This is a community resilience initiative to help children, youth and the larger Dandora community to cope with the disproportionate impacts of COVID19 (measures) on the social and economic well-being of informal settlers.  

Objectives of the project

This development project was conceived in response to the Covid19 pandemic which has presented an added burden on children and families in slums and informal settlements. In Dandora, the pandemic has put a strain on caregivers to meet children’s developmental needs at home due to space and resource-constraints.

Additionally, the widespread job and income loss and economic insecurity among families is seen to exacerbate social ills such as domestic violence, petty crime, child labour, and teenage pregnancy. To enable the community better cope with this shock, Mustard Seed, a community-based organization in Dandora, proposed this project as a novel strategy to foster and sustain learning beyond the classroom, whilst creating income generating opportunities for the youth and fostering social ties through cultural, sports, social and educational activities for residents. 

The local CBO, Mustard Seed, have since 2013 set precedence in rejuvenation of public spaces through the model court approach which largely involves transformation of open spaces within residential estates (often used as dumping sites) into cleaner, greener, safer and (child)friendly spaces.

Model court- transformed green space


To respond to the new and unique devastating impacts of Covid19, the model evolved to include income generating ventures for the youth and diverse activities to stimulate informal social contact among residents. Against this backdrop, the multipurpose learning and social cohesion center was borne. It has been developed from an initial makeshift, structurally unsound, unusable structure into a co-designed, robust, equipped multi-purpose facility with high structural integrity. 

Initial makeshift structure

Co-designed multi-purpose facility


The project is an action-research, whereby community activities (building a community hall, holding community activities, training children), are initiated and supported and their impact is monitored. 


The project contributes to immediate thematic goals and long-term multidisciplinary goals.  

  1. Improved community vitality – In the short-term, the multipurpose center has created a safe equipped space for social cohesion of community residents, a lucrative space for the youth, and after completion, will be a child-friendly environment for community-based learning for school children.  
  2. Resilience mindset – The project has also played a critical role in mindset-shift of local communities to promote active citizenship and collective action against crises. It now gains popularity as it exhibits how communities can innovate collectively to counter vulnerability. In the long-term, the project is expected to ease poverty and social ills. Additionally, it will contribute to multi-dimensional health outcomes; environmental health (reclaiming and revamping public spaces), psychological and physical health (physical fitness, informal social contact, strong social capital), intellectual health (community-based tuition for children), and economic health (income-generating activities for the youth).
  3. Novelty in research and resilience building – The approach adopted in this project facilitated active participation of community members in better understanding the local realities and co-producing practical solutions to the most pressing needs during a pandemic. Additionally, by involving local communities, local state and non-state actors, and external organizations across scales, the project pioneers a multilevel approach to the governance of risks which is novel. The project demonstrates how adaptive institutional configurations can catalyze boundary spanning for development and sustain cooperation across actor groups.


Community engagement and co-creation of hall


Community meetings

We organized a series of co-production sessions with the local community in developing the resilience initiative. We also actively contribute to community dialogues in Dandora and build the capacity of Mustard Seeds. 

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