Needs Assessment: understanding different perspectives

Last week (18 – 24 July), MobiSAM conducted two workshops as a preliminary step to confirm the existing technology developed for the application with the hopes of eliciting any additional feedback to inform and possibly alter the current version of the communications system.

The two groups consisted of 1) The Municipality Staff and 2) Citizens or citizen representatives from local civil society organisations.

Sensitive to the differing contexts of operation as well as social perspectives the MobiSAM team opted to conduct the preliminary needs assessment in two separate sessions, specifically highlighting keys aspects most applicable to the groups.

Specific staff were identified from the Baseline Study of the municipality to participate in the workshop, based on their involvement of dealing with service delivery requests/announcements and communicating these across departments within the municipality, and with citizens.

The turnout was quite good, with some staff members sharing their perspectives – although we believe further engagement may encourage more participation from municipal staff in workshops.

The outcome of the meeting made us realise that engagement with the municipality in relation to the use and application of the technology to their contexts is definitely not a once off process, but requires continued engagement, if government responsiveness capacity in relation to the use of the technology is to be built.

This first workshop introduced us to members of staff from other departments, setting the development of a new rapport for engagement, as we plan for the upcoming Strategy Formulation workshop to support the integration of MobiSAM in the municipality. Participants from the municipality were briefed on how to use the system, and they provided feedback on aspects that could be incorporated into the system.

Through this initial phase of  building relationships within the municipality, the MobiSAM team was invited by the Municipal Manager to be involved in the implementation of their new Integrated Service Delivery Model. The Integrated Service Delivery Model brings together all service delivery stakeholders to provide services in an integrated manner. This involvement will provide a foundation for Strategy formulation to integrate MobiSAM within the municipality.

On another note: The MobiSAM team had to bid farewell to Mr Lwando Helesi from the Communication Department at the Municipality, who has been instrumental in supporting buy-in from municipal staff. We will miss his enthusiastic contribution; however, we also celebrate his new job in another department in provincial Government.

Citizen Needs Assessment 

Members of the MobiSAM team met with a  collection of five representatives from civil society organisations from across the Municipality to conduct a session in which the current MobiSAM communications system was presented with the aim of eliciting constructive criticism from the residents with regard to the envisioned operation of the application.

Although not all parties that were invited managed to attend the session, the small number of people present did provide valuable feedback with regard to the operation and intended use of the MobiSAM App; the general consensus being that there needs to be more engagement between civil society, residents and MobiSAM before any further feedback could be leveled against the current system.

As such the session although useful in terms of providing feedback and perspectives from people involved in civil society organisations across the town, did not provide the expected scope and depth with the MobiSAM team had anticipated.

When posed the question; “What kinds of information would you want to receive regarding service delivery by the Municipality?” attendees responded that they would appreciate information relating to the time frame and overall workflow when dealing with service delivery issues.

After providing some background and context to the mission and vision of MobiSAM and it’s intended use(s) the facilitators of the session centered discussion on two main points of feedback:

  • Are there any features to the application which you think are unnecessary?
  • Are there any features that should be added?

Sparking some discussion, the overall consensus among the group was that the application and its intended use make sense and has the potential to impact on how things have been done and bring about some degree of change in how and why Makana Municipality engage with service delivery complaints and issues.

 “I think this tool can help, because when people lay their complaints they feel ignored and it seems like Makana isn’t doing anything, but they are, but people don’t know because the communication is not good,” mentioned a representative from Radio Grahamstown.

Using the two hour session as a space for those in attendance to air their current grievances with regard to service delivery and communication between civil society organisations and the Municipality enabled the MobiSAM team to gain a deeper understanding about the kinds of issues faced by residents and the organisations tasked with representing their interests. One key aspect of the feedback pointed to the need to organise more such sessions so as to bolster the current intelligence gathered.

Further informal citizen feedback sessions are being planned, but in the meantime we encourage comments and discussion via this blog as well as the various MobiSAM social media platforms available here: MobiSAM on twitter // MobiSAM on facebook

Please let us know what you think below:



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