Interview Methodology

Interviews are a key resource for primary information when on the ground in Cape Town. In the first round of interviews we specifically want to speak with our CORC liaisons, Sizwe Mxobo, then our co-researchers. In order to do further interviews, it is necessary for these to be the first interviews conducted so that we not only have a base knowledge of our project, but also a deeper cultural understanding of Joe Slovo Park. Direction will be gained from these key informants on the second round of interviews, which could include the community, NGOs involved with our project, governmental groups and, if time permits, NGOs not directly involved with our project.

There is a lot to be learned through interpersonal relationships, especially when dealing with projects based in informal settlements and a high diversity of invested stakeholders. Language and cultural differences are challenges that every project centre must consider, but the Cape Town Project Centre approaches a unique solution by incorporating co-researchers as members of the project team. Our interview methodology utilises co-researchers as invaluable team members due to their connection to the community, and understanding of the culture and multilingual abilities. That being said, the co-researchers are not just translators; it is an implicit goal of the project group to create a positive rapport with these new team members with the hopes that the relationship will later translate to the community members through co-researcher interaction in an interview setting.

There is an intrinsic cultural difference between our project team and the community we are trying to support which entails different language but also different social dynamics. For instance, in interviews, it is important to think through all implications of a question, as what might be viewed as simple data collection to us, may be a sensitive issue to the interviewee. Maintaining an understanding and non-biased attitude when interviewing will help us ensure an open-mind and sensitive attitude. It is important to be responsive, not intrusive, with our questions and actions, which is why the co-researchers are invaluable assets to our work in Joe Slovo Park.

Importance of Ethics


Sizwe is one of our CORC liaisons along with Adi Kumar from CORC. He will serve as a valuable resource on information about Joe Slovo Park particularly Mshini Wam in the next few weeks before we go to Cape Town and while we’re on the ground. Through our correspondence with him thus far, he has informed us about some possible project opportunities, which is crucial information to direct our research in the coming weeks.

  • Introductions:
    • Tell us a little bit about yourself.
    • How did you get involved with CORC and informal settlement upgrading?
    • Joe Slovo/ Mshini Wam
      • What is Joe Slovo Park like physically/socially?
      • Paint the scene of Joe Slovo as best as you can.
      • Where are the new homes being moved out of Mishini Wam?
      • Current Situation
        • What is the general atmosphere of the community in regards to the upgrading process?
        • How has working with the different stakeholders been?
          • What challenges have appeared?
          • Also what new “doors” have opened up due to the partnerships?
  • What do you think slows down the process of government involvement in informal settlement upgrading?
    • Do you have any suggestions for where to find information about their processes?
    • Our involvement
      • How do you envision us being involved in this process and what do you hope for us to accomplish?
      • How do you envision our first week in Joe Slovo?


Co-researchers are crucial to our interaction with most everyone listed below for interviewing. It’s imperative that we establish a strong relationship with our co-researchers and a work rapport, both will set the tone of our project in Joe Slovo. They will be among some of the first people we will be interacting with in Joe Slovo Park, and we must establish relationships with our co-researchers before we begin interviewing community members. We assume that our co-researchers will be conducting most, if not every, interview we will have with community members due to the Xhosa/English language barrier. These are among the reasons why our interviews with our co-researchers will be some of the most important interviews we will have in our time in Joe Slovo Park.

  • Introductions:
    • Tell us about yourself.
    • How did you get involved with our project?
    • What is role within the community?
    • How do you like to spend your free time? (potentially they could show us how they have fun or their favourite places in Joe Slovo Park, we could spend more time on this before we get to more business like questions)
    • Community:
      • How would you describe the personality of the Joe Slovo Park community?
        • Are there multiple groups with differing personalities? If so, describe the different groups.
  • What assets does the community have, things that are already in place to build upon?
  • Where do you think that the community has room to improve?
    • Crime, leadership, motivation, etc.
    • Joe Slovo
      • How have you been involved in the reblocking process?
      • What do you think still needs to be done?
      • What went well with the reblocking and what could have gone better?
      • What did they NGOs (CORC, ISN) do well? What could they have done better?
      • What did they City of Cape Town do well? What could they have done better?
      • What types of water and sanitation facilities would be ideal for the community?
        • 1 tap and toilet per family, or small clusters using a few taps and toilets
  • Has the community considered densification? Meaning two story homes.


Our sponsor, CORC, and the groups working in collaboration with them, aim to conduct community driven upgrading processes. In order to fully understand the process of informal settlement upgrade in Joe Slovo Park, we must interview the community members of Joe Slovo themselves. Through our interviews we will be able to better understand the culture, which will help us to identify the wants and needs of the community members in the upgrading process.

  • Background Info
    • Name, where from, how long have they been in Mshini Wam
    • Were/ are you involved in the reblocking process?
      • Opinions/thoughts?
      • How many family members live with you?
      • How important is the location of your home?
      • Have you considered two story homes?
      • Hard services (water and sanitation, taps:
        • Which are most useful?
        • Safety?
        • How important is a single family tap and toilet? Have you considered groups taps/toilets with a few families as an equal or lesser option?
        • What assets do the community possess?
        • Could you recommend someone for us to talk to?
        • Community activities? What is needed from a Community Centre?

NGOs involved with our project (CORC, ISN, SDI, FEDUP)

Interviewing the NGO’s directly involved with our project is a clear starting point. They will be able to explain their philosophies and competencies in a way that makes most sense in context with our project. We will also be able to begin assessing their strategies and where we fit into to the organisations with more accuracy.

  • How has it been working with the City of Cape Town, Community (Joe Slovo Park  specifically)?
  • How did your organisation come to the conclusion that involving the community was so important?
  • What specifically does your organisation bring to the upgrading process?
  • How do you motivate community members?
  • How do you acquire funding for your projects?
  • How do you involve the government?
  • What are the difficulties working with the government?
  • What stipulations has the government put on your work in informal settlements?
  • How can the government improve their efficiency in their work in JSP?

The City of Cape Town Municipality

The City of Cape Town Municipality refers to a web of departments and people, often more closely focusing on those involved in policies regarding informal settlements in any capacity. These people and entities are responsible for facilitating, supporting and financing many aspects of informal settlement upgrading but present unique challenges and opportunities in the partnership we will become a part of. It is important to interview people within this system to deepen our understanding of how they work. Our understanding of and ability to communicate government objectives and process is a vital piece of our work in supporting the community’s drive to upgrade.

  • How does the city feel about the progress so far in Joe Slovo Park?
  • Does it have issues with the process?
  • What would make the relationship even smoother?
  • What promises have been made with the Joe Slovo Park community?
  • How do you intend to uphold these promises?
  • Are these relationships sustainable and long term?
  • How is service provided, or just funding?
    • How do you feel about the community taking the lead role in the process

NGOs not involved with our project (Social Justice Coalition, Development Action Group)

We want to interview NGO’s not involved in our project in order to gain a different perspective on the informal settlement improvement process. This idea is in line with the SDI’s goal of sharing knowledge and experience among those involved in this type of work. By speaking with these NGO’s we can serve as another channel for this exchange.

  • What is group’s mission or vision for informal settlement upgrading processes?
  • What is your model for informal settlement upgrading?
  • What are your successes, challenges in the informal settlement upgrading process?
  • Are you familiar with the work being done in Joe Slovo Park and the organisations involved?
  • What do you think of the work being done by the organisations?
  • Do you have any plans to get involved in the process yourself?
  • In the past, how have you been able to best motivate community members?
  • What problems do you see with service provision in informal settlements?
  • How can the government improve their process?