Our work in India dates back to 1992 and has recently focused increasingly on advocacy: the Humara Bachpan (“childhood matters”) campaign has spurred local governments across the country to improve children’s living conditions, while the state government of Odisha has supported scaling up models developed by our partners for mother tongue-based early childhood education in tribal areas.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 programme evolved from our recent work in India. The country has become a global focus for urban policy, due to its goal of building 100 “smart cities” and the expected high rate of urbanisation in the coming years: still less than a third of the country’s 1.25 billion population lives in cities.

We are supporting Bhubaneswar’s goal of becoming the first child- and family-friendly city in India, gaining experience that can be applied in other regions. Our ongoing partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a think tank which guides government policy, further enables the dissemination of knowledge about how to engage in city planning from a young child’s perspective.


A few examples of partnerships in India:

The Humara Bachpan Campaign enables children themselves to take the lead in advocating for healthier and safer living conditions for young children growing up in urban poverty across India.

After supporting NGOs to test models of mother tongue-based early learning in Odisha, we are working with the state government’s Ministry of Women and Child Development to take the programme to scale.

The Bhubaneswar Development Authority has set up a Child-Friendly Smart City Centre, with the National Institute of Urban Affairs, as it starts to transform the city’s slums into child-friendly planned neighbourhoods.