S4E4 - Participatory action research: from community collected data to action and change

Media 6 May 2022

In this week’s episode we hear from our co-host Robinson Karuga in his role as a Research, Evaluation and Learning Manager at LVCT. Robinson has been part of a team implementing a participatory action research approach to improve health and wellbeing in two informal settlements in Nairobi. Robinson shares with us: 

  • How data collected with community co-researchers using photovoice (see S4E1) was presented to key stakeholders like chiefs, village elders, civil society organisations and community volunteers so they could identify and prioritise key health and wellbeing issues  
  • The development of work improvement teams that were responsible for driving actions for change together with key decision makers, government bodies and those who held power such as police 
  • The journey from data collection to problem identification, root cause analysis, developing actions and implementing them within the system 
  • The role of researchers as facilitators, coaches, and morale support, as well as assessing and navigating power dynamics through reflexivity 

Robinson Karuga is a Health Systems and Policy Research specialist. His area of specialization is community health systems research, with a focus on community participation in governance and embedding of quality improvement approaches. Karuga is a co-investigator in ARISE (Accountability and Responsiveness in Informal Settlements for Equity), a multi-country research consortium that seeks to generate evidence on how to apply community-based participatory approaches to empower marginalized residents of urban informal settlements to advocate for improvements to factors that affect their health and wellbeing. Within ARISE, Robinson connects citizens with science through the implementation of community-based participatory research such as photo voice and building the capacity of co-researchers in reflexive methods. 

Robinson Karuga

Research, Evaluation and Learning Manager, LVCT Health 

As the Research Capacity Strengthening lead in the ARISE Consortium, Karuga is responsible for developing and implementing the Consortium’s capacity strengthening strategy that targets 29 early and mid-career researchers, a Ph.D. cohort of 9 candidates, and community co-researchers in four countries across Africa (Kenya, Sierra Leone) and Asia (India and Bangladesh).Robinson Karuga is currently the Research Evaluations and Learning Manager at LVCT Health, a Kenyan not-for-profit organization that seeks to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable and marginalized populations through research, technical support to governments, and policy advocacy.  

This is a podcast in the series: Connecting Citizens to Science, which focuses on health research based on equitable partnerships between researchers and communities.