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From the Fringes

South Africa’s Smart Township Citizens

Article image

Hylton Mitchell, Nancy Odendaal

30 December 2015



Amy Mutua

Book chapter



This chapter explores the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) practices of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), a community-based organisation working with informal settlement communities in Khayelitsha, on the southeastern fringes of Cape Town, South Africa. Many communities within Khayelitsha rely on communal toilets for sanitation, and the maintenance thereof has been highly uneven in quality. The chapter focuses on the use of ICTs in the SJC’s advocacy work on the delivery of sanitation to informal settlement residents. Within the more prominent theme of citizen action, three main research areas were identified and explored: the appropriation of ICTs by the SJC’s field staff, the use of their Web 2.0-based social networking sites (SNS) in their advocacy work, and digital mapping of portable communal toilets.


The research interrogates the use of ICT as a strategic tool for knowledge-based community empowerment, with the aim of understanding how these emerging uses of technology could assist developmental work within this sprawling area. The research emphasises the roles of various actors, the roles played by different technologies, and the relations between technology and people. The emphasis on agency reveals that technology is insufficient to augment empowerment processes. Technology–organisational relations are entangled within an institutional frame, where the meaningful use of technology requires a repositioning of network relations, in order for it to fulfill its potential as an empowerment tool.


Abstract based directly on original source. Back to the SmartCity.ZA collection.


Website References

Built environment

Cape Town





Informal settlements





Smart Cities

Social justice

South Africa


Water and sanitation

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