An auxiliary service network to back-up the livability of neighborhoods by shifting gear to local resources when an emergency requires it.
Pune is the second largest city in India’s Maharashtra state and home to over 7 million people. Its local economy comprises of education, automobile manufacturing, and information technology (IT) sectors. The city is at the forefront of Open Data platform [ref] and digital services [ref] for its residents and businesses.
Kothrud-Bavdhan ward is located in West Pune, it is one among Pune's 15 administrative wards, and is home to more than 200,000 people [ref]. Kothrud-Bavdhan is subdivided into 3 sub-wards [ref]. The demographic is a mix of middle-class and student population.
During the recent pandemic, the ‘micro-containment zones’ strategy led Kothrud-Bavdhan ward to soon become a ‘green zone’ with no new coronavirus cases [ref]. This success rests on local officials following the health guidelines and the cooperation of the residents. Yet, the livelihood of many citizens was greatly affected [ref].
A post-covid city offers back-up of local resources for residents confined in micro-containment zones with co-benefits for ecosystems and biodiversity. It enriches nature in two ways, first by making ecosystem services visible to citizens involved as their custodians. Second, reducing the length of supply chains makes it easier to monitor their efficiency, as a temporary substitute to global sourcing that operates at the expense of vulnerable ecosystems [ref]. A radical transition can destabilise the existing socio-economic systems and can create new issues of justice. Our solution does not intend to replace the existing socio-economic system but illustrates the first step to offer a buffer for livelihood during the growing periods of emergency.
The Clutch Progam contributes to SDG 12 - responsible consumption and production | SDG 11 - sustainable cities and communities | SDG 17 - partnership for the goals.
Element of context - before / during covid
Let us look at the life of residents of Kothrud-Bavdhan ward before and during the micro-containment periods.
Mr. Raju (23 y.o.) is one among the 1 million university students of Pune. He lives in a dormitory shared with 4 others and studies engineering. After studies, he works part-time at a shopping mall to sustain himself. During the pandemic, he lacks a place to study and misses the additional earnings as the mall is shut down.
Mrs. Ila (35 y.o.) is a mother of 2 and lives in a small apartment. She occasionally prepares and sells sweets to acquaintances. Her husband is a shop floor worker in an automobile manufacturing company. During the pandemic, schools and manufactures closed down. The small apartment and uncertainties generated a stressful family atmosphere. Mrs. Ila looks for opportunities to socialise outside her household and support the family with additional incomes.
Mr. Sham (70 y.o.) is a retired bank employee. His children live overseas, and he lives on his pension by himself. He relies on a maid to cook food and clean his house. His social life revolves around volunteering at a nearby NGO that increases the IT literacy among elderlies. During the pandemic, the maid left for her hometown and Mr. Sham struggled to meet with everyday life necessities.
Mr. Lal (44 y.o.) is a daily wage worker who migrated from another Indian state. He rents a small house to live with his family of 5. His wife is a domestic helper. During the pandemic, they both lost their incomes.
Solution - how the innovation would work?
Clutch program is a public-private platform inventorying the skills, goods, spaces, ecosystem services, and production centres of the ward. It operates at the level of sub-wards (~2sq.km admin. units) and maintains a strong network with neighbouring sub-wards and farmlands. The Kothrud-Bavdhan ward works as a coordination hub, and a citizen assembly moderates its activities.
In regular times (outside the emergencies), public institutions, NGO and private stakeholders list their idle or surplus assets on the platform. For instance, schools enlist their front yards for productive urban gardens, kitchen spaces as food-labs, or school classrooms as co-working spaces fit for social-distancing norms. Individuals can rent spare space, unused goods, electric appliances, and provide delivery or caregiving services. Among others, sub-ward offices can enlist existing natural assets to look for custodians for these ecosystem services. NPO’s, as well, can contribute to this inventory and use it to coordinate their activities.
The platform capitalises on a volunteering economy and operates with a locally tradeable point system. The value of points varies outside and during emergencies.
As a steward for the platform, a citizen assembly is elected at the ward-level. Their role is to discuss the framework and assess the coordination work to propose updates in the Clutch Program's implementation plan. To voice their deliberation and concerns, the assembly has access to social and media channels. The assembly term is 6 months and is renewed by half every 3 months.
The coordination work is done at Kothrud-Bavdhan ward level. Kothrud-Bavdhan maintains an official record of the inventory and holds the right to suspend actors from providing or consuming services through the platform. The ward is the one relevant to activate and terminate the emergency mechanism.
In case of emergency, the platform is open to all registered citizens. The point system is changed so that each asset’s value is halved while each contribution is doubled. In doing so, the platform operates as an auxiliary coordination market: it incentivises local consumption and production networks while strengthening the community livelihood.
The Clutch Program onboards research institutes and universities to co-define key indicators to monitor the platform’s efficiency and fairness. The platform design will allow collecting online and offline data about the volunteering activities and behaviours.
In an emergency situation, the Clutch Program increases the resilience of the residents’ livelihood. Beyond situations of emergency, the envisioned model nurtures the local production and consumption loops.
The Clutch program integrates informal assets and networks into a more transparent and trustworthy auxiliary system. It enables to sustain volunteering activities in normal times without competing with the market economy and scale up these socio-economic services in emergency times.
By onboarding local public institutions and populations, the Clutch program contribute to raising the awareness about social and natural ecosystem services.
Limitations & prerequisites
The Clutch program requires trust among participants and liability over the assets.
Foreseeable changes: Resistance to change, preference to be a consumer.
Safeguard: To keep the network active, multiple functions and having an emergency and non-emergency existence is essential.
Who will take these actions?
Ward office, sub-ward office
Small businesses, in particular food and hospitality
Local NGO (like Pune Green Feet / Action for Pune Development)
Educational institutions - University, colleges, and schools
Plant nursery - agricultural university
What are the projected costs?
80,000$ for 1year pilot project
- Identify and engage multiple stakeholders, co-develop and undertake trust-building activities -- 5,000$. It includes 5 workshops with key stakeholders and citizens and online engagement
- Define the rules & roles of the citizen assembly, the framework around the ‘state of emergency’ - start/end - and the indicators to monitor the impacts -- 10,000$ to organize 5 work sessions with university scholars and key stakeholders
- Build an MVP for the multi-platform inventory (online and offline) 45,000$
- Engage local NPO & public servants to relay the initiative -- non-monetary honorarium
- Media partner activity to maintain the momentum beside the platform activity -- to be discussed
- Stewarding the pilot project with a project team of 5 -- 15,000$ to cover the travel expenses, facilities, and workdays.
- Administrative work and other costs -- 5000$.
Short-term: Neighbourhood pilot project in Kothrud-Bavdhan that has mixed demographics. Key activities include inventory mapping, community trust-building exercises, and inventory rating.
Long-term: Extend the work with universities and researchers to refine the point system and the key metrics, add a local currency scheme to sustain the momentum, and further engage locals.
About the author(s)
Aditi Khodke is an architect who works as a researcher on sustainable production and consumption systems. The two questions that spur her interest are how to make the built environment resilient to changing climate and how to make the transitions in the built environment inclusive.
Marc Chataigner is trained as a service designer. His interest lies in how system design can contribute to developing actors’ agency. He is currently a PhD student at Kyoto University, where he is researching the potential and limits of peer-to-peer economy organisational forms.