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

Cressida Bowyer, Sarah West*, William Apondo, Patrick Buker, Steve Cinderby, Cindy Gray, Matthew Hahn, Fiona Lambe, Miranda Loh, Alexander Medcalfe, Cassilde Muhoza, Kanyiva Muindi, Timothy Njoora, Marsailidh Twigg, Charlotte Waelde, Anna Walnycki, Megan Wainwright, Jana Wendler, Mike Wilson, Heather Price

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number285
Number of pages13
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2021


  • transdisciplinary
  • participatory
  • creative methods
  • air pollution
  • UKRI
  • MRC
  • AHRC
  • AH/R006059/1


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