By Anand Sahasranaman, IFMR Finance Foundation
High-quality access to financial services is important not only for households and enterprises, but also for cities and Panchayats so that they have the ability to undertake projects that provide essential goods and utilities to citizens. This is especially crucial for several emerging/small cities in India that will experience very high rates of growth in the coming years due to the overall urbanisation trend and will need to supplement their resource base. IFMR Finance Foundation has launched an initiative (Financial Access for Small Cities) that is focused on the town of Srirangapatna in Mandya district of Karnataka, India. The objective of this partnership is to develop a long-term vision for infrastructure development in Srirangapatna and design sustainable financing mechanisms for the same. We hope this will provide a template for other small cities as well.
We are in the process of drawing out a long-term vision for the city in partnership with citizens and the local government – specifically focusing on issues of land, water and housing. Our engagement with the city is a deeply participatory process, with involvement of local citizens, community groups, businesses, slum residents, students and others. At the conclusion of this phase of local engagement, we expect to be able to derive a unified vision for the future of Srirangapatna – as articulated by local stakeholders.
The objective of the second phase is to design and sustainably finance public infrastructure projects in the areas of land, water and housing that are derived from this unified long-term vision. These projects are envisioned to be in the nature of ‘minimal’ investments that the city will need to make today, in order to be reasonably prepared for the coming urbanisation. This will enable a planned approach to urbanisation without having to constantly play catch-up – as is the case in our larger cities today. We will also work with the city in raising finance for projects that emerge out of this initiative.
We will be showcasing this initiative at our “Financing Small Cities” blog, which will chart our work over time. Our intention is for this blog to become a forum for rich discussions between citizens, policy makers, researchers and practitioners involved in urban infrastructure and financing issues.
The blog is at: http://financingcities.ifmr.co.in/.
We look forward to your ideas, thoughts and comments as we proceed with this work.