Children and young people in Delhi have helped design an innovative smartphone app for mapping urban life aimed at initiating change in communities by identifying basic needs like toilets.
‘Map My Community’ app has been designed by the young people, who have completed training and are now collecting data across the city.
The University of Birmingham and Humara Bachpan Campaign (HBC) have collaborated for the project, funded by UK-based Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), that aims to map urban life in Delhi.
The project collects evidence about the experiences of children and young people in informal settlements across the city. It aims to influence city master plans, zonal development plans and urban development policies – leading to creation of child-friendly cities.
‘Humara Bachpan’ – a national campaign which aims to fill a gap in advocacy in India, focused on the living conditions of young children in urban poverty – is working with young people in children’s clubs across 20 informal housing settlements in Delhi.
The first results of the young people’s work using the app to collect information across the city are delivering new toilet buildings – identified as a priority community need.
Work has now begun on the construction of new toilets in Badarpur after the use of the app and children-led planning work enabled them to identify a need for such facilities.
Data collected from the project and problem analysis from HBC’s Children-led Planning process were used to submit a detailed charter of demands to the local authorities, who recently released government funds to re-build the public toilet.
Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham who is leading the project, said: “Impacts are already emerging from this innovative way of working. For young people to see the benefits of their work, first-hand, in their community is really incredible.
“Over the coming months, we will support children’s participation in urban planning and help them push for urban spaces which support young people’s lives.”
One of the young people taking part – a girl aged 14 – said: “This is the first time I have ever seen an application that pays attention to the problems faced by children and takes our views and opinions. Thank you!”
Another participant, a boy aged 13, added: “The unique thing about this app is that it allows us to express our issues in an easy way.”
HBC and University of Birmingham researchers are collaborating on this project, which emerged from a larger- scale ESRC-funded project on children and young people’s everyday experiences of Urban Transformation in India.
There are currently 150 child leaders from 20 communities across Delhi collecting data for the project.