Participatory Action Research as a Methodology for the Development of Appropriate Technologies by Communities


  • Andrés Esteban Acero López Universidad de los Andes
  • María Catalina Ramírez Cajiao Universidad de los Andes
  • Mauricio Peralta Mejía Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios
  • Luisa Fernanda Payán Durán Universidad de los Andes
  • Edier Ernesto Espinosa Díaz Universidad de los Andes


Action Research, Technology Design, Participation, Learning Communities


The social and environmental development potential of countries like Colombia shows the need to articulate right from the communities, the processes and projects relevant to their territories. Furthermore when vital aspects of human health, such as access to clean water and water consumption, are also opportunities for the development of innovative technological solutions, stemming from the relationship between society and natural systems. In this context, a group of researchers together with a community of about 1,500 children and 15 teachers from schools of several towns in Cundinamarca department (Colombia) has been developing a technological platform founded on the community-based action research proposal of Ernest Stringer. This interactive technological platform, based on the use of SMS and the web, is called “La Liga del Agua”. It is a jointly constructed space where synergies between the different stakeholders around the proper use of water resources can arise, based on the self-recognition of wastewater problems on each of the participants’ homes. Thus, the problem approaches from the daily practices and the technological inefficiency, generating an empowerment of the water importance. The main theoretical foundation of this technological co-construction is based on the spirit of participatory and democratic systemic intervention, from the soft systems methodology of Peter Checkland, as well as the sociocultural vision of the community that, voluntarily, intend to solve a problem collectively, as suggested by Rusell Ackoff. In this article, we will show the jointly design process of “La Liga del Agua” platform and the incidence on the increase of the good practices of water resources usage. In addition, the results of the teaching strategies and recreational activities that seek to increase the empowerment by the actors and their interaction with the technology will be presented. To conclude, all the learnings of the proposal will be introduced, so it can be replicated on other contexts with environmental concerns.

Author Biographies

Andrés Esteban Acero López, Universidad de los Andes

PhD Student on Engineering Universidad de los Andes Bogotá D.C., Colombia

María Catalina Ramírez Cajiao, Universidad de los Andes

  • Associate professor, Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • Director, Ingenieros Sin Fronteras Colombia

Mauricio Peralta Mejía, Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios

  • Research Director, Parque Científico de Innovación Social, Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios, Colombia
  • Phd Student, School of Business Administration, Swiss Management Center, Switzerland.

Luisa Fernanda Payán Durán, Universidad de los Andes

  • M.Sc. Student, Center of Interdisciplinary Studies for Development (CIDER), Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Edier Ernesto Espinosa Díaz, Universidad de los Andes

  • M.Sc. Student, School of Economics, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia