Press Release: Rourkela Hosts Peer Learning Workshop for 10 Cities of the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge

Rourkela Hosts Peer Learning Workshop for 10 Cities of the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge
19 May, 2023

The Challenge enables Indian cities to adopt an early childhood lens in designing neighbourhood-level improvements that promote the health and well-being of young children and their caregivers.

Rourkela, Odisha, May 19, 2023: Rourkela hosted a two-day peer learning workshop, in collaboration with WRI India, for city officials of the 10 winning cities of the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge (NNC). The Challenge is hosted by the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in collaboration with Bernard Van Leer Foundation (BvLF) and with the technical support of WRI India.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the 10 Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge cities – Rourkela, Indore, Jabalpur, Kakinada, Warangal, Bengaluru, Hubbali-Dharwad, Kochi, Vadodara and Kohima. The cities presented their progress on the implementation and scaling of urban development projects in areas frequented by infants, toddlers and caregivers – i.e., anganwadis, public healthcare centres, streets and parks. Projects that were much appreciated were Kochi’s 100 meters long streetside sand park, Kohima’s pocket parks and playful streets, Greater Warangal’s parks and greening efforts, Bengaluru’s traffic plazas and Transit Auditing & Grading System (TAG), and the many amenities built in the lower income areas of Rourkela. Some cities also presented more ambitious ideas like developing a city-wise ‘play masterplan’ for implementation.

The participating city officials also highlighted various strategies they are adopting for the long-term sustenance of the NNC initiative such as strengthening city partnerships, ensuring consistent civic engagement, building the capacity of city officials, and planning for financial sustainability as well as operations and maintenance of the interventions. Participants also engaged in various hands-on exercises by applying a behaviour change lens to sharpen their projects and initiatives in respective cities. The sessions enabled the participants to develop behaviour change strategies, targeting both government and non-government entities and communities, to ensure long-term sustenance of ongoing young children and family-friendly initiatives.

Participants further went on to visit projects in Rourkela developed under the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge, in convergence with other missions of the state of Odisha. These included the child-friendly cluster in Ruputola which includes a library, anganwadi, multi-purpose space for self-help groups and play areas. At Leprosy Pada residual open ground was reclaimed to develop a formal play space complete with sand pit, play equipment and shaded seating spaces for caregivers. Participants also visited the city’s Sensory Park and primary health center at Basant Colony, both improved under the NNC initiative.

Speaking at the convening, Dr. Subhankar Mohapatra, Commissioner, Roukela Municipal Corporation and CEO, Rourkela Smart City Limited, said, “Rourkela Municipal Corporation and Rourkela Smart City Limited have been actively working towards making the city children-friendly, with focus on the most vulnerable sections in the city. We have also been able to leverage funds from several state-level schemes to implement these projects and partnerships with local organizations and citizen leaders have greatly helped in the continued smooth operation and maintenance of these spaces. It is a matter of great pride for us that the Peer Learning Workshop is being hosted in Rourkela bringing together all winning city officials to facilitate cross learning. We believe we could greatly learn from everyone here and the sessions on behaviour change will also help us in sustaining this approach in the long-term.”

Speaking at the workshop, Jeenal Sawla, Principal Advisor, Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, said “According to Economic Survey 2018-19, India's Demographic Dividend will peak around 2041, when the share of working-age, i.e. 20-59 years, population is expected to hit 59%. Which means that a large number of this workforce is being born right now. For our country to leverage our demographic dividend and reach our economic and societal goals, we need to ensure that our children have a nurturing environment to grow up in and become capable and healthy contributors to society. To invest in early childhood development in India means investing in building our cities and country. With this in mind we have been running NNC for the last two years.”

Andrea Torres, Director Programme Support and Learning, Bernard van Leer Foundation said, “The Bernard Van Leer Foundation is appreciative of the efforts taken by the ten cities in formalizing processes and systems to scale the young children and caregiver friendly lens in their cities. The sessions on behaviour change further elevate our collective understanding of sustaining this lens in the long-term. It has been a pleasure to host the peer workshop in Rourkela that has implemented young children-friendly solutions in the design of several public spaces and has successfully developed workable models for financial convergence and community participation for operation and maintenance.”

Sreekumar Kumaraswamy, Program Director, Sustainable Cities and Transport, WRI India, said, “We started the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge with a hope to propagate the approach of integrating the young children and caregiver-friendly lens in urban planning and development across the country. Over the three years of the Challenge, we now see cities strategise, pilot, scale, and implement several initiatives through the infants, toddlers and caregiver lens in their cities. The Peer Learning Workshop gives an opportunity to share our learnings, reflect and exchange further ideas of scaling and sustaining this lens in the long-term.”

Media contacts:
Chaitali Patil | WRI India
+91 9881126241

Madhura Kulkarni | WRI India
+91 9595157791

About the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge: The Challenge was launched in the first week of November 2020. It is a 3-year initiative hosted by the Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA in collaboration with the Bernard van Leer Foundation and WRI India. The Challenge enables Indian cities to adopt an early childhood lens in designing neighbourhood-level improvements that promote the health and well-being of young children and their caregivers. The winning cities in the Challenge, were to receive technical assistance and capacity-building to improve public spaces, mobility, neighbourhood planning, early childhood services and data management. It was open for all Smart Cities, Capitals of States and UTs, and other cities with a population greater than 5 lakhs. A cohort of 25 cities was selected for further capacity building to implement actions under the Challenge. From these, 10 winners were identified from evaluations taking place in October- November 2021. These cities are Bengaluru, Hubbali-Dharwad, Indore, Jabalpur, Kochi, Kakinada, Kohima, Rourkela, Vadodara and Warangal. The 10 cities are actively engaged in efforts to expand and sustain their interventions. Additionally, the NNC cities participated in valuable international learning opportunities such as study tours in Copenhagen, the LSE Urban95 Academy in London, and INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France. In recognition of their achievements, Indore, Rourkela, Warangal, and Kohima were honoured with the Real Play City Challenge 2022 (Global Challenge). To facilitate knowledge exchange, two peer learning workshops have been organized for all the ten cities in 2022 and 2023. These workshops took place in Pune and Rourkela, providing the cities with hands-on exercises and site visits to enhance their understanding and implementation of the interventions. The focus for the remaining six months is on scaling up projects and bringing about social and behaviour change in citizens and other stakeholders.

About Bernard van Leer Foundation: BvLF is an independent foundation working worldwide to inspire and inform large-scale action to improve the health and well-being of babies, toddlers and the people who care for them. It provides financial support and expertise to partners in government, civil society and business to help test and scale effective services for young children and families. Urban95 is an initiative created by the Bernard van Leer Foundation to help change the landscapes and opportunities that shape young children’s lives. Central to this initiative is the question “If you could experience the city from 95cm, what would you change?” Working with city leaders, planners, architects, and innovators, Urban95 is helping bring this perspective to the centre of design decisions in cities around the world.

About WRI India: WRI India, an independent charity legally registered as the India Resources Trust, provides objective information and practical proposals to foster environmentally sound and socially equitable development. Our work focuses on building sustainable and liveable cities and working towards a low carbon economy. Through research, analysis, and recommendations, WRI India puts ideas into action to build transformative solutions to protect the earth, promote livelihoods, and enhance human well-being. We are inspired by and associated with World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organisation. Know more: