Because of the deep seeded instincts developed from the Apartheid history of South Africa, many informal communities are hesitant to trust the aid of unknown outside parties. Before the Institutional Review Board (IRB), impoverished peoples were taken advantage of by corporations and government bodies with the excuse that the benefits of society over arch the risks of the individual.  During the Apartheid era, non-white people were stripped of their rights, land, and employment and forced into low income townships with poor living conditions. From this, many South Africans developed a stigma against change in the form of aid or resettlement.  In preparation of encountering the cultural and social differences in South Africa, many ethical considerations were taken into account so our team could fully understand the effects of our project on all parties involved.  When working with the community leaders in Flamingo Crescent, we not only established a trusting relationship, but we also ensured a standard of ethics that protects the rights of all human subjects.

In mind of our ethical obligations as researchers, we ensured that all participants were treated with respect and given the ability to make their own decisions in all aspects of our project.  Community leaders and other participating members of the community were made aware of our purpose and objectives. Additionally, all members were made aware and consented of changes made to the community.

When profiling members of the community, we ensured informed consent.  Participants were made aware of how the information was used, who may see it, and were given the opportunity to review and edit or retract any statements. All confidential information collected for the use of the project was kept private.  All photographs of the community infrastructure and residents as well as city field officers and co-researchers were approved before being published.

Informal settlement upgrading can be a delicate subject in that through offering aid, we are implying the need of the community.  In the entire upgrading process, we maintained our ethical obligation to bettering the standard of life of participating community members, while not implying favoritism or insult or forcing the participation of disinterested parties.

For more information on the WPI Institutional Review Board please click here