Social Facilitation in IDD Projects

The integration of social facilitation in projects implemented by the Infrastructure Delivery Division (IDD) of the DBSA has brought about progress, change and good success stories in the last three years.  Infrastructure programmes are characterised by specific mandates and stringent timeframe for implementation with communities as the major beneficiaries.  These projects provide opportunities towards alternative construction methods and flexible labour employment methods that allow community participation from project planning to asset maintenance. 

Central to the construction and maintenance projects implemented by the DBSA, is the social facilitation function that ensures that there is coordination and linkages among the stakeholders who spread from national, provincial, and local municipalities, the project management team, contractors and communities.  The aim of social facilitation is to ensure stakeholder buy-in and support of the projects throughout their life cycle. 


Over the past few years, IDD has been working in collaboration with the social facilitators appointed by professional service providers (PSPs) to ensure that day to day social facilitation matters are managed at each project.  Experience has revealed that in many instances IDD social facilitators have to step in to ensure that are successfully resolved.

Due to the key challenges on sites, alignment between the IDD social facilitation and the PSP social facilitation becomes vital to manage dissatisfaction and to maintain confidence and hope to communities. 

The alignment between IDD and PSP socials facilitators

This case study highlights collaboration and alignment of purpose between the IDD social facilitators and those appointed by the PSPs in resolving community issues in IDD construction and refurbishment projects. 

Social facilitation is about encouraging community participation in the development of their future and provision of interventions that promote ownership and sustainability of projects.  Social facilitation ensures that:

  • People are encouraged to be active and involved in managing their own development by exercising their responsibilities 
  • The community can successfully guide development planning and initiatives, resulting in a more inclusive, community-based and bottom-up planning process
  • There is good working relationships that promote stability amongst stakeholders during the life cycle of the project
  • There is localisation by utilisation of local material and labour thus reducing all unnecessary expenses
  • Social facilitation is one of the critical element in the success of infrastructure projects as it ensures effective cooperation and facilitates coordination of role-players by creating a conducive environment for the smooth implementation across and beyond the implementation of the project cycle.

IDD social facilitator's role 

There are currently three IDD social facilitators responsible for IDD projects that require social facilitation function across all provinces. For the infrastructure programme to be successful and sustainable, the social facilitator has to perform strategic and technical support in line with the expected deliverables of the programmes, namely: 

  • To develop a social facilitation Implementing Plan as a reference document for the programme
  • To utilise existing governance structures for easy implementation of the programme at all levels and set up structures where there is none
  • To facilitate stakeholder engagement both at management and stakeholder level
  • To provide inputs to the Risk Management Plan
  • To develop and manage the Communication Plan 
  • To provide input into the Monitoring and Reporting tool for the projects (with reference to employment, training and SMME development reports)
  • To develop and apply conflict resolution mechanisms 
  • To craft and implement interventions and mitigation strategies 
  • To develop social facilitation reporting templates for PSP social facilitators.

PSP social facilitation's role

The PSP social facilitators deal with the day-to-day operations of the project such as: 

  • Environmental scanning
  • Identification of existing stakeholders and their role thereof 
  • Setting up the local governing structures, provide capacitation and ensure sign off of the Development Charters
  • Ensure smooth decanting and beneficiation processes
  • Manage and monitor risk 
  • Manage conflict resolution between the communities and site agents.
  • Formulate co-ordination of the strategies and the implementation of the systems of regular reporting to the relevant structures such as PSP Team, PSC Committee, the National Departments, including local structures linked to the projects such as Building Steering Committees for Education programme and Clinic Management Committees for the Health programme and other stakeholders in accordance with relevant protocols
  • Create an enabling environment for the implementation of the programme, through the promotion of partnerships between the districts, community structures, government departments, SGB’s and SMT’s, implementing agents etc. 
  • Prepare documentation for proper handover of the projects once completed
  • Ensure that all relevant legislation is complied with during project implementation 
  • To engage with communities and stakeholders on the new technologies to be used for the construction of new infrastructure going forward


There have been glaring challenges during implementation of the infrastructure projects.  Some of these challenges are beyond the powers and scope of the PSP social facilitators and require intervention by IDD social facilitators, such as:

  • Inconsistency in implementation and the expected deliverables  
  • Inconsistency in the commencement of social facilitation by PSPs
  • Insufficient experience in dealing with difficult community structures
  • Lack of urgency
  • After care services.

Lessons Learned 

  • Experience of PSP social facilitators

Social facilitators working on the ground, especially in the rural communities, need to understand rural structures and dynamics to be able to know how to deal with chiefs and other rural community structures.  

  • Induction

IDD social facilitators are to develop an induction pack for the PSP facilitators to ensure that the standards are uniform and there is proper understanding of the overall programme. 

  • Communication between PSP technical team and the PSP social facilitators

To allow the PSP social facilitator to have more information on the progress of the site as well as contractor challenges, the technical teams should include the PSP social facilitator in progress meetings.  

  • Regular visits to projects

There should be regular visits to projects by both IDD and PSP social facilitators - at least once a month. This will improve scanning of issues and result in their speedy resolution.

  • Inception team

The project management team is to include social facilitation during inception, when the team is discussing the Inception Plan and IPIP. 

  • Working relations between CPM and IDD social facilitator

The feedback and engagement between the CPM and the social facilitator should be improved. This will ensure that the facilitator has the correct information on the deliverables and the progress of the project and will minimise social facilitators promising communities what is not in the schedule of the project.