A Platform for Innovation and Progress in Eastern Congo

co-designing community services 


Fjord and Ensemble started a Qualitative Research initiative to ask women on the island of Idjwi to identify their most pressing needs and how they are solved at the moment. They commonly agreed on five needs amongst which was personal safety.

Fjord and Ensemble co-designed a solution that helps people who are attacked on the more remote paths and beaches. Back on Idjwi we met with the women a second time to share the idea. The women were not slow to point out the patchy mobile coverage and difficulties of ensuring an effective response to someone’s cry for help when far away.

Instead they started talking about a greater level of insecurity in their own homes and villages and how help in an emergency is provided by family and friends. They asked how this might be facilitated by the mobile phone and started to develop their own working ideas.

The women’s group is now leading the development of a personal safety solution, primarily for when they are attacked in their homes. Those of us at Fjord and Ensemble are involved of course, checking that we understand and providing the implementation solution. Truly the process is one of co-design.

The service we have created together is called Salama, which means safety. The technical pilot proved a success. We plan to go the full pilot stage in November.

As soon as the design phase for Salama is over, we will be asking the women to focus on solutions to the other needs they identified such as health and education. And we will ask them to involve others in the community so that innovation combines their capacity for ideas with our capacity for implementation. It’s a co-design process rooted in the community, which is about as fulfilling and effective as it gets.