Increasing Access through Asset Mapping

We created the asset map of technology access points to promote continued computer access for all members of the WNG, as well as exercise the practical skills learned in the pilot programme. The completed map hangs in the container with pins marking houses, landmarks, libraries, and internet cafés located in Philippi and Khayelitsha. Although we had initially planned to build a map of social services, this changed throughout the course of our project, developing into a map of technology access points in the community where the members of the Women’s Networking Group could practice the skills they learned in the training sessions. This map helped address the issue of limited access to different kinds of technology that the women see in their community.After we learned that the Women’s Networking Group was spread throughout Greater Philippi and Khayelitsha, two of the largest townships in Cape Town, this area was chosen for the map.  We began the mapping process with each woman marking the street where they live to build initial familiarity with the map. They were able to orient themselves and found their neighborhoods by recognizing major roads. This meant we did not need to walk through the communities, eliminating a highly time consuming step in our originally anticipated process. The women further got their bearings by marking schools and shopping centers. The women’s interest in the project was sparked while pinning places that they knew, which helped to keep them invested in adding technology access points, such as Internet cafés or libraries, making this time spent highly valuable. The women were able to use the landmarks they pinned alongside addresses and Google Maps to find these access points. Due to limited time, we put a smaller number of assets on the map than originally expected, but this allowed for future additions by the women. This map was composed of physical maps, pins, and a Microsoft Excel database available at Sizakuyenza. This setup made the map easy to update, making it a sustainable resource for aiding in computer access for the WNG.


Maps hanging in the Inyanda Youth shipping container

The sequence of events leading up to the creation of the technology access point map taught us a valuable lesson about professional relationships. At the start of this project, we believed that it was not our place to negotiate the deliverables with our sponsors. Thus, we made promises that gave little benefit to our co-researchers, such as the completion of a Community Based Organization (CBO) map. After realizing that we owed as much to our co-researchers as we did to our sponsors, we saw it fit to build a map of technology access points and create a CBO Database instead. It initially took some convincing on our end to change our sponsor’s vision of the map, so we compromised to build the access point map and start a CBO database. This map of access points would directly benefit the Women’s Networking Group, building strong motivation to continue the mapping process long after we have left. Developing two maps is not what we expected, but it taught us a lot about professional relationships, such as how to weight the varying perspectives of different stakeholders, all of which have value, including our own, and make compromises. Looking back, we realized that an initial negotiation could have avoided the temporary loss of the overall connection of the technological training and the asset map. It also would have given us more time to work on our final map, allowing opportunities for reevaluation of the composition of the map and more access points to have been identified. However, the room for growth left behind with our final product will allow for the women to make this map even more their own through its expansion and allowing more women opportunities to add to it.