Woodstock Community Development Action Research Programme
1. The Context and Issue
The District 6 / Zonnebloem / Woodstock community is a declining inner-city enclave of workers, artisans, small traders and many unemployed who, one after the other, are slowly being evicted or bought out, effectively pushed onto the Cape Flats where they face multiple hardships and marginalisation. The process is in its early stages, as property developers sniff out opportunities to gentrify the area for business premises and middle-class accommodation located close to the city. The residents here were spared removals in the 1960’s and 1970’s when thousands of their neighbours and family members, who were living above the highway, were forced out under the Group Areas Act. But now, it seems, it is their turn. The economic development in the city in recent decades has taken place around them but has left them behind and now threatens to exclude them altogether.
2. Vision and purpose
The District 6 Community Development Programme (D6-CDP) sees a different future. For us at the CDRA, as a civil society organisation located there, this community embodies a rich cultural heritage, representative of the diversity of Cape Town, able to revive and revitalise itself, with the right support, giving the members of the community opportunities to stay and to flourish and to make a valuable contribution to the City.
Although we cannot impose a vision we can imagine here a lively community, economically thriving, connected to the tourist industry (Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants, cultural tours and events) and providing goods and services to the burgeoning economy around them. We also imagine the creches and school in the area being supported to improve themselves with added support from local businesses. Already Clicks and Sir Juice have indicated willingness and there are many more along Sir Lowry’s (Main) Road who will be prevailed upon. We know that if we can help the community to organise itself and to join hands with the local government and local business then it can imagine and rise to meet a different future.
This proposal seeks to establish a programme to do exactly that.
But there is a double-purpose to this proposal:
We have been in discussion with Daniel Sass, District head, City of Cape Town, about the City partnering us in the Pilot and he has already indicated strong support.
3. What is the developmental issue we are seeking to address?
One legacy of the past that we are still living with is passive communities who wait for government to deliver services to relieve their poverty. Government itself is structured around this paradigm, delivering water, sanitation, education, health etc. from above with little real participation. Ward committees, Integrated Development Plans and the like are there to involve communities but for most these are tokenistic processes. In many areas, like the one that is the centre of this proposal, poverty is growing, drug-abuse and crime increasing, child nutrition worsening and other social ills mounting. Positive economic and cultural initiatives by communities are inhibited.
So the issue is how can community, local government and local business engage each other to create a thriving community? What are the key processes, relationships and resources required to enable this?
4. Specific objectives
The programme seeks to:
5. Key Elements of the Programme
The District 6 Community Development Action Research Programme envisages the kind of engagement with other stakeholders that sees community groups become active citizens involved in co-production of services and co-creation of solutions.
These partnerships and collaborations are implemented at various levels, working from smaller to larger scale projects, as relationships and capacities grow. In this way government is helped to reshape itself around the needs, rights, assets and agency of communities.
a) Building horizontal or peer learning relationships and social networks. Learning together surfaces and shares local capacity and builds trusting learning relationships as the foundation for working together. This will occur through multiple horizontal learning exchanges and community meetings;
b) Surfacing and strengthening own initiatives, resources and resourcefulness. People in communities are already active and have capacities that they do not value or seek to grow. Helping people to share what they do or are planning to do enables them to seek support and to take these to another level;
c) Strengthening organisation and leadership. Community is sustained through good organisation and leadership. Helping communities to develop good organisational capacities and to identify worthy leaders provides the human basis from which they can engage local government and business;
d) Community visioning and planning. Supporting communities to undertake enumerations, visioning and planning processes to better enable them to do what they can for themselves and, where necessary, to approach government and business with specific proposals where their support is needed.
e) Stakeholder Engagement. The pilot programme will create and support platforms for more productive and structured stakeholder engagement with the intention to foster community development orientations in all stakeholders;
f) Participatory Action Research (including Monitoring and Evaluation). The programme will be accompanied by a strong action research process involving all stakeholders. Not only will this incorporate ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation, but it will continually yield valuable lessons and eventually provide evidence, learnings and insights to inform policy and future practice of all involved.
6. Expected Results
We envisage the following results within the 2 year pilot phase:
· Sustained structured dialogue between stakeholder groups;
· A core of local leadership and community structures. This core of leadership will give direction in terms of community initiatives;
· The community will begin to shift from seeing themselves from being passive consumers of services to seeing themselves as drivers of their own development, laying the basis for relating to government/business in a new way;
· Several businesses and cultural initiatives will either be strengthened or formed.
7. Implementation Process
Phase One: Scoping/Survey and Relationship Building
Identify a preliminary stakeholder group of existing community, local government and business leaders (already underway) to guide the work of Phase One
Undertake a preliminary scoping exercise to:
Phase Two: developing learning processes and relationships
This is a foundational phase to strengthen existing actors on the ground surfacing learning, initiative, resources, resourcefulness and leadership:
Phase Three: Strengthening Organisation and Leadership
As Phase One and Two progress layers of community leaders and organisations, formal and informal will become revealed. These will be invited into a series of capacity development workshops at the CDRA based largely on the existing courses in organisation and community development but adapted to suit the context, needs and culture of the people.
Phase Four: Enumeration
Communities that are organised to enumerate and research themselves, not only gather more accurate information but they are also empowered in the process. Similar to the work of the housing federations we will facilitate (with the leaders) the development of a good questionnaire and the training up of local matriculants to go door to door to collect the kind of information from every household required for thorough planning. Local government and business will also be involved, both to support and be similarly enumerated.
The results of the enumeration will be made accessible to the community through meetings and possibly a festival that celebrates its resourcefulness and courage to meet the issues it faces.
Phase Five: Visioning and Initiative Development
The community leaders, with local government and business will gather in various ways to vision its future and to develop initiatives and solicit support from stakeholders. This is a critical phase where several initiatives are born or strengthened and a certain momentum is generated. New stakeholders may emerge or come to the party (e.g. surrounding businesses)
Phase Six: Enterprise and Capacity Development
In this phase concrete project implementation swings into action on many fronts involving several stakeholders. Supporting this would be more practical capacity development activities (business training, teacher development, parenting workshops, training of youth development volunteers etc.)
Parallel Phase: Participatory Action Research
CDRA will facilitate and hold continuous questioning and answering of research (including monitoring and evaluation) focused on learning from experiences and developing insights to guide future practice and policy. It will be participatory, not only to fully engage the stories and insights of all involved, but also to build their capacity for honest self-reflection and learning. This is the key capacity and quality to ensure sustainability.