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RELEASE: Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge Compendium Launched

Highlighting the work done by the ten winning cities of the Challenge

Delhi, March 7, 2024:  Shri Hardeep Singh Puri from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Smart Cities Mission, launched the “Stories from Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge” compendium highlighting how the 10 winning cities of the Challenge have reimagined public spaces keeping the needs of young children and their caregivers in focus. The book highlights the key strategies employed by the cities to strengthen and sustain this approach through illustrations and project insights. The compendium can be viewed at

The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge (NNC) is a three-year initiative hosted by MoHUA in collaboration with Van Leer Foundation and with the technical support of WRI India. The Challenge aims to incorporate a focus on early childhood development (0-5-year-old children) in the planning and management of Indian cities.

The Challenge enabled 25 cohort cities to pilot 70+ projects in the first phase, while the 10 winning cities implemented 100+ young children and caregiver friendly interventions over the period of last two years (second phase).

The unique social and physical context of each city has resulted in diverse models of scaling up the young children-oriented lens in urban planning and development. The compendium features success stories from projects in vulnerable settlements, along street sides, parks, and in and around early childhood development facilities.  Going above and beyond implementing projects, these cities have also taken concrete measures to ensure the long-term integration of this approach by fostering partnerships with local communities, seeking convergence with existing government programs, strengthening institutional capacity, and formulating conducive policies.

Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission at Government of India in the foreword to the document said “The Smart Cities Mission has been a platform for re-imaging cities from a people-centred lens and for applying innovating ways of thinking about urban issues in India. The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge has brought young children and their caregivers to the front and centre of infrastructure projects. The 10 winning smart cities have been working towards developing safe, inclusive, accessible, green and playful community spaces. This document highlights the efforts undertaken by them towards scaling up neighbourhood-level interventions across the city by seeking convergence with the existing programs, mainstreaming young children and caregiver’s needs in the urban local bodies by strengthening institutional capacity and conducive policies, and fostering partnerships with local communities.”

Rushda Majeed, Chief Programme Officer, Van Leer Foundation, said “The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge has successfully demonstrated the need for and the profound positive impact seen in ten winning cities through young children and caregiver friendly urban development. Cities have reimagined public spaces and early childhood facilities at the neighbourhood level, improving access for caregivers with infants and toddlers. The various strategies adopted by the cities, towards scaling and sustaining this approach documented in the compendium offer invaluable insights for peer cities, policymakers and urban practitioners seeking to implement and expand the young children-friendly approach nationwide. We are grateful for the support provided by MoHUA, Smart Cities Mission through the Challenge in encouraging cities to sustain the momentum.”

Sree Kumar Kumaraswamy, Program Director, Clean Air Action, Sustainable Cities & Transport, WRI India, said “The stories from the field shows exceptional efforts by the NNC cities in reimagining their neighbourhood to become young children and caregiver friendly. There have been efforts to institutionalise this approach such as capacity building of officials and frontline workers, building partnerships with community groups and stakeholders, emphasizing participation of women in decision making towards shaping their nearby public spaces, setting up a dedicated team to work on such projects and identify sources for funding. We congratulate participating cities for their successes and are grateful to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for hosting the challenge and the continued support provided by Van Leer Foundation through the Challenge.”

Know more about the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge

Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge Compendium Launched

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Chaitali Patil

About Van Leer Foundation: VlF 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 of the 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 center 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:

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