Through Children’s Eyes

Exhibition: Network | October 7, 2011 by

Despite being disproportionally affected by environmental problems that afflict informal settlements, children are not considered stakeholders in urban planning and management processes that impact them. Kampala is located in a valley; those at the bottom of the valley face markedly worse conditions during rainy season. Children, who make up 56% of the Ugandan population, are particularly vulnerable to water borne diseases. Through Children’s Eyes advocated for the inclusion of children’s voices in the planning process by illustrating their value in participatory research. Three focus groups of 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls, aged 9–12 were selected from 3 communities, representing the socio-economic spectrum in Kampala. The three communities represented were: Bwaise, an informal settlement area that frequently floods; Makerere II, an informal settlement with less flooding; and Kasubi, a formal settlement with few floods.

The children were asked to create drawings depicting their experiences dealing with environmental issues. Each child completed two sets of drawings, one illustrating environmental problems near their homes and another about issues affecting the local community. In the end, more than 60 drawings were created. The children presented their drawings to the group to ensure that the data-rich drawings were not misinterpreted through adult eyes of a different cultural lens. The connections illustrated in the drawings, such as the market’s proximity to public toilets and the children’s concern for hygiene, were not mentioned by the adults in the community. Other children linked sickness and death with floodwaters; many adults were shocked the children had made this connection. Such instances demonstrated the importance of including children in the discussion about water, sanitation, waste management and housing that determine urban environmental quality.

Designer: Sarah McCans, International Development Research Centre. Kampala, Uganda, 2007

http://www.idrc.ca/EN/Resources/Publications/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?PublicationID=81 

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