The Call Your Corporator campaign began as a response to the decision of the Bangalore government to have the covid response decentralized to a ward level. Ward corporators were required to hold ward committee meetings every Monday to discuss strategies to contain the spread of the pandemic in their respective wards. The last time such meetings were required only a third of corporators held them. It was critical that these meetings happen given the severity of the covid crises.
step one: planning
We wanted to take a decentralized approach, having young people call corporators in their own wards. There were two reasons for this approach. First, corporators were less likely to brush off young citizens. Second, this would be an opportunity for many young people to learn more about their local government - they would now know what ward they lived in, who their corporator was, and have a real experience with a public official replace any abstract notion of “the government”.
Reap Benefit had already built a chatbot that many young citizens were using. We decided to deploy this project through that same medium. To do this, we created a three step process. First, we would prompt the individual to figure out which ward they were in, and tell them the name and number of their corporator. Second, they’d be sent a script of exactly what to say (written both in English and Kannada) to make thing frictionless. Finally, they were prompted to report their findings, including the specifics of where they meeting would be held.
step two: deploying
Once we’d built the chatbot script, we deployed it.
To maximise reach we messaged people in whatsapp groups and ask them to check out the campaign, so that non-active users of the chatbot would also try it. We also used engaging digital posters to encourage people to take part.
Once people did the calls, they reported the meeting details which we compiled and shared as a public document for all citzens to access. We also encouraged sharing meeting details in local whatsapp groups to encourage public partuicpation at a ward level.
step three: scaling
48 people took part in all. They called all 198 corporators of the city to ask them about the meeting. After the campaign 128 corporators (~60%) conducted meetings the following week, a record for the city. Those who took part in the campaign report feeling empowered and having a new view of government. For many of the particpants in the campaign, this was the first engagement with a local official.
The success of this method in Bengaluru can be replicated in cities across India. We are now making an effort to package our process so others can run with this in different cities. If you would like to replicate this effort in your city, please contact us. You can also whatsapp message “CYC” to the chatbot at 9513607460 to see the script in action yourself.