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Eastern Cape communities do not have to fear that they will be left out in the cold during the 21-day lockdown period announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. All the information they need will be available by downloading an app on their mobile phones.

The Yabelana (Xhosa for ‘to share’) system is the first of its kind and uses technology to provide residents with easily accessible information on what services are available during the lockdown, on their mobile phones.

Prof. Darelle van Greunen, director of the Centre for Community Technologies (CCT) at Nelson Mandela University, says the Centre became involved by assisting with the preparation of the training material and multimedia for the app.

‘’As part of a collaboration between North West University and the CCT, we took over the custodianship of the app.”

The project is currently active in the communities of Ikageng, Promosa and Lokaleng, in the North West, and Sharpeville, in Gauteng. Given the current situation, it will be rolled out in the Eastern Cape and service providers in the province are encouraged to register on the app.

Yabelana is context specific, and gives a wide range of information, from healthcare and social services to councillors' contact details and events.

Van Greunen says service providers and citizens can benefit now by putting their services on the app and allowing citizens to see which providers are open and can be of service in these times. 

“In so doing, it will minimize risk as citizens will know which service providers closest to them are operational.  It will also allow them to be in contact with the service providers to establish whether they have what the citizen is looking for.”

The first step is to download the app from Google Play or the App Store. Service providers are then required to register and promote their services.

Users can search and find service providers in any category, make contact with them and provide feedback about the service provided. This encourages citizen participation and accountable service delivery.

The link below provides step-by-step directions on how to register for this project.

Centre for Community Technologies director, Prof Darelle van Greunen, explains to Noxie Otola how the app works.