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Enabling transformation through information in Ranchi

Many of the urban poor live in unplanned settlements and work in the informal sector. Very often, no record of their homes or workplaces is found on government or official datasets. This lack of information is one important reason why many low-income city residents do not have access to basic services: governments do not have the information they need to plan for the poor and residents do not have the information they need to hold government accountable for providing services.


With the government’s increasing emphasis on data-driven planning, there is an opportunity now to create greater awareness about the impacts of data gaps about the urban poor, and to build capacity in civil society organisations, communities, and government actors to proactively plan for the informal sector, especially taking advantage of widely available and cheap mapping and data collection technologies, as well as participatory methodologies. In response to this context, the Transparent Cities Network aims to create maps, data, and research about neglected civic issues in partnership with residents and governments. In this proposed project, we will work with Mahila Housing Trust in Ranchi, Jharkhand. It is premised on our experience that better information about the poor and those in the informal sector will lead to more informed and targeted interventions by the government, more effective advocacy by the poor, and improved governance outcomes for low-income city residents.

TCN aims to create maps, data, and research about neglected civic issues in partnership with communities and city governments. Our approach will combine modern cartography and information communication technology with participatory methods to capture and represent the rich, spatial knowledge that communities hold.

The key issues that the proposed project will address are:

  • Lack of access to basic services, housing, and land rights and tenure security for the urban poor;

  • Lack of data about the urban poor that accurately captures access to basic services, and that can be used for planning, service provision, monitoring, and holding government accountable for improvements over time;

  • Lack of tools, methods, technologies for data collection and accountability appropriate for cities with large informal populations;

  • Low capacity among citizens and government to use data for planning and monitoring; and

  • Lack of substantive citizen participation in planning and monitoring of basic services.

Our proposed intervention can be seen to lead to three interrelated impacts on the environment for advocacy.

  • Improved outcomes with respect to water, sanitation, housing and land rights; positive application of laws and procedures to enable land rights and tenure security;

  • Communities have the capacity to generate and process data, use it in data-related decision making, and take data-related actions;

  • Awareness and sensitisation of government and media on inequalities; and

  • Ability of community leaders to use data and maps when they participate in democratic processes and institutional mechanisms.