MHT Samvad App

MHT Samvad App

MHT Samvad App
June 24, 2021adminBlog, Featured NewsNo Comments
MHT Samvad App
Digital Technologies for Participatory governance and planning

Application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the governed, governing, MHT’s local-level women-leaders who connect the both; for exchange of information, addressing the problems, delivery of services; serve as an accelerator to make the participatory governance process more effective.

MHT and Participatory Governance
The Government of India mandates participatory local governance through the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (74th CAA). MHT amplifies the voice and agency of poor women from slums who have exhibited exemplar abilities to address habitat issues in their own communities to engage with and influence key city-level decision-making processes including city & local area planning, budgeting for development works, and governance and service delivery processes.

MHT’s Vikasinis
The term Vikasini is a local feminine connotation meaning ‘carriers of development’. They are women leaders from slum communities who have been imparted gender-focused training equipping them with fundamental knowledge and required skills to engage in city level governance and planning processes. These women engage in various activities for betterment of their communities, takes efforts in improving the access to government services in slum communities and also influences urban policies and plans that affects quality of life.

Bindiya Patel, Programme Manager, MHT explains more, “Vikasinis do not only engage in paper work or data collection, but they are also equipped with skills to use technology in their work. For instance, if an area requires public transportation or aanganwadis, they not only just put forth their demands to the government but also put forth background research and mapping to explain the issue in detail and possible solutions to it. Considering the limited resources and huge work responsibilities on the officers, reaching out to the entire ward gets difficult for the councillors. Hence, Vikasinis can provide support to the ward councilors for mapping exercises for need assessments. When the Vikasinis showcases the issues along with mapping, it makes work easier for the government officers as they don’t have to invest additional resources on the ground for cross-verifying and conducting need assessments/mapping. Hence, the numbers of visits that government officers need to make, might reduce from let’s say 10 to just a single visit. This would increase the efficiency of work and reduce delays in implementation. Hence, the government officers can also reach out to Vikasinis for works which include use of technologies.”

Why Samvad App?
There is lack of awareness amongst the citizens and law makers regarding the presence of Vikasinis/women leaders who work for the betterment of informal settlements and related urban development. Hence, the need of an online platform was brought up by vikasinis to increase their visibility.

There was a need felt for an online platform which can enable daily communication amongst them rather than meeting once a month for sharing their activities, experiences and learnings.

Online platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook are being used by Vikasinis, however, customization was required to tailor effective communication amongst them.

MHT Samvad App
‘Samvad’ means dialogue. This app is envisioned to be a platform for constructive dialogue between Vikasinis/women leaders, government officials and citizens.

MHT with support from Commonwealth Foundation launched ‘MHT Samvad’ a mobile application, in June 2021.
Photo caption: App launched by Sneha Parmar and Sonal Thaker, Ward Councillors, Vasna Ward, AMC and CK Kharadi, Deputy City Engineer, North Zone, AMC alongwith MHT staff.
L to R: Konica Udhani, Siraz Hirani, Hasumati Solanki, Sneha Parmar, Sonal Thaker , C k Kharadi, Binidya Patel
Photo caption: App launched by Sneha Parmar and Sonal Thaker, Ward Councillors, Vasna Ward, AMC and CK Kharadi, Deputy City Engineer, North Zone, AMC alongwith MHT staff.
L to R: Konica Udhani, Siraz Hirani, Hasumati Solanki, Sneha Parmar, Sonal Thaker , C k Kharadi, Binidya Patel

Photo Caption: Konica Udhani, MHT demonstrating features of the app

Photo Caption: Vibha Gondaliya, MHT giving an app tour to the attendees: Amdavad Muncipal Corportion (AMC) officials, MHT staff and Vikasini during the app-launch meet

Siraz Hirani, Senior Programme Management Specialist, MHT shares, “It is important to be digitally literate. This app is not to replace or stop the regular meetings. At times when it is difficult to meet each other, we can post our queries and issues on this platform and use this as an alternate mode of communication.” He added, “This application will only be successful if more and more people start using it.”

The app provides information about women leaders and allows the citizens/government officials to approach the Vikasinis for any kind of assistance, or support.

Key features of this app:

-Discussion forum: Enables Vikasinis to discussThe app will efficiently demonstrate how women leaders can serve as role models in their communities, thus inspiring more women and girls to come forward and fully participate in the social, economic and political opportunities that cities have to offer, thus facilitating a ‘cascading change’ at the grassroots, and in general in attitudes regarding women’s participation in India.

COVID-19 and this app. How will this app help?
Government officers can take assistance of women leaders in increasing the awareness about COVID-19, distribution of relief materials like cooked food, ration kits, immunity kits, etc., for increasing the uptake of vaccination in slums by spreading awareness and facilitating registrations.

It could also enable vikasinis to share and collate the need assessment of COVID-19 relief materials and other issues faced by slum dwellers. Vikasinis, through this platform can help each other in arranging relief materials from various entities like government, NGOs, private individuals.

Why should citizens download this app?
This platform opens doors for citizens to approach any vikasini/women leader for any support or assistance for any needs/demands regarding their living conditions.
While the Vikasinis will respond to the query in their individual capacity, they can also assist citizens to speak with concerned government officials for resolving their queries or issues and help them connect to the officers.

Why should government officials download this app?
Government officials can take help of these women leaders for planning, formulating or for implementing any interventions/programmes. The women leaders can help mobilize communities regarding any schemes/policies, spread awareness, conduct surveys or mapping exercises, use their local-leadership influence for easier implementation of any intervention and likewise to provide any required support to the government officers. This would enhance public participation in the governance processes.

CK Kharadi – Deputy City Engineer, North Zone, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation opined, “It seems that this app will be successful in what it is aiming. Whenever the government officials receive certain projects, conducting surveys is one of its components. It is very tedious which arises the question of who can really do it on the ground. Creating a network of Vikasinis through this app will definitely can solve this problem and conduct surveys efficiently. This app can be definitely be used to implement any upcoming projects”

Sneha Parmar – Ward Councillor, Vasna Ward , AMC shared, “The citizens would definitely get access to more services through this app, but it is also important for others to be aware about this app and how to use it. Hence, it would be useful if Vikasinis could share details about the app launch, aim of the app and its features to wards in which they work.”

How will this app serve as a unique platform for Vikasinis ?
Dipikaben Malek, a Vikasini at MHT said, “I come from a slum community. I have been taught technology and this mobile application which has been launched today would be very useful to me as I can share my queries, needs, issues of my slum with all other vikasinis/staff and they would help me resolve them, which would result in improvements in informal settlements”

1)Enhanced Communication: Creating a network of such women leaders through a social media platform will allow the Vikasinis/women leaders to be connected with each other to
-Share and exchange their activities with one another
-Discuss solutions to difficulties they are facing
-Enhanced communication between MHT and Vikasinis/women leaders
-Enables ease in communication especially during crisis like COVID-19, where direct communication is not feasible

2)Peer learning: This platform would bridge the communication and information gap amongst Vikasinis or women leaders by giving them an opportunity to share knowledge and learnings gained regarding different governance processes, access to schemes, reading materials, etc. Fellow Vikasinis/women leaders can learn from each others’ experiences.

3)Making them techno-savvy: Inculcation of the use of digital technology in the work done by Vikasinis/women leaders will in turn result in:
-Increased technological awareness
-Greater efficiency owing to improved communication amongst the vikasinis
-User friendly even for semi-literate women leaders where they can conveniently use the app for conveying messages using voice options
-Showing their work to the government officers in detail using the app increases their credibility

Photo Caption: Vikasinis posing with a dummy home-screen of the app, post the launch. (The mask was removed for photograph only)

Download this app on your android-based smart phone and mark your presence on MHT Samvad App for participatory governance process.

Blog Courtesy: Konica Udhani.

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