SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Interconnections Dr Bowyer ’ s applied work is focused on air and plastics pollution , especially their health impacts among poorer communities . However , she says the approach is just as valid – and beneficial – within more affluent communities .
“ The power of creative communication methods is their ability to break down barriers between scientists – with their empirical , data-driven messaging – and the people they are trying to help .”
Her priority target is the one-billion-strong global population of urban poor living in informal settlements and slums . Her methods are especially valuable in attracting community involvement in a project , and then working with community champions to co-create outputs .
Take Dennis Waweru , one of Mukuru ’ s 500,000-plus population . Mr Waweru is a photographer and , like the rappers , he participates in research-driven initiatives to counter impacts from air pollution , plastics and the COVID-19 pandemic . Mr Waweru ’ s photography starkly illustrates the reality of a settlement that is surrounded by polluting industries and which hosts a dumping site for garbage generated across the country , including from hospitals and industry . His photos are showcased in a video where he talks about the impact of this pollution on the health of his community . The video has been uploaded to YouTube by the Stockholm Environment Institute . In it , Mr Waweru points out the chain reaction that pollution has on health and wellbeing , starting with children and the illness that prevents them attending school , with all the flow-on impacts this has on the rest of their lives . He notes how these circumstances are aggravated by a lack of sanitation and other basic civic infrastructure . Of particular concern to him is the lack of clean energy to cook food since the settlement is reliant on charcoal and kerosene , which generate hazardous indoor pollution including airborne carcinogens . Action research has given Mr Waweru a voice through his photography and in 2018 he won the Mr Mukuru competition , which landed him the role of community ambassador .
“ Through co-production methods like digital storytelling , photodocumentary or theatre , we generate understanding about the actual lived consequences on someone ’ s life ,” says Dr Bowyer .
“ It ’ s that deeper connection and understanding that ultimately makes a difference .”
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Change-makers need to engage in two-way conversations and that ultimately means change , too , must flow both ways .
– Dr Cressida Bowyer where ideas inspire .
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