On 28 October 2017, Divya Disha organized a Children’s Consultation with GHMC Corporators (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation).
We have, with the support of the Bernard van Leer Foundation been working in urban slums of Hyderabad to create a platform for children to reflect on their experiences living in a city and discuss the city they need. The aim is to change the perception of the role of children in shaping the city. Through our work in the slums, and the training of child leaders and child journalists, we have been creating awareness of the importance of their inclusion and contributing to inclusive, safe, and sustainable cities.
Children’s Consultation With GHMC Corporators
Children have been raising issues in their slums and approaching Government Officials and their local Corporators to have these resolved. To bring the children in touch with the Corporators at an official forum, the Children’s Consultation with Municipal Corporators was organized.
A Presentation By The Children
Child Leaders and Child Journalists made a presentation to the Deputy Mayor and the Municipal Corporators.
They shared about the formation of children’s organisations and and the work of the Child Leaders. They explained the concept of the community wall paper (godapatrika) and how the Child Journalists raise issues through it. The children explained how they articulate their opinions on various issues in their community and write letters to the authorities get them resolved.
Additionally, they explained the concept of MaBaMaPa – Maa Basthi, Maa Pranalika (Our Community, Our plan). The children have formed Basthi (community) Children’s Councils. Through this children led planning for child friendly neighbourhoods, the children become the centre of community planning. The Chairperson of each Basthi Council is the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Corporator for that area. This way, the process is mainstreamed and systematized.
This consultation was planned to bring together the Corporators who have been involved in these processes. Since the Deputy Mayor is also one of the Corporators who we work with, he generously agreed to host the meeting in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Headquarters.
Key Recommendations Made By The Children
Post the presentation, the children made some key recommendations:
# 1 – Set up a Help Desk in the GHMC Headquarters
The children shared that they, through the training received through Divya Disha, know how to write letters and have access to their Corporators and the GHMC Officials. However, this is not so for all children in the city. Therefore, they recommended that a Help Desk for Children be set up at the Corporation Headquarters. The Help Desk will receive, forward and follow up on the complaints and suggestions that come from children, either by phone, post, letter or in person. This will create access for the children to the highest city authority.
# 2 – Appointment of a Nodal Officer for Children’s Issues
To strengthen the Help Desk and make sure that the children’s complaints and issues are redressed, a Nodal Officer should be specifically appointed for this.
# 3 – Regular Meeting of GHMC Officials with children – Balala Vani
The GHMC conducts ‘Prajavani’, the weekly grievance redressal programme, in which citizens can interact with senior officials in a systematized manner. A similar channel of interaction, Balala Vani, for children, was proposed.
There was a verbal commitment from the Corporators to take these recommendations forward and discuss them with the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner.
Interactions Between the Children And The Corporators
The interactions between the children and the Corporators of their respective areas was interesting to observe. Having interacted with the Corporators in the Basthi Councils, the children were at ease with them. The Corporators were genuinely listening to the children too. The children shared how their accessible their corp orators had been.
The Corporators lauded the efforts of the children in influencing their respective neighbourhoods. The Corporator of one particular area shared how it was the initiative and efforts of the children, with the support of the mothers, that ensured the garbage piled up for years was cleaned and an area cleared for community activities.
Child Participation In Evidence
It was hard to miss the symbolism of children occupying the dais of in the heart of the Municipal Corporation, while the Corporators sat and listen, and stood up to speak in turns.
Corporators Pledge Continued Support
The Corporators signed a written pledge to have a child friendly perspective in all their decisions. The pledged to listen and take on board the voices of children both as Corporators and as Chairpersons of the Basthi Committees. This pledge was symbolically handed over by the Corporators to the children.