s Urban95 programme evolved from work in India. We are currently supporting Pune, Udaipur and Bhubaneswar through technical partners ICLEI-SA, Ecorys, Egis and IBI, gaining experience that is being applied in other regions.

We partnered with the Smart Cities Mission at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and the World Resources Institute, on the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge. Ten cities were selected from 63 applicants. They will receive technical assistance and capacity-building to re-imagine parks and open spaces, improve access to early childhood facilities, adapt public spaces with early childhood-oriented amenities, and create accessible, safe, walkable streets for young children and families. We now intend to expand light-touch technical assistance to the other interested cities.

We are supporting an Urban95 team within the data analytics and management unit at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, which is working on initiatives such as the Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, and ITCN (infant, toddler, caregiver friendly neighbourhood) dashboard.

Our partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a think tank which guides government policy, includes a capacity-building course for municipal staff and urban professionals on city planning from a young child’s perspective.

Photo: Courtesy of Urban95 Udaipur, Udaipur Municipal Corporation/Bernard van Leer Foundation and ICLEI-SA

Working with Early Years champions

Under our Early Years Thought Leadership programme, we are launching two large studies in collaboration with ICLEI-SA and several academic institutions. The first focuses on understanding the potential impact of climate change on young children and the second on the use of urban spaces by young children and their caregivers.

We are also collaborating with a range of partners including NITI Aayog on primary surveys to assess the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Last year we initiated a collaboration with the Delhi Commission on the Protection of Child Rights to advise on its early childhood journal, Children First, one of the first of its kind in the country.