With the world’s youngest population and increasing migration from the hinterland to the cities, it is no wonder India’s urban hubs continue to be constrained for resources. Through an innovative approach to address these constraints, Change Makers, a Pune-based NGO, is seeking to organize and mobilize local citizen groups to initiate and impact neighbourhood change.

Piloting a six month competition, incentivizing citizen groups to organize and take up local community issues, Change Makers engaged Swaniti to help structure the competition and deliver leadership trainings to active community members. Conducting an initial field visit, Swaniti Fellows interviewed citizen groups from various socio-economic backgrounds, covering issues such as eco-friendly festivals, local health camps, water sanitation practices and vermi-composting campaigns. With a 125 participating citizen groups, representing 100 households each, tackling a wide range of issues inflicting different neighbourhoods, the challenge for Change Makers seemed to be in objectively evaluating the impact of these groups to arrive at a competition winner.

Drawing from best practices and developing a tailored approach for the context of Pune and the issues selected by various groups, the Swaniti team created a comprehensive competition guide including a robust evaluation process, involving qualitative and quantitative metrics. The team also helped map out all concerned stakeholder groups and define various roles and responsibilities. The judging committee and associated expectations were also laid out so as to add to the credibility of the competition. Monthly performance tracking templates were created, which would include written and visual evidence of the impact made by each group, through the number of participating citizens, the extent of remediation for the chosen issue and the degree of awareness generated.

The Swaniti team was also able to deliver an in-depth leadership training in partnership with Haiyya, a Mumbai-based NGO focused on empowering community mobilization. The training was held in Delhi for a group of 10 highly active community leaders and focused on teaching strategies pertaining to communicating one’s personal story, methods of mobilizing communities and adapting different leadership strategies to the context at hand. The training empowered the women to extend these learnings to an additional 130 local community leaders in Pune and scale the Change Makers model to additional neighbourhood communities.

With the culmination of the pilot competition in January 2015, Swaniti was able to help Change Makers document their impact and the success of their model, eventually developing a sales pitch for additional CSR funding to carry on the initiative and continue to empower common citizens in Pune to proactively impact change in their own neighbourhoods.