Good governance is about the processes that make and implement decisions which affect a city and its people in a positive manner. For this to happen, the governance must be participatory, responsive and inclusive. Urban bodies must be quick to respond, so that there is an effective and efficient delivery of services. Participation must be at all levels and inclusive, such that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society, including children, are taken into consideration in decision-making.
In the context of climate change, this becomes even more imperative, for a city to become resilient.
A study ‘Urban Governance and Urban Climate Change Resilience‘ was conducted across 5 Indian cities: Shimla, Indore, Gorakhpur, Panjim & Guwahati. It observed that though community participation did occur in some of the cities, adequate children participation did not, even though some good practices had been adopted by these cities. These practices however, did address children’s vulnerabilities and resilience building in the context of climate change, directly or indirectly.
These cities have adopted certain innovations and mechanisms that help them cope better. The study infers that such good practices can uphold child rights, if the mechanisms and institutions involved therein can be child sensitive and ensure child participation.A few of these tried and tested examples from these five cities are:
1. Use of technology for communication and redressal: Shimla Municipal Corporation has a well-defined complaint redressal system for municipal solid waste management. Besides this, a Whatsapp Group has been set up for quick communication and resolution of issues. People from different tiers of governance, elected representatives and citizens form this group. Citizens post problems with photographs on which immediate action is taken. An excellent mechanism of decentralized governance through a bottom up approach, it is helping build climate resilience.
2. Transparency: Another initiative of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, water quality testing is done at the destination level every day, and the test results uploaded in the public domain where citizens have an open access to it. This not only reduces the communication gap between the Municipal Corporation and the citizens but also enhances answerability/ accountability of the Corporation towards its citizens. This water quality testing reports acts as an awareness tool for the people.
3. Weather advisory; Capacity development: The food and nutritional security of peri urban families, specifically that of children is at risk, when climate change impacts hit agricultural produce. The SMS-based weather advisory system being implemented in Gorakhpur in the peri-urban areas helps the farmers reduce losses and save costs on irrigation, manure, raising nurseries of crops and storage of produce.
4. Multi tier accountability: Madhya Pradesh has been the pioneer state to launch a CM Helpline Toll Free Number 181, for quick and efficient redressal of issues affecting its citizens and has been very well adopted by the Indore Municipal Corporation. Strict monitoring mechanisms have been embedded to solve the registered problems which pass through four levels. If unresolved till Level-4, the State Government directly intervenes. This system increases accountability and answerability of the service providers and adds to good governance mechanisms.
5. Open forums: Jan Sunwayis or Public Hearing in Indore city, is a process by which people affected by a particular action or decision, have the opportunity to ask questions, make submissions or register objections to a panel of experts. A formal meeting, it is designed to provide the public with an opportunity to express their support or opposition for any project or scheme in an open forum. Such hearings are especially useful for people living in low income settlements and peri-urban areas, and gives them a platform to voice their concerns, provides for speedy justice and instant resolution.
6. Participation: Active participation of the communities in planning and implementation of services were seen in Indore and Gorakhpur cities. In Indore, upto 30% of community contribution is taken from the citizens in construction of roads, parks, improving drainage, etc. Maintenance of orchards and parks are also done by communities. On the other hand in Gorakhpur, community-led actions successfully demonstrated that involvement of communities not only helps in planning and improving the provision of basic services in low income settlements, but also motivates them for resource contributions. A citizen’s campaign, Mahanagar Paryavaran Manch, contributed in saving Gorakhpur ‘s Ramgarh lake
7. Multi stakeholder engagement: City Corporation of Panjim holds stakeholder consultations, to solicit feedback and suggestions on development projects. This style of functioning ensures participation from all development departments and also increases the accountability of CCP.
8. Champions: Champions in cities like Shimla are instrumental in addressing the climate related development issues and ensuring good governance for the people by remaining closely connected with the masses.
9. Incentivizing resilience: In Indore, the elected Mayor in the year 2000 came up with the order to give 6 per cent rebate in property taxes for people who adopted rain water harvesting system. A good initiative from the climate resilience perspective, it continued till 2005.Since then, the interest in adopting RWH has fallen down. Therefore, such good practices need to be managed in a way that are sustainable in the long term.
This is the third blog based on the study ‘Urban Governance and Urban Climate Change Resilience ‘ by Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, supported by UNICEF, New Delhi.