Community design: a collaborative approach for social integration

Salomao David Cumbula, Amalia Giorgiana Sabiescu, Lorenzo Cantoni


This paper describes a successful case of collaboration among a south-north project team, a Community Multimedia Centre (CMC), and community beneficiaries, for the design and implementation of a small-scale project to improve CMC services for the local community of Quelimane, in Mozambique. The project is part of RE-ACT, a broader scale research and development project which aimed to investigate the social meanings and understandings attributed by different stakeholders to Mozambican CMCs, and use these insights to co-design and implement CMC services with inherent relevance for the local communities. The case reported is considered the most successful of nine action research and co-design projects implemented through RE-ACT. The services designed for the Quelimane CMC can be considered a success not because of perfect alignment with initial goals but rather due to responsiveness and flexibility in the implementation approach: activities and goals were constantly revised by teams to cope with emerging challenges, while at the same time keeping a clear orientation towards set targets. The paper discusses five underlying factors thought to heighten the chances of success of action research and co-design projects involving local communities, ranging from local proactivity and initiative, to commitment to project success, and high perceived self-efficacy of local stakeholders.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441