Enablers of Egalitarian Participation: Case Studies in Underserved Communities in South Africa. Processes of Creativity “Not for the Sake of it”

  • Maria Rosa LoriniEmail author
  • Wallace Chigona
  • Malcolm Garbutt
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 933)


Although ICT4D impacts peoples’ lives, drivers for change are often from a self-serving perspective, and not sustainable, due to lack of buy-in in the affected communities. To overcome this, ICT4D must move from laboratory approaches and collaboration to grassroots innovation, with communities designing their use of ICT. This study presents three cases of ICT4D projects in underserved communities in Cape Town, South Africa, with the aim of determining enablers of egalitarian participation to support grassroots innovations. Egalitarian participation encourages acquiring self-confidence and empowerment, while remaining motivated to be part of the process. In the processes analysed, an emergent approach, characterised by openness, relaxed rules and flexibility, allowed participants to work on their skills to increase confidence in their capabilities, and to evaluate new opportunities. The primary outcome of an approach based on relationships, and not on design rules, promoted inclusive participation. Collectives engaged in processes, and developed self-determined behaviours and cohesion in supporting their communities. The social goal of the activities, where creativity developed ‘not for the sake of it’ backed the main aim of the egalitarian approach, involved the community and created ownership. Analysis of the cases highlighted methodological patterns that could potentially be replicated, and which are presented as enablers for egalitarian participation in underserved communities. In contrast to the approach of purely supplying solutions, a reflexive approach, permeated by the principles of mutual learning and solidarity, was observed, which evolved into grassroots innovations.


Co-design Community participation Co-creation Inclusive participation Grassroots 



A sincere thank you to the community groups – Mamas, Youth and Community Radio, and the external professionals – the RLabs, the web designer and the journalists.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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