Children and young people in Delhi have helped to design an innovative smartphone app as part of a research project that is helping to change lives in their communities. 

The first results of the young people’s work using the app to collect information across the city are delivering new toilet buildings – identified as a priority community need. 

The University of Birmingham and Humara Bachpan Campaign (HBC) are collaborating on a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that aims to map urban life in Delhi.  Humara Bachpan is a national campaign which aims to fill a gap in advocacy in India, focused on the living conditions of young children in urban poverty. 

They are working with young people in children’s clubs across 20 informal housing settlements in Delhi.  The young people helped to design the ‘Map My Community’ app tool, have completed training, and are now collecting data across the city.  


The project collects evidence about the experiences of children and young people in informal settlements across the city. It aims to influence city master plans, zonal development plans and urban development policies – leading to creation of child friendly cities. 

Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham, is leading the project.

She said: “Impacts are already emerging from this innovative way of working. For young people to see the benefits of their work, first-hand, in their community is really incredible.  Over the coming months, we will support children’s participation in urban planning and help them push for urban spaces which support young people’s lives.” 

Work has now begun on the construction of new toilets in Badarpur, New Delhi, after young people’s use of the ‘Map My Community’ app and children-led planning work enabled them to identify a need for such facilities. They used data collected from the project and problem analysis from HBC’s Children-led Planning process to submit a detailed charter of demands to the local authorities. The local authorities recently released government funds to re-build the public toilet.  

One of the young people taking part – a girl aged 14 – said: “This is the first time I have ever seen an application that pays attention to the problems faced by children and takes our views and opinions. Thank you!" 

Another – a boy, aged 13 – added: "The unique thing about this app is that it allows us to express our issues in an easy way." 

HBC and University of Birmingham researchers are collaborating on this project, which emerged from a larger-scale ESRC funded project on children and young people’s everyday experiences of Urban Transformation in India.  There are currently 150 child leaders from 20 communities across Delhi collecting data for the project.  


  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.  Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill and Dr. Cristiana Zara are working on the project.
  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  • The ESRC is funding this project through the Impact Acceleration Account.
  • Humara Bachpan Campaign (HBC) was founded by Dharitri Patnaik, the India Representative of Bernard van Leer Foundation. The campaign was launched in May 2013 and has spread to 17 states and 23 cities reaching out to 35,000 young children across India through 428 child clubs in 437 slums as of July 2015.
  • Children-Led Planning is a ten step process through which children analyse their situation, identify and prioritise issues, explore potential resources, identify stakeholders and come up with solutions for creating a neighbourhood and city which responds to their needs.

For more information or interviews, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or  +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.