Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s Rourkela is among the 25 cities shortlisted for the ‘Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge’ cohort.
The challenge is a three-year initiative aimed at supporting early childhood-friendly neighbourhoods under Smart Cities Mission of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The cities will work in collaboration with Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) while WRI India is the technical partner.
As per a release by the Ministry, 63 cities of India submitted applications proposing neighbourhood-level pilot projects in public space, mobility, and access to services to enhance the physical and psychological health of young children and their caregivers. The evaluation committee shortlisted 25 cities based on the strength of their applications.
The other cities selected are: Agartala, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Dharamshala, Erode, Hubballi-Dharwad, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Kakinada, Kochi, Kohima, Kota, Nagpur, Rajkot, Ranchi, Rohtak, Salem, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruppur, Ujjain, Vadodara, and Warangal.
The cities had proposed a diverse array of pilot projects, including creating toddler-friendly walking corridors in residential neighbourhooods; safer commutes to early childhood services for vulnerable young children and caregivers living in urban slums; increasing opportunities for nature play and sensory stimulation; and adapting underused open spaces within government school grounds into public play areas after school hours.
Other proposals like streets and open spaces, aim to address the need for early childhood amenities in government office premises, bus shelters and transit hubs; developing anganwadis with nutri-gardens and age-appropriate play equipment; transforming outdoor waiting areas for PHCs with shade, seating and lactation cubicles.
During the three-month application period, over 100 cities were engaged through remote or in-person discussions and online capacity-building workshops under the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge. Focus was on the needs of young children aged 0-5 years and their caregivers in the public realm.
Cumulatively, over 300 pilot projects were proposed in neighbourhoods across India that would improve quality of life for over 12 lakh children in the specified age group.
“The cohort will receive technical assistance, capacity building and scale-up support to experiment, and implement trials and pilots over the next six months to demonstrate early wins, solicit citizen participation, and build consensus around their proposals,” said an official statement.