The social innovation systems approach for sustainable development in an African urban informal settlement

Mangqalaza, Hlokoma (2020-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Seeking innovative approaches to addressing social problems demands creative activities that differ from those associated with improved financial processes and the introduction of technologies to industrial ventures mainly intended for economic spinoffs – although there are some innovations intended for social transformation through collective action that are still related to technological and entrepreneurial initiatives. Other ways of seeking improved socioeconomic prospects and development activities in disadvantaged communities have resulted in a greater population shift to urban areas. This tends to result in socioeconomic challenges such as overpopulation, poor access to social services (housing, electricity and water) and unemployment. The social complexities that result from large-scale migration to urban areas demand radical, innovative solutions and methods that can cut across the adverse effects of development on the environment, while also addressing socioeconomic challenges in complex communities such as informal settlements. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified sustainable development goals (SDGs) as one of the radical approaches to address socioeconomic challenges in complex communities such as informal settlements. This study presents the argument that, to achieve sustainable development goals in African urban informal settlements, the actors involved in the process should function as social innovation systems. The literature reviewed for this work advocated a framework that focused on the spatial, economic/entrepreneurial, interactive and firm- or industry-level aspects from which innovative activities stem in theory and practice in urban informal settlements. Findings from the literature reviewed demonstrated that objectives of social innovation systems resonated with the sustainable development goals in African urban informal settlements. For this study, interviews, focus groups, observations, documentation and archival records were employed to gather evidence on the iShack project social innovation system case study. The iShack Project was identified as a social innovation initiative whose main function was to provide electrical power in the form of renewable energy (solar panels) at Enkanini informal settlement in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Empirical evidence revealed that the social innovation system established through the iShack Project occurred in different phases, namely the initiation, intermediary and stability phases. A top-down intervention was implemented during the initiation and intermediary phases. These phases relied predominantly on research development, availability of science and technology, and interaction and trust established between the organisations and institutions at local, regional and national level. The participants’ ease of access to resources and services of the iShack Project ensured the sustainability of this social innovation system for the community. Institutional bottom-up interventions were also operative during the initiation, intermediary and stability phases. Perceptions gathered from the beneficiaries and providers of the innovation further revealed that addressing a social problem could simultaneously result in long-term and temporary solutions, and that income generation for the iShack project was mostly necessary to take care of financial obligations (such as salaries). Lastly, findings revealed that the social innovation system established through the iShack Project was instrumental in addressing social challenges, which resulted in the realisation of more sustainable goals that were beyond the scope of providing energy. This work contributes to existing literature by identifying a social innovation system that can be applied to address sustainable development goals in a typical African urban informal settlement.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Op soek na innoverende benaderings om sosiale probleme aan te spreek, vereis innoverende aktiwiteite wat verskil van dié wat geïdentifiseer is met verbeterde finansiële prosesse en die bekendstelling van tegnologieë vir nywerheidsondernemings wat hoofsaaklik bedoel is vir ekonomiese spinoffs. Sommige innovasies wat bedoel is vir sosiale transformasie deur kollektiewe aksie is egter steeds verwant aan tegnologiese en entrepreneuriese inisiatiewe. Ander maniere om verbeterde sosio- en ekonomiese vooruitsigte en ontwikkelingsaktiwiteite in benadeelde gemeenskappe te soek, het gelei tot 'n groter bevolkingsverskuiwing na stedelike gebiede. Dit lei tot sosio-ekonomiese uitdagings soos oorbevolking, swak toegang tot maatskaplike dienste (behuising, elektrisiteit en water) en indiensneming. Die sosiale kompleksiteite wat voortspruit uit migrasie in stedelike gebiede, vereis radikale, innoverende oplossings en metodes wat die negatiewe gevolge van ontwikkeling op die omgewing kan sny, maar ook sosio-ekonomiese uitdagings in komplekse gemeenskappe soos informele nedersettings aanpak. In 2016 het die Verenigde Nasies (VN) volhoubare ontwikkelingsdoelwitte (SDG's) geïdentifiseer as een van die radikale benaderings om sosio-ekonomiese uitdagings in komplekse gemeenskappe soos informele nedersettings aan te spreek. Hierdie studie beweer dat, ten einde volhoubare ontwikkelingsdoelwitte in Afrika-stedelike informele nedersettings te bereik, die betrokke rolspelers as sosiale innovasiestelsels moet funksioneer. Die literatuur wat vir hierdie werk hersien is, het 'n raamwerk aanbeveel wat op die ruimtelike, ekonomiese / entrepreneuriese, interaktiewe en firma- of industriële vlak fokus, waaruit innoverende aktiwiteite in teorie en praktyk in stedelike informele nedersettings strek. Bevindinge uit die literatuur wat getoets is, het getoon dat die doelstellings van sosiale innovasiestelsels met volhoubare ontwikkelingsdoelwitte in Afrika-stedelike informele nedersettings gerangskik is. Empiriese bewyse is ingesamel deur middel van onderhoude, fokusgroepe, waarnemings, dokumentasie en argiefrekords wat die iShack Project se sosiale innovasiestelsel gevallestudie ingelig het. Die iShack-projek is geïdentifiseer as 'n maatskaplike innovasie-inisiatief waarvan die hooffunksie energie in die vorm van hernubare energie (sonpanele) by Enkanini informele nedersetting in Stellenbosch, Wes-Kaap Provinsie, verskaf. Bevindinge van die empiriese bewyse het aan die lig gekom dat die sosiale innovasiestelsel wat deur die iShack-projek gestig is, in verskillende fases die inisiatief fase, tussenganger en die stabiliteitsfase plaasgevind het. onderste ingryping vir organisatoriese en institusionele ondersteuning. Die top-down intervensie was instrumenteel tydens die inisiëring en intermediêre fases. Die inisiatiewe en tussengangerfases was hoofsaaklik gebaseer op navorsingsontwikkeling, beskikbaarheid van wetenskap en tegnologie, interaksie en vertroue tussen plaaslike organisasies en instansies op plaaslike, streeks- en nasionale vlak. Die maklike toegang van enkanini-gemeenskapslede tot hulpbronne en dienste van die iShack-projek het die volhoubaarheid van die sosiale innovasie (iShack-projek) vir die gemeenskap verseker. Institusionele bottom-up intervensie was ook instrumenteel tydens die inisiasiefase, die intermediêre en stabiliteitsfases. Persepsies wat by die begunstigdes ingesamel is en die verskaffers van die innovasie het verder aan die lig gebring dat die aanspreek van 'n sosiale probleem gelyktydig kan lei tot 'n langtermyn- en tydelike oplossing. Literatuur oor die sosiale innovasiestelsel het die belangrikheid daarvan gewys om selfs vir die sosiale innovasie-inisiatief te breek. Die bevindinge van hierdie studie het egter getoon dat die generering van inkomste vir die iShack-projek meestal nodig was om finansiële verpligtinge (soos salarisse) te verseker. Laastens, bevindings het getoon dat die sosiale innovasiestelsel wat deur die iShack-projek gestig is, instrumenteel was in die aanspreek van sosiale uitdagings, wat gelei het tot die verwesenliking van meer volhoubare doelwitte wat buite die omvang van die verskaffing van energie was. Hierdie werk het bygedra tot bestaande literatuur deur 'n sosiale innovasiestelsel te identifiseer wat toegepas kan word om volhoubare ontwikkelingsdoelwitte in 'n tipiese Afrika-stedelike informele nedersetting aan te spreek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/109158
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