Co-Design a Sociotechnical Platform in South Africa


CERES support has enabled us to conduct a project to co-design a sociotechnical platform to be used at community level to assess social emotional development and mental health in young children (3-6 years) from low-income, South African settings. This platform is intended for use by community health workers (CHWs) affiliated with the Department of Health or other health organisations, as well as CHWs, home visitors, ‘mentor mothers’, or any other community-based workers affiliated to community-based organisations (CBOs). The project will be conducted in two phases: 1) development of the initial prototype tools including Focus Groups and Co-Design sessions, analysis of interview data and design artifacts, and initial design of the tool, and 2) obtaining feedback on the platform prototype from CBOs in a diverse range of settings.

In Phase 1, we will work with CBOs in Cape Town, Western Cape Province, to develop an understanding of CBO needs and collaboratively design an initial prototype with these community stakeholders. These CBOs have experience in low-income urban and peri-urban settings, and work to promote early childhood development (ECD) in these settings. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the social emotional component of the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA, developed by Save the Children) will form the basis of the initial tool. In Phase 2, we will work with CBOs and CHW programmes who are working to promote ECD in other parts of South Africa, including both urban and rural areas. The purpose of this phase will be to obtain further feedback on the platform prototype, so that the platform can be appropriate across a range of low-income settings. These CBOs and CHWs will be located in the following provinces: Gauteng (urban and peri-urban), Limpopo (rural) and KwaZulu-Natal (rural).

In year 2, we plan to work on the dissemination and implementation of this tool across a range of settings in South Africa. We will continue working with community-based organisations focussing on early childhood development, as well as relevant government departments who show interest in the tool. We also plan to investigate options to disseminate and implement this tool in African countries, building on other collaborations and networks of researchers working in these countries. Furthermore, we hope to identify further funding opportunities for taking this project to scale, and evaluating its effectiveness to promote social emotional development and mental health outcomes of vulnerable young children in South Africa.