Objectives and Participatory Processes

Objective 1: Connect with community members to identify their needs and develop plans to initiate the upgrading process.

This objective was met in the following ways:


During week one, the WPI team toured K2 and gained insight from community leaders on their day to day activities. Afterwards, we met with six other community members who formed our co-researcher team. Through name games and other activities, we started to get to know each other better. Still, during week three, we felt that we were not a cohesive team. For that reason, we used “fun as a methodology” and introduced some activities to take a break from planning. The games used were called “Step over the Line” and “Which One is Better.” Afterwards, we asked community members of K2 to lead us in games they usually play, this got us moving, cheering, and laughing. This helped our team engage with our co-researchers and have more open communication.

 Identifying Community Needs

K2 had been working with CORC and ISN since the beginning of 2015. Through their partnership, the community had already started thinking about ways to improve K2. From our first week in K2, our co-researchers prioritized the need for a community hall. Its primary use would be community meetings, but it can also be used for other community events and programmes such as early childhood development, a church, a library, and an Internet café. Other improvement ideas included a gardening initiative, a sports facility, and the decentralization of toilets. In order to focus the project, our team and K2 community members looked at aspects such as feasibility, impact on the community, costs, and project timeframe.


Objective 2: Ensure community members are the main drivers of the project and receive support from major stakeholders using Shared Action Learning (SAL)

Drawing from past WPI upgrading projects, the team learned that the active participation of community members was important to advance the project forward and aim for sustainability. To meet this objective our team made use of SAL, which aims to help stakeholders engage with each other to accomplish the common goal of sustainable community development through the practice of exchanging ideas and resources. SAL intends to promote growth through reflection and collaboration rather than adhering to a predetermined plan (Hersh, Jiusto & Taylor, 2014). It has five key steps that occur simultaneously and continuously throughout the duration of the project.  These steps are connect, plan, act, observe, and report, all of which consider the larger social, cultural, and ecological project context. These key principles are used so that the students and South African co-researchers can develop strong working relationships while ensuring that all stakeholders are actively involved and respected in the project.

We learned from CORC’s mission that the voice of the community should be represented in both process and final outcomes. For that reason, our project was driven by community ideas through all stages to ensure that the chosen design met the needs of the community. We first connected with our community team members, as well as CORC and ISN representatives to identify a project that suited the desires of all stakeholders. After selecting the community hall as the focal point for our project, we brainstormed several sites for the proposed building. The design of the hall was driven by the needs of the community and their need for the space. Designs changed throughout the course of our time in Cape Town, but each time they changed the community was involved in making the decision. Design choices were made considering both function and budget, as the community is required by CORC to contribute 10% of the final cost. The management of the structure was also developed in conjunction with community members, creating a schedule and a set of rules for the hall. We also collaborated with Sikhula Sonke to build a play area made out of tires for the children of K2. The community members were involved in the design and construction of the play area.

The final phase of Shared Action Learning was reflection about the project. Many of these phases occur simultaneously, which helped the group to communicate with community members, make decisions as one group and assess possible outcomes of the project. This can also be seen reflected in the team’s Acts and Scenes, posted on the Process Narrative Pages. (See Financial Contribution: One Step at a Time Scene)

With community members acting as the main drivers of the project, its potential for longevity is increased. High levels of involvement mean the community will be interested in sustaining a project that they helped develop, and feel invested in. Along with their financial investment, the time committed to plan, design, and build will help drive the upgrading process forward. We also came to appreciate the plethora of challenges faced by community leaders and organizations such as CORC, ISN, and the City of Cape Town in supporting community involvement, given the difficulties affecting disadvantaged communities.


Objective 3: Develop plans for the design of the community hall, a management plan for the hall, and a space for early childhood development (ECD) programmes. 

Our team and the K2 working group divided up into four groups to ensure that no aspect was overlooked. These aspects were design and construction, shipping container logistics, development of a management plan, and the design of a movable playground for ECD programmes.

Design/Construction Team

Once the community hall became the priority, the next step was to determine the functions and purposes of the hall. Community members decided that its primary functions would be a meeting space. The hall would also be designed with future programmes in mind, such as a library, ECD programmes, an internet café, and church.

Determining the location of the community hall was an ongoing process that began with a map and collaboration between CORC, the K2 community, and the WPI team. Community members decided on several potential locations and worked with the WPI team to create a list of pros and cons for the various positions. This process continued based on factors such as the location of the Sikhula Sonke ECD programme, access roads for cars, community input, ease of construction, and drainage locations.

Once a final location was selected, CORC, WPI and K2 representatives visited MPCs in surrounding communities to better understand how they operate. In the informal settlement TT, we discovered a very simplistic structure. In Monwabisi Park we explored a much more sophisticated building. With these two MPCs in mind we decided to implement aspects of both structures – a more expensive, but lockable and sturdy shipping container for safety and a low cost wood and zinc structure for a more open meeting space. A scale model was built by the community and our team to better visualize the features of the hall. The scale model helped determine the location of windows and doors, as well as layout and orientation. From the scale model, our team and our co-researchers made drawings and a list of materials to advance the plans for construction. The final step in the design process was made possible by Thembi as she took our informal plans and budgets and finalized them. Once the plans and budgets were completed, our team consolidated the information into a detailed proposal for the MPC which was submitted to CORC.

Shipping Container Team

The K2 community hopes to use the container as a site for an internet café, a library, and a space to secure important tools and items. Having a shipping container as part of the community hall design was decided on for construction ease and security measures. Moreover, it was chosen as a strategy to respond to the community’s urgency to see a tangible change in their community in order to financially contribute towards upgrading efforts. With the shipping container in place, the community hopes that it will inspire other community members to contribute to the project and help meet the required financial contribution.

Through discussions between CORC, WPI and K2 community members’ ideas for customizing the container were brought up. Potential conversions to the storage container include adding windows, doors, shelving, carpets, electricity, light fixtures, security bars, paint or other possible features. The community discussed what aspects of the conversion to implement in the final design. Once it was decided to add a storage container into the hall and the layout was planned, the team began contacting local shipping container companies and planning for the container’s arrival. Through emails, phone calls, tours and personal interviews the logistics of getting a shipping container such as pricing, time, accessibility and delivery were discussed between the major stakeholders. The K2 community took pictures and measurements of the area to send to companies for review while also removing obstacles that would hinder a delivery truck from entering into the informal settlement. Once a company was decided on, the K2 team requested a site inspection of the area. This ensured that the container could be transported into the community before the purchase and delivery.

Management Plan Team

Past WPI, CORC and upgrading projects elsewhere have been affected by the challenges of supporting effective management structures for facilities and programmes. Our team met with community leaders to identify who was going to take leadership and manage the community hall. Together, we defined the main purpose for the community hall, who could use it and for what purpose, with priority given to weekly community meetings. The team made suggestions to community members and left schedule templates to use for the maintenance of the hall.

Movable Playground for Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programmes Team

CORC collaborated with Sikhula Sonke, a community-based ECD organisation, to progress childhood development programmes in K2. Sikhula Sonke asked our co-researchers and the WPI team to design and build a movable play structure for the children of K2. The play area was made out of tires, which we obtained around Khayelitsha with the help and knowledge of our co-researchers. Collecting the tires was a free, fun and strategic part of the design as it reduced the cost of the structure, but also allowed community members to take the lead in an area where they had the most expertise. This play structure also included wood benches for adults to sit on while their children play or for while they are washing clothes, allowing for more conversation in K2’s centre and in turn the fostering and development of a sense of community. Sikhula Sonke will be able to hold their programs in this play area as well. The hope is that when the community hall is built, Sikhula Sonke will be able to hold programs both in the hall and outside on the play structure.


Objective 4: Discuss and prepare plans for future improvements and further community upgrades and leave plan for future implementation of the plans. 

Our team developed a detailed proposal for the continuation of the K2 community hall. The plan included a list of steps, from creating a team to safety concerns, all of which need to be considered for a community hall to be built. It also included steps on the construction process, a bill of materials for the hall, and compiled the details from planning worked on in Objective 3.


Objective 5: Create a graphic-based and visually appealing guidebook detailing the major factors to consider when upgrading in an informal settlement. This guidebook is designed to aid future upgrading efforts by communities, organizations, and individuals. 

Our team met this objective by drawing from our experience in K2, past WPI projects and reports, and CORC processes and forms. In the guidebook we mapped out all the steps to implementing a building project in an informal settlement. We created a generic guide applicable to a variety of projects, detailing areas of importance such as community input, design, structure management, and the permitting process for the construction of a building. We also developed a printable checklist that clearly details the steps needed in the implementation of a project. This guidebook draws ideas from the guidebook created by Langrug in 2012, and expands on further considerations when implementing upgrading projects in informal settlements.