Loughborough University
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Using a co-created transdisciplinary approach to explore the complexity of air pollution in informal settlements

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posted on 2021-11-22, 10:27 authored by Sarah E West, Cressida J Bowyer, William Apondo, Patrick Büker, Steve Cinderby, Cindy M Gray, Matthew Hahn, Fiona Lambe, Miranda Loh, Alexander Medcalf, Cassilde Muhoza, Kanyiva Muindi, Timothy Kamau Njoora, Marsailidh M Twigg, Charlotte Waelde, Anna Walnycki, Megan Wainwright, Jana Wendler, Michael WilsonMichael Wilson, Heather D Price
We present novel co-created transdisciplinary research that uses arts and humanities methods to explore air pollution in an informal settlement (Mukuru) in Nairobi, Kenya. Air pollution is a well-documented major human health issue, but despite many air pollution reduction interventions designed to improve health, these are frequently ineffective. Often this is because they fail to account for local knowledge, cultural practices and priorities of the intended recipients. Designing solutions therefore requires in-depth exploration of relevant issues with stakeholders. Researchers worked collaboratively with local residents to develop a range of methods to explore understandings of air pollution including interviews, storytelling, participatory mapping and theatre. Together, we uncovered contrasting definitions of air pollution, differing perceptions of who was responsible for enacting solutions, and overall a view that air pollution cannot be seen in isolation from the other issues faced by settlement residents. The methods used also allowed us to communicate about the topic with a wide audience. While we acknowledge that this research approach is more time consuming than traditional approaches, we urge other researchers wishing to address multifactorial problems, such as air pollution to use a mixture of qualitative, participatory and creative methods to engage with a wide range of stakeholders to elicit new and unexpected understandings that may not otherwise emerge.


The AIR Network - Action for Interdisciplinary air pollution Research

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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  • Design and Creative Arts


  • Creative Arts

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Humanities and Social Sciences Communications




Springer Nature


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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer Nature under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Prof Michael Wilson. Deposit date: 19 November 2021

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