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

West, Sarah E.; Bowyer, Cressida J.; Apondo, William; Büker, Patrick; Cinderby, Steve; Gray, Cindy M.; Hahn, Matthew; Lambe, Fiona; Loh, Miranda; Medcalf, Alexander; Muhoza, Cassilde; Muindi, Kanyiva; Njoora, Timothy Kamau; Twigg, Marsailidh M.; Waelde, Charlotte; Walnycki, Anna; Wainwright, Megan; Wendler, Jana; Wilson, Mike; Price, Heather D.

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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

Jana Wendler

Mike 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.


West, S. E., Bowyer, C. J., Apondo, W., Büker, P., Cinderby, S., Gray, C. M., …Price, H. D. (2021). Using a co-created transdisciplinary approach to explore the complexity of air pollution in informal settlements. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 2, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 19, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2022
Journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
Electronic ISSN 2662-9992
Publisher Springer Nature
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 1
Public URL


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