Accountability in Urban Health
“More than half of the world’s people live in cities, with one in three of those living in low- and middle-income countries doing so in informal settlements, sometimes known colloquially as slums, with inadequate access to services and opportunities to shape decisions about their environment. Our research will support the people in our focal communities to claim their right to health.”
Professor Sally Theobald, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Principal Investigator, ARISE
Around the world, the number of people living in cities is growing rapidly. Transforming the lives of vulnerable people in informal urban settlements is vital to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This entails tackling complex, interrelated challenges of poor health, unequal access to services, insecurity and weak accountability. Rigorous research and evidence, combined with community engagement and ownership, must inform these efforts.
The ARISE Hub – Accountability and Responsiveness in Informal Settlements for Equity – is a new research consortium, set up to enhance accountability and improve the health and wellbeing of marginalised populations living in informal urban settlements in low- and middle-income countries.
The story of AmosAmos, a 22-year-old, talented artist and fashion designer from Mathare 4a, sought to sell coffee after the termination of his contract in a fashion firm he worked for. He expressed concern in his new business as it is yet to successfully pick up. A sense of uncertainty lingers as he thinks of his business’s future outcomes due to the low daily’s earning he can carve out. This is due to the low demand for coffee following the introduction of curfew, which has slowed down normal business operations during the booming business hours. Unemployment has added to the increased rate of insecurity within Mathare. Amos has witnessed several scenes that bring about his fright for the dark. To him, this nightmare began when his and hundreds of other worker’s contracts were promptly terminated. He now has to risk finding customers within the now dangerous streets to earn a living.
The story of StaffordStafford Otieno a 28-year-old youth from Mathare said, “Finding a job has been one of my biggest challenges during this difficult pandemic period. I have applied for so many jobs but I have not been successful. Also, most of the jobs require years of experience and I do not have the exposure. I have realized here in Kenya if you don’t have connections or a godfather you can’t find a job.”
The stories of Daniel, Brian and the second DanielMany learning institutions around the world remain closed in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In Kenya, the education ministry directed the closure of schools in mid-March, three months after the school calendar had commenced. Six months on, various efforts have been channeled towards adapting to a new normal, online learning, as the government-run Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development continues to provide school programmes via the radio, television, and online. The suspension of school by the government has made some Mathare based university students like Brian Opondo, Daniel Shitanda and Daniel Ongulo among others take up tutoring both primary and secondary candidates. They now have 25 students, whom they tutor within Mathare at a small fee of 100 shillings (KSH) per week to carter for administrative costs e.g. photocopy of the academic past paper for revision. This they do voluntarily while making use of the learning space granted by Canada Mathare Education Trust.
Prompting creative responsesAs much as the pandemic has affected many, it has also helped, to an extent, in improving lifestyles as thousands of youth have embraced creativity and innovation, some proceeding to make a living out of it. Sectors such as fine arts by drawing murals, music through composition of inspirational songs, poetry composition and performance, artistic performances are now using social media platforms such as Facebook, twitter and YouTube. Such artistic performances are majorly geared towards attracting audiences and provide entertainment sources as well as educational and awareness creation platforms for the masses. COVID-19 has impacted negatively on majority of youth, but hasn’t hindered their active brains from being inventive and innovative thereby portraying the possibilities of coping within the pandemic period and going further to also be able to earn a living. And this is only possible if they are empowered to do so by creating co-curriculum training facilities such as vocational and community training institutes. With proper measures, we can manage the drastic economic instability the youth are experiencing currently.
Shadowing Suvartha on her waste-picking route in Vijayawada
A photo essay by Shrutika Murthy, The George Institute for Global Health India
We have been involved in a number of processes to create guidelines on safeguarding in global health programmes. You can read more in our latest paper in BMJ Global Health.
Or you can read the findings of an international consultation on safeguarding by our colleagues Surekha Garimella and Bintu Mansaray.
We also have advice on safeguarding in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.