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Co-design of youth wellbeing indicators for ICT intervention in an underserved community in South Africa
Oluwole, Oluwakemi Olufunmilayo
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The challenges faced by members of underserved communities in South Africa have frequently been reported in literature. To ameliorate these challenges, different interventions have been introduced both locally and internationally to improve the wellbeing of the members of these communities. One such intervention is the introduction of information and communication technology ICT as a means to close the digital divide and meeting the socio-economic needs of the community. Youth living in these communities are expected to derive more benefit from ICT interventions as they have been reported to be more technology savvy and dependent on technology than the older adults are. However, the failures of ICT interventions deployed by donors have also been reported in literature. Authors have identified several reasons for the failure of ICT interventions, but a lack of consultation with the beneficiaries of this type of intervention is common to many findings. The exclusion of the youth as major beneficiaries of ICT interventions causes a lack of alignment between the interventions deployed for their use and the actual wellbeing needs of the youth in underserved communities. The failure of ICT interventions increases the digital divide and frustrates the good intentions of local and national government as well as international donors to improve the wellbeing of the youth in underserved communities. By using the concept of wellbeing, the study aimed to explore how youth wellbeing indicators can be used to facilitate effective ICT interventions for youth empowerment and development in underserved communities in South Africa. Furthermore, the study aimed todesign an ICT-based artefact to prioritise youth wellbeing indicators in underserved communities in South Africa. The study was implemented through a qualitative research method using a service design strategy that allowed for a participatory research approach and co-design instrument for data collection from the youth living in Grabouw anunderserved community in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Data was collected from 40 youth aged between 15 and 30 at two workshops. Content analysis technique was used to analyse data. Findings from the research show that given the opportunity, the youth are able to determine their social-economic needs. A comprehensive set of wellbeing indicators was developed. Thirteen wellbeing indicators symbolising the issues in the community were prioritised, which are:unemployment, self-image, reaching full potential, family support,access to water, sanitation and electricity,meaning and purpose of life,being healthy,religious practice,educational level,future expectations,freedom of expression,skills to get a job, and access to skills and training. Overall, nine categories of wellbeing indicators were identified; of these, seven are similar to theGlobal Youth Wellbeing Index(GYWI) categories. Three new categories – aspiration, social support, and infrastructure and services – were realised. The three factors are an indication that the Grabouw youth may have special needs different from the global perspective as specified by the GYWI categories. Moreover, the priorities of the wellbeing indicators when compared to the GYWI rating for South Africa differ significantly, which may indicate that the needs of the youth living in underserved communities may vary largelyfrom other youth in the country. Furthermore, an artefact that can be used to prioritise wellbeing indicators was designed. It is important for stakeholders of ICT interventions to embrace participation of the beneficiaries as a means of aligning interventions to their needs. These stakeholders need to seek ways of developing artefacts that address the needs, not limited to health, so that the youth can take advantage of technology to improve their wellbeing on a continuous basis.