Neighbourhoods fit for diverse young people: civic media practices and urban claims-making in Nepal and India

The capacity of diverse young people to collectively use civic media to make claims on and influence urban governance is being strengthened in two cities in Nepal and India.

January 2024 – February 2026
Camila Cociña

Researcher (housing justice), Human Settlements research group

Housing justice
A programme of work producing knowledge and methodologies for housing policy and initiatives that promote wellbeing and sustainability in cities of the global South
Two people stand in an outside area, surrounded by seated youngsters in a semi-circle.

Young people discuss media tools during a workshop (Photo: Lumanti Joshi)

Many grassroots groups are using media tools as a key aspect of their advocacy and collective mobilisation: in other words, civic media. 

Emerging digital tools and platforms have created new possibilities for citizen participation and are shaping the urban experiences of many, particularly the young. However, there are many disparities in terms of digital literacy, infrastructure, the media landscape, and social and cultural norms. 

These can create barriers and reinforce inequalities across gender, ethnicity, age and caste, among others. 

This action-research project sees IIED working with NGOs and grassroots groups in the cities of Dharan in Nepal and Bhuj in India, as well as with the regional network of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR).

The partners will explore how diverse groups of young people can use civic media technologies to enable meaningful and equitable participation as ‘urban citizens’ towards ‘neighbourhoods fit for young people’.

In each city, a series of ‘civic media labs’ are being created with youth groups. Following a methodology that IIED has already advanced in Lagos and São Paulo, the project will document these labs and support local partners to ensure the labs have a meaningful impact.

What is IIED doing?

The research will be led by the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with academic institutions in Nepal and India, while local NGOs will implement the labs. IIED will support the project’s team by leading two areas: 

  • Policy impact, supporting the process of consolidating learning, scaling out, and policy uptake of the project. We will do this by convening workshops and exchanges with regional and international organisations and networks, as well as by producing impact strategies at different scales, policy papers and other impact outputs. 
  • Civic media, supporting the design of the labs’ methodology and implementation, and the production, documentation and organisation of civic media training materials, methods and approaches. 

Across both areas, IIED will produce an online toolbox of civic media practices. This will be used to document the pedagogical process, methods and lessons around embedding digital strategies into more democratic urban processes such as claims-making. This platform will also allow the project to connect with other initiatives addressing similar issues. 

The project’s overall aim is to enhance youth groups’ civic and digital literacy and their confidence. It should also:

  • Enhance their capacity to interact with local governance
  • Help to develop replicable ‘civic media methodologies’ that can create solidarity across different groups
  • Promote enhanced pathways for youth participation in governance locally and globally, and 
  • Advance a ‘global community of practice’ in civic media.