Research, art and storytelling: A showcase of art produced as part of the ARISE consortium

Art can be a powerful tool for storytelling, experience sharing and a catalyst for change. As well as the wealth of research produced by the ARISE consortium, over the course of the project we have also worked with local communities in informal settlements to tell their stories through various art projects.

Conversations around urban health can sometimes take place without strong representation of those from urban informal settlements and the Global South. We wanted to bring the voices of these underrepresented communities to ICUH 2023 through a multimedia exhibition showcasing photography, video and audio presentations from communities in our focus countries of Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. We invited conference attendees to drop in to this creative space, and learn more about our work, hear the stories of the communities we are working with, and meet our colleagues. Below you will find details of the different creative projects included in our showcase.

Photography projects

ARISE Photovoice project – Nairobi, Kenya

This exhibition was created using a selection of images from a Photovoice project undertaken with  community members and co-researchers, living in Korogocho and Viwandani informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.

Co-researchers gathered images, which were then coupled with in-depth interviews, which allowed for deeper understanding of the images. The whole process was consultative and co-creation with diverse community groups helped us to unearth important themes and priorities in the research work.

The exhibition is a selection of some of those images which help describe the experiences and priorities of people living in informal settlements. The images, taken by older people, community health volunteers, people with disabilities, and children who head households, cover themes such as environment and utilities, water and hygiene, work and education, health, disability and accessibility.

Waste pickers and mosquito-borne disease: A photovoice project in India

Waste pickers in India are extremely vulnerable to a range of health problems due to their poor living and unsafe working conditions, and struggle to access the health services they are entitled to. This research uses a community-based participatory research method and focuses specifically on mosquito-borne diseases in two districts of Andhra Pradesh, exploring how they impact the lives of waste pickers, the extent to which waste pickers are reached by preventive interventions and potential opportunities for better prevention and control of these diseases.

Photovoice was used to understand community perspectives, highlighting how issues such as poor housing, inadequate water supply and lack of drainage increase waste pickers’ vulnerability. Disconnection from the health system and local government impacts the ability of waste pickers to access preventive interventions and seek care. This project was led by Bea Egid and Pavani Pendyala.

Lives During the Pandemic in Urban Informal Settlements: A photo project from Bangladesh

Photographs included in the Lives During the Pandemic in Urban Informal Settlements photobook were taken with community members from Green Land (Khulna), Bajekazla (Rajshahi) and Shyampur (Dhaka) communities. It tells the stories of how most marginalised people in urban informal settlements of Bangladesh were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they came together to respond to the challenges.

This action was stimulated and facilitated by ARISE project and is one element of the project’s research supporting health, wellbeing and accountability. The stories are emotional, and they draw on memories of the initial phases of COVID-19. They also offer hope, documenting how communities can provide social and material support in times of strife.

Shadowing waste workers on their waste-picking routes in Vijayawada, India: Photo essay

Located on the banks of the Krishna river in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada is the second largest city in the state by population and the third most densely populated urban built-up area in the world, with around 31,200 people per square km.

As with most cities, Vijayawada has a waste disposal problem. Waste pickers working in the informal sector in Vijayawada are scattered across the city and live in slums, some even live on the fringes of these slums. Shrutika Murthy shadowed waste picker ‘Suvartha’, in the hopes of further understanding her work and experiences, while Prasanna Subramanya Saligram shadowed waste picker ‘Kishore’. Both Shrutika and Prasanna are part of The George Institute for Global Health India.


ARISE documentary – Freetown, Sierra Leone

This short video documentary filmed in Freetown, Sierra Leone, documents the approach and impact of the ARISE project in informal settlements.  Our five-minute film looks into ARISE work on health accountability and community empowerment, the role of community members as co-researchers in our participatory research approach, and how we have worked to document the realities of life in informal settlements.

Power of Light documentary – Freetown, Sierra Leone

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, world renowned artist Luke Jerram worked to install 21 solar powered LED streetlights in the informal settlements of Freetown, Sierra Leone in collaboration with ARISE. We installed the permanent lighting in public areas including water collection areas, alleyways, and toilets.

The Power of Light documentary follows the project, as Luke and the ARISE team collaborated with local artists to create paper lanterns around ARISE themes of safety, education, work, play and pride, they were paraded through Freetown as part of a street lighting opening ceremony.  The 60 small LED lights used to illuminate the lanterns were then given away to the participating children afterwards enabling them to navigate at night more safely and do their homework in the evenings.

Water, sanitation and hygiene in Kenya’s informal settlements – Nairobi, Kenya

This video, filmed in Korogocho and Viwandani informal settlements in Nairobi, looks at the issues surrounding water, sanitation and hygiene in Kenya’s informal settlements.

Life and wellbeing in the slums of Dhaka – Dhaka, Bangladesh

This short documentary provides an insight into life in the informal settlements of Dhaka.

Audio projects

Songs of the waste workers – various cities, India

ARISE partners worked with professional artists to record awareness raising songs, sung by waste workers in India. These songs discuss themes of housing, sanitation, safety at work and workers’ rights, among other issues that effect this vulnerable population. The songs are played in the background of our videos about shadowing waste workers in Vijayawada.