Reality Television for Community Development - The Kwanda Initiative in South Africa


  • Lebo Ramafoko
  • Gavin Andersson
  • Renay Weiner


Kwanda was an innovative community development initiative of the Soul City Institute and partners. Five deprived communities were challenged to make their areas `look better, feel better and work better’ by addressing health and development issues. Responses to this challenge were documented in a 13-episode reality TV series that culminated in a viewer vote for the most successful community. The series attracted more than a million viewers on late-night television, and feedback indicated that many viewers were motivated to take action. The evaluation of the initiative led to the conclusion that Kwanda offers possibilities for using the reality TV format to foster community development and the scaling-up of development messaging. Importantly, Kwanda demonstrated that when communities organise on their own behalf, government is better able to deliver. The evaluation also raised several questions for the Kwanda partners which would need to be taken into account in future efforts.