Learning and Social Change

For the last 2 weeks Paul Keursten and I have been working with the Imtech/Nova project in the east of Pretoria.  The project is part of the Imtech BV corporate social responsibility programme ( and is working with the Nova Institute ( to promote the sustainable use of electricity in households as a contribution to addressing climate change.  6 people from Imtech have been working (together with people from Nova) in households in 3 distinct communities in the east of Pretoria (Mamelodi, Garsfontein and Woodhill).

In each household, the Imtech people have engaged with the residents over a 48-hour period to measure the electrical energy consumed by each individual appliance in the homes and to provide advice to reduce electricity consumption.  The results have been very interesting, both from a social and from a technology perspective!

Major consumers of energy are geysers and fridge/freezers (especially when set at inappropriate or incorrect temperatures), TVs and other devices on stand-by, and over-filled kettles.  This is true in all communities, regardless of income levels.  It appears that households in all 3 communities could quite easily reduce their electricity consumption (and bills!) by up to 20% a month by taking some quite easy steps.

Paul and I have been facilitating the learning process in the project, and we framed the process in the heroic journey model (Home, Test, Quest, Shift, Gift).  We have facilitated a learning and de-briefing session with the Imtech and Nova people at the end of each day, and have been fascinated to see how the group has developed in the course of the project.  A big ‘shift’ is now occurring, in which the group members are increasingly seeing how providing information is only one part of a wider process of social change that requires community and individual engagement, and so the group is now looking at how to sustain the initiative over the longer term.