Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge Cohort Announced; 25 Cohort cities shortlisted

New Delhi: The Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, announced twenty-five(25) shortlisted cities for the ‘Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge’ cohort, in collaboration with the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) and technical partner WRI India. The Challenge is a 3-year initiative aimed at supporting early childhood-friendly neighbourhoods under the government’s Smart Cities Mission.

The following cities have been selected for the ‘Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge’ cohort: Agartala, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Dharamshala, Erode, Hubballi-Dharwad, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Kakinada, Kochi, Kohima, Kota, Nagpur, Rajkot, Ranchi, Rohtak, Rourkela, Salem, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruppur, Ujjain, Vadodara, and Warangal. 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.

The first stage of the Challenge involved an open call for applications from city agencies and closed on February 7th, 2021. 63 cities from across 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. From the list of applicant cities, the evaluation committee chose 25 cities based on the strength of their applications.

Cities 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. Besides streets and open spaces, other proposed pilots aim to address the need for early childhood amenities in government office premises, bus shelters and transit hubs; developing Anganwadis with nutrigardens and age-appropriate play equipment; and transforming outdoor waiting areas for PHCs with shade, seating, and lactation cubicles.

Shri Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA, said: “By engaging cities to shape healthier urban environments for early childhood, the Challenge has refocused attention on the importance of neighbourhood-level interventions. This approach is well-aligned with the strategy of the Smart Cities Mission to promote inclusive, people-oriented development in compact, local areas towards scaling city-wide solutions that enhance our citizens’ quality of life. We are proud to see cities across India stepping up to the challenge and demonstrating their commitment to adopt more sensitive urban planning and design that addresses the needs and aspirations of millions of young children and their families.”



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. There was an enthusiastic response from cities to focus 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 aged 0-5 years old. In addition to physical interventions in public spaces, cities have also proposed public engagement activities designed to support behavioural changes and have considered long-term policy and administrative changes needed to place an early-childhood lens in their approach to urban planning and development.

About the Challenge

Under its prime objective of inclusive development, the Government of India is committed to enhancing opportunities in urban areas for all vulnerable citizens, especially young children. The Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge, launched on November 4th, 2020, invited participation from all Smart Cities, capitals of States and UTs, and other cities with population above 5 lakhs were eligible to participate.

Over the 3-year initiative, selected cities based on their proposal, readiness, and commitment – will receive technical support and capacity-building to develop, pilot and scale solutions that enhance the quality of life of young children. Over time, the programme will enable city leaders, managers, staff, engineers, urban planners, and architects to incorporate a focus on early childhood development into the planning and management of Indian cities.


For more information on the Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge, please visit –
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