Designing for Engagement: A Case Study of an ICT Solution for Citizen Complaints Management in Rural South Africa

  • Carl JacobsEmail author
  • Ulrike Rivett
  • Musa Chemisto
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics book series (SPBE)


This paper reflects on a study that investigated how the engagement between rural communities and their relevant government authority can be improved through bilateral information flow. In a case study of seven communities in two municipalities in South Africa, an ICT system was designed using a co-design approach that allowed all stakeholders to engage through various fora. The system that emerged through this process was characterized by its simplicity. Following the suggestions of the co-designers (community members, government authorities and experts) one of the profound aspects to implementation was the ability to engage with the government in a “free-at-point-of-use” system. The constraint of not having a recurrent IT budget in the municipality to facilitate system development or maintenance became a design requirement.

The system addressed the process of citizens’ complaints and the tracking of the municipalities’ responses to complaints. Most of the complaints required an intervention and action from each municipality, which resulted in a requirement to improve the internal workflow and the service delivery processes. Findings of the study showed that within 2 months of usage, the engagement between municipalities and communities changed. Citizens’ queries and complaints increased due to the system reducing the difficulty of raising a request. The municipalities used the system to manage their internal workflow.


Community Member Visual Studio Contact Number Municipal Office Technical Team 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the Water Research Commission (WRC) for supporting this research project. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the municipalities and community members in the Eastern Cape for their support of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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