Developing a Community Centered Approach in Public Health Advocacy: Utilizing Existing Community Social Groups ‘Chamas’ in Nairobi Urban Informal Settlements in Kenya
Keywords:Community participation, Social groups, Health advocacy, Urban Informal Settlements
Poverty not only alienates people from the benefits of the health care system but also prevents them from participating in decision making which contributes to their overall health. People living in the urban informal settlements are prone to more health inequalities due to the provision of poor health and social services[i]. Most of the solutions developed are spearheaded by people outside of the community and have inadequate community participation. Despite their disadvantaged economic situation, many community members have the potential to develop and implement development-conscious initiatives[ii]. This can be manifested by the existence of social groups initiated by the local residents. These groups operate as savings' structures, pooled investment platforms, and offer credit facilities to their members[iii]. They are locally known as "chamas." These "chamas" can be united under one umbrella body to advocate for better health and social services in the slums with the assistance of "influencers" and mainstream media.
[i] Chege, Ezekiel N. "Challenges of Slum Upgrading for Urban Informal Settlements; Case of Soweto East Village in Kibera Informal Settlements, City of Nairobi." PhD diss., University of Nairobi, 2013
[ii] Satterthwaite, David, Diana Mitlin, and Sheela Patel. "Engaging with the urban poor and their organizations for poverty reduction and urban governance." New York, US: UNDP (2011).
[iii] Mwiti, F., & Goulding, C. (2018). Strategies for community improvement to tackle poverty and gender issues: An ethnography of community based organizations (‘Chamas’) and women's interventions in the Nairobi slums. European Journal of Operational Research, 268(3), 875-886.
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