M-Ward Initiative is founded in the belief in the emergent space of wisdom within people to plan and implement strategic change while ensuring that their actions enable justice and equity for all. It is an opportunity to demonstrate as a model, inclusive urban planning and development including agency of communities based on empowerment, effective generation of knowledge and transformational leadership.
Several aspects of the life of low income communities continue to be invisible, their contribution to the city unrecognized and their aspirations and voices unheard. In the context of the wide-scale transformations discussed earlier, such invisibility is also one of the major causes of threats to even the marginal existence of the communities. Making the presence of low income communities visible and enabling them to articulate their aspirations for development thus acquire strategic value. It translates into placing critical tools in their hands which can be used to negotiate with the forces of change. The project will make these realities visible through geographically mapped data and information, media and research. The information so generated will be used for a comprehensive situation analysis of poor communities in M ward.
One of the main obstacles to true development is the community’s sense of being powerless and marginalized. This strategy aims to empower vulnerable communities within M Ward to be aware of their rights and entitlements, recognize the difference they can make, and motivate them to play a role in achieving a better future. Community Resource Centres would be established and run by local community youth who would be trained in using RTI and other empowering sources of knowledge and information. The project will also actively engage community youth through fellowships to work in their own communities as agents of change.
An integrated communication strategy will be developed to inform, enroll and engage people in the transformation of the M Ward program. The strategy will: Make visible the needs and demands of the people and give voice to the unheard; Mobilize people to create a shared vision; Change attitudes towards public education and health care systems; Enhance peoples’ faith in state and city governments; Promote people’s understanding of Public Sector Enterprises being factored in the overall program; Inform communities about government schemes and policies and their rights and entitlements; Make relevant information and knowledge available in the public domain; Train community youth to mobilize, record and monitor programs and help them to track and measure change.
The problem that hinders true development is not lack of resources, but the lack of equity and justice in the implementation and distribution of these resources. Government and municipal schemes meant for poor and marginalized communities must be made to reach the people. This project will strive to work with local politicians, government departments, BMC and MMRDA officials etc. to ensure that people have access to the resources meant for them. Communities will be given information on their rights and schemes through community resource centres. They will be empowered to stimulate demand and trained to access and control resources through successful negotiation with public service providers.
The attempt here will be to link community demands to convergent programs and schemes of GoM, BMC and Government of India, supported by PSEs. This would involve creating strong partnerships between these actors. MOUs between the PSEs, BMC and the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Hub at TISS and MOUs between PSEs and empanelled NGOs and Peoples’ Groups from the M-Ward will be the starting points of the project.he process will be directed at building capacity of the system and personnel to substantially improve the quality of service delivery. This will require building effective service delivery systems, use of information in decision-making and an active interface with the communities. TISS will facilitate this process through hand-holding where required and through creation of partnership frames.