Project Philosophy

Participatory Development and

Adaptation Process


This project represents a new approach to the community upgrading process due to the unique parameters it followed. Working within a tight time frame while forming new relationships between a multitude of partners forced us to find a balance between differing philosophies and strategies on the way objectives would be accomplished. Given these parameters, what emerged is, what we call, a Participatory Development and Adaptation Process (PDAP).

This process draws from the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and Shared Action Learning (SAL) project philosophies. The ABCD approach works to connect with a community, assess their preexisting assets, and utilize these strengths to solve an existing problem (“The Asset-Based Community Development Institute,” 2009). This methodology goes hand in hand with the SAL technique, which approaches challenges through the iterative process of connecting, planning, acting, observing, and reporting (Jiusto, 2012). Combining these philosophies, we developed the framework for a multi-stakeholder, community-driven participatory design and construction process.

PDAP involved all partners in an improvisational design and construction process that sought to best utilize each partners’ assets and expertise. As problems arose, liaisons from each partner organization and community members would meet on-site to determine solutions to key design details. There were several instances where we had to work in areas we were not expert in, forcing us to strategize improvisational methods to push progress efforts forward. After each meeting, the design and financial plans were updated to reflect the new information. This ensured all partners and community members were provided accurate documents allowing them to track the progress toward assuring the budget was on track and designs reflected the agreed decisions. Construction projects in informal settlements rarely proceed on schedule, yet despite a challenging calendar, the project came in largely on time and within budget.


The Asset-Based Community Development Institute. (2009). 2014, from

Jiusto S., Hersh B., Taylor S. (2012). Cape Town Project Centre | What is Shared Action Learning?