Methodology and Objectives: Shared Action Learning

Working in informal settlements presents unique challenges that extend far beyond the distinctive cultural differences between American and South African cultures. Shared Action Learning (SAL) is a Cape Town Project Centre, action research oriented approach to help work within these complex issues by forming strong relationships and actively engaging all stakeholders of the project.

In settings where normal access to technology and other resources are not available, Shared Action Learning becomes especially prevalent.

The five processes of SAL are connecting, planning, acting, observing, and reporting with consideration of the social, cultural, and ecological context wherein the project is taking place. These processes are to happen simultaneously in order to facilitate deeper understanding (Jiusto, Hersh and Taylor 2012). We connected with our partners as suggested by SAL to determine what our project goals would be. Our sponsor asked the project group to focus on researching reblocking and informal settlements during the preparation phase of the project. Community connections, however,only occurred in person because community leaders could not be contacted during the preparation phase. For this reason our project objectives were not clearly defined before we arrived in Mtshini Wam, but instead developed over time using Shared Action Learning on the ground. Through these extensive cycles of the SAL process, the following objectives were created:

  • Understand the process of reblocking, the reasons for it and the benefits it provides
  • Create a guidebook to help improve the reblocking process
  • Implement community development projects in Mtshini Wam
  • Create a pamphlet for the community detailing the story of Mtshini Wam’s reblocking
  • Create certificates that accredit the skills reblocking workers developed.

Read about the Results of the Project.