The quality of life in a locality or a city to a large extent depends upon the availability of suitable infrastructure and services. This becomes particularly important in urban areas where the demand for infrastructure and services is high and often cannot cope with the pace of rapid migration, urbanization, and development. Nearly half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Rapid urbanization has also occurred in India over the past two decades. Nearly a third of its people, about 350 million, now live in urban centres. As the pace of economic growth advances, this number continues to increase. However, urban governments have been unable to keep pace with this rapid expansion.
Lack of access to basic services and poor service delivery are increasingly affecting the lives of citizens in urban areas. Urban local governments (Municipal Corporation/Municipality) have to a large extent been unable to meet the expectations of the public. One of the reasons for the poor performance of urban local governments is low civic engagement. A disconnect continues among citizens, elected and administrative officials that leads to poor planning, execution and delivery of municipal services.
There is no platform where all stakeholders can find space to interact and come out with appropriate solutions to the existing problems. The need for enhanced community participation in urban local bodies is growing to improve the quality of service delivery. Though the service providers receive individual complains, they are not given the consolidated feedback to help them taking corrective measures.
MyCity provides citizens, elected and administrative officials several opportunities during project to come and interact at a platform to establish the lost connect among them. The revitalized connect helps in finding local solutions to the existing problems each time. Consolidated feedback generated using Citizen Report Card and ranking of services through Public Service Index draws attention of public authorities to take corrective measures and improve upon. Media is also engaged for putting pressure to correct services. Citizens too become more aware and get chance to air their voices and develop understanding about limitations of public officials as well. The whole process improves the services, relationship and empowers citizens.
The project partnered with one local CBO in every selected ward of Jaipur. CBOs formed Citizen Action Groups (CAGs) in wards. The CBOs along with CAG members mobilized the citizens to participate in the meetings interact with service providers (SPs) and discuss problems. SPs also got chance to inform citizens about their limitations. CAG members voluntarily acted as messengers of citizens. In several wards, local problems of waste disposal, street disposal, street lights, street roads etc. were resolved by SPs. Through the meetings and also through public display of contact numbers of SPs helped people and SPs in establishing direct connect. People also joined hand in resolving problems together with the SPs to improve service delivery.
The intervention could achieve several outcomes which can be indicated by the progress markers. Awareness and civic sense among citizens and engagement of service providers could be enhanced through the project activities resulting in to improved services and resolved grievances related to Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC). The relationship between service providers and recipients improved that benefitted both. Media played important role by being vigilant about service delivery and performance of JMC. JMC also issued several orders to improve services after evidence-based advocacy efforts based on consolidated feedback gathered through Citizen Report Card and Public Service Index. The project also built the capacity of local CBOs and CAGs who started raising the questions before service providers. In scaling up phase, the project is considering 8 new wards to replicate the activities.