ARISE featured on the Connecting Citizens to Science podcast!

Effective health research is built upon equitable partnerships between researchers and communities. In Connecting Citizens to Science, Dr. Kim Ozano and Robinson Karuga, interview expert researchers from across the globe who engage with communities in their research. 

Series 4: Research for social change within urban informal communities

Series 4 of Connecting Citizens to Science is supported by ARISE. The ARISE consortium is all about promoting social change for improved health and wellbeing with communities and people living and working within urban informal spaces.  Together, across ten partners in four countries – Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Sierra Leone- they are co-developing solutions with communities to health and wellbeing challenges. However, co-production of knowledge for action is challenging due to the many and intersecting inequalities and power relations between researchers, development professionals, activists and communities. The podcast will explore how ARISE is working to overcome these, in partnership with people in urban informal settlements or slums, to stimulate change. 

Episode 4: Participatory action research: from community collected data to action and change  

In this episode we hear from our co-host Robinson Karuga on his role as a Research, Evaluation and Learning Manager at LVCT. Robinson has been part of a team implementing a participatory action research approach to improve health and wellbeing in two informal settlements in Nairobi. Robinson shares with us: 

  • How data collected with community co-researchers using photovoice (see S4E1) was presented to key stakeholders like chiefs, village elders, civil society organisations and community volunteers so they could identify and prioritise key health and wellbeing issues  
  • The development of work improvement teams that were responsible for driving actions for change together with key decision makers, government bodies and those who held power such as police 
  • The journey from data collection to problem identification, root cause analysis, developing actions and implementing them within the system 
  • The role of researchers as facilitators, coaches, and moral support, as well as assessing and navigating power dynamics through reflexivity 

Episode 3: Covid-19 research and relationships with communities in informal settings for policy response

In this episode we talk about COVID-19 and how travel and public health restrictions presented challenges to ensuring that urban marginalised voices were heard by researchers and policy makers in India and Bangladesh. Our impressive guests Professor Sabina Faiz Rashid and Senior Research Fellow Dr Surekha Garimella discuss the importance of having established long-term relationships with people, communities and supporting organisations which enabled research to continue and ensured that the needs of people in urban spaces were reaching decision makers. Our guests share;

  • What happened when COVID-19 hit urban informal communities in India and Bangladesh
  • The personal and professional passion of researchers to work with communities, not only for research purposes but in solidarity for the struggles faced
  • Their own career journeys of humility, unlearning, connectedness and shared humanity that shaped their lives and relationships with communities

Episode 2: Intersections between research and activism

In this week’s episode we will be discussing the intersections between research and activism for social change. With our guests Vinodkumar Rao and Joseph Kimani, we will be seeking to understand how lessons from activist approaches can be applied within research and vice versa. We will also explore how power, participation and social justice fits within the wider research agenda when seeking to engage communities in informal settings. Key points we hear from Kimani and Vinod include:

  • How slum federations in India and Kenya lead data collection with support from NGOs and researchers so they can demand rights and ensure they have a ‘seat ‘at the decision-making table 
  • The role that researchers play within activist organisations to support knowledge generation, understand government policies and to decipher academic evidence so that communities can develop solutions or ask for resources from the state.
  • The organic growth of ‘movement’ building – when one community takes action another will follow and have an example to build upon
  • The importance of collecting data about slums, challenging government data, and producing evidence to ‘prove their existence, to prove their requirements and to prove the value that they bring to the city by inhabiting in the city.’
  • How dominance and power within community structures is considered and managed within activism to promote inclusion

Episode 1: Storytelling and visual methods with people living in informal settlements 

In this week’s episode we are talking to Inviolata Njoroge from LVCT Health in Kenya and Shrutika Murthy from The George Institute for Global Health (TGI), India. They shared their experiences of using visual methods and storytelling to bridge the power-laden distances between the lived realities of waste pickers, child headed households, the elderly and people with disabilities in urban informal communities and research and policy. We hear about: 

  • Methods that have been used to connect with the most marginalised and often hidden people in urban informal communities 
  • How different intersecting identities and inequities add new layers of vulnerability in urban informal settlements  
  • The use of participant shadowing as an activity to capture experience and context of vulnerable people and what needs to be considered before using this as a method to connect with people 
  • How the photovoice method has brought out silent voices and stories that are often left unheard  
  • The importance of considering researcher and community mental health when using these in-depth exploratory and creative methods with vulnerable populations