Amanda Realises the Importance of Documentation


Many different communication issues became apparent throughout today’s meeting between the Municipality, the working group members, the WPI students and advisors, and the Langrug community leaders.  After the meeting was finished, the WPI students and advisors, and the working group members and leaders debriefed the meeting to discuss the frustration and tension between the community and the municipality.

Cast of Characters

Working group members, the WPI students and advisors, and the Langrug community leaders.


Wendy house


When the debriefing first began, many of the community members were extremely frustrated from the meeting that had just taken place. The working team felt like they had expressed their concerns with the municipality many times, over and over again and could not figure out why they had not seen any progress or results. The major communication gap between the community and the municipality was partially due to the difference in which each party expresses and presents their ideas. The working team members had been expressing their ideas and concerns verbally to the municipality, which is currently the main method used within the informal settlement. The municipality was not viewing this as proper communication, as they were expecting formal documentation.

Many people, particularly students, are used to doing presentations and writing up papers and emails as a means of expressing ideas. In a way it can be a second nature, so it is often forgotten that for other people, such as the working team, documenting ideas through writing does not come naturally. The working group members were hesitant about the idea of writing up a proposal for the multipurpose centre, because they felt that they had expressed their needs to the municipality many times. They admitted that they had not tried putting their ideas in to written words, and when they reached the realization that doing so may be a more effective way of communicating these needs for the municipality, they really warmed up to the idea.

Amanda’s revelation about the means of communicating was especially inspiring. She was able to realise that using a different method may help the community to express their ideas in a better way. After she realised this, she gave us positive feedback on the idea.

Reflection and Learning

The moment where Amanda began to understand where we were coming from helped to make great progress for the project. It revealed the differences between the WPI group, the Municipality and the working team in approaches. It also showed the importance of having liaisons working with informal settlement communities. This was an important point for the community to realize that writing things down is essential to the success of multi-stakeholder projects. Hopefully the community will use this realization to help them create successful future projects after the WPI group has left.