By Lynda Keeru
A new short film from ARISE spells out why we focus on accountability for health in urban areas. Rachel Tolhurst opens the video by explaining that the consortium seeks to work together with slum dwellers to identify and analyse their problems and prioritize their needs. Interaction with slum dwellers reveals that they know the root cause of their problems and strive to change the poverty cycle especially through educating their children but also finding short-term solutions that are necessary to alleviate the poor living conditions of the urban poor. ARISE will be implemented in four countries: Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone.
It is estimated that more than half of humanity currently lives in an urban areas. 68% are projected to do so by the year 2050. By 2030, six out of ten people will be city dwellers. Sabina Rashid, Dean JPG School of Public Health in Bangladesh explains how the slums she visited in Kenya are pretty similar to theirs in Bangladesh. For this reason, ARISE is timely and critical because slum settlements are mushrooming due to the numbers of internal migrants in Bangladesh coming in everyday into urban centres in search of a better life.
Participatory forms of analysis, stories from slum dwellers and service providers are some of the approaches that will be used to identify potential solutions, according to the film. ARISE is about governance and equity and the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable groups. It aims to empower them to speak out, identify and prioritize their needs.
The film shows that there is collective sense of purpose among slum dwellers and a willingness to participate in development agendas. In the words of Nyabuto Omache, senior chief Korogocho slums in Kenya, “We work every day towards improvement of health service delivery and security services in this area through managing personnel and engaging with partners in the health and security sectors.” Nevertheless, Esther Wairimu, a women’s representative from Viwandani slums in Kenya says that women are often left out in development initiatives in the slums.
To achieve the overall goal of improving the health outcomes of people living in slums, it is important to provide research as emphasised by Joseph McCarthy of Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre and provide a link with the authorities for change to start being realized. Dr. Blessing Mberu from APHRC adds that the consortium is principally focussed on policy relevant research. In conclusion, Dr. Lilian Otiso, head of programs at LVCT Health brings in the equity aspect saying that ARISE is keen to address those communities in slums who are usually not reached.
You can watch the film on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqt1DtAe2tw