This new report shares the preliminary findings of Mobile-Based Participatory Survey with Adolescents in Gurugram, India.

Reaping the benefits of India’s demographic dividend will be central to India’s economic development, but the largest generation of young people in human history faces enormous challenges towards realising their potential to contribute to the growth story. The Lancet Commission report titled, ‘Our Future’ had identified ‘adolescence’ as a “critical phase in life for achieving human potential” and concluded by recommending that only substantial investments in improving adolescent health and well-being would aid in India’s progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

But how does one generate evidence into priority areas of public policy that will ensure holistic development of adolescents, especially those belonging to marginalised communities? Drawing upon PRIA’s prior experience of engaging with youth, the research titled ‘Our Health, Our Voice’ seeks to advance the use of participatory research methodology into the thematic area of adolescent health. Through active participation of adolescent boys and girls living in urban informal settlements in Gurugram, a thriving satellite city of New Delhi in India, the research seeks to generate evidence on the health conditions of adolescents – seen from their eyes, and raising their voice on those health concerns that they are most vulnerable to. How do they seek and use health-related information? Which public health policies and program interventions do they think promote ‘adolescent friendly’ health.

This participatory research is a collaborative process with adolescents, the local university, care-givers, grassroots health workers, city (municipal) officials, and policy makers. On the demand side are the adolescents and their care givers (parents), and on the supply side is the health system – the National Health Mission (NHM), and the flagship Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), under which Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics (AFHC) are to be set up.

The research uses a series of participatory tools – transect walk, mobile-based participatory survey, Focus Group Discussions and multi-stakeholder dialogues – involving adolescent boys and girls in all stages of the research process to understand their healthcare-seeking behaviour, the accessibility to health services, and the extent of utilisation of AFHCs. Their inputs have helped shape the questions in the survey questionnaire, analysis of the data is shared in meetings with them and the community, their insights are central in the group discussions that generate community demand for health services, and their interactions with government officials and health workers in multi-stakeholder dialogues will help find a way forward for action that results in improving adolescent-friendly health services.

This report presents the preliminary findings from the survey questionnaire that was administered to 330 adolescents aged between 10 and 19 years, of which 141 (42%) were boys and 189 (58%) were girls. Questions related to their awareness on sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, menstrual hygiene, health-related problems such as drug and substance abuse, and health-seeking behaviour. Data on other indirect indicators that affect health, such as sanitation, water supply, and living conditions in their houses, was also collected. The survey was conducted in five informal settlements (Sikanderpur, Ghata, Harijan Basti, Chakkarpur and Nathupur) in Gurugram in February 2021.

This research project ‘Healthy Cities for Adolescents: Participatory Research in Gurugram, Haryana, India’ was funded by the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC)’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund. SHLC is funded via UK Research and Innovation as part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.