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Urban Health - Community Based Participatory PhDs in Informal Settlements.
24th October 2022 • Connecting Citizens to Science • The SCL Agency
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In this week's episode, we will be hearing from two PhD students from the ARISE Consortium. ARISE stands for accountability and responsiveness in informal settlements for equity, and is about promoting social change for improved health and wellbeing with communities and people living and working within urban informal spaces.

This episodes guests:

Bachera Aktar

Assistant Director, The Centre of Excellence for Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (CGSRHR); and PhD student

A public health researcher and academic with more than 13 years of experience of implementing community-based public health interventions and research in Bangladesh. An advocate of community/people-centric health interventions. The areas of her research interest and work include community-based participatory research, action research, health systems research, health and gender equity, socio-political determinants of health, and humanitarian health systems. Bachera works with marginalised communities living in informal urban settlements and humanitarian settings.  

Relevant information sources:

Google Scholar - https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ckDgGNcAAAAJ&hl=en  

Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/bachera-aktar-bd/  

ORCID: Bachera Aktar (https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0242-1792

ARISE: www.ariseconsortium.org  

BRAC University - https://www.bracu.ac.bd/about/people/bachera-aktar 

Samuel Saidu

Currently, Samuel works on a project that is multi-country and focused on residents of informal settlements. In Sierra Leone, Samuel's project works within 3 communities where the research aims are to provide empowerment opportunities to community residents based on data-driven development.  

Samuel works with co-researchers (community residents who are now assistants to the research team) and are capacitated based on their various levels of education. They are involved in designing the study/research, data collection, analysis of data, and dissemination.  

The community people are the centre of the research in the sense that they are part of the research and play a key role at all levels. It is critical to know that the community people are part of the research team but are also participants.  

Relevant information sources:

ARISE: https://www.ariseconsortium.org/news-events/ 

IDS: https://bulletin.ids.ac.uk/index.php/idsbo/article/view/3119 

TWITTER HANDLES

@samuelsaidu0  @AktarBachera @ARISEHub @UKRI_News @BRACJPGSPH @BRACUniversity @COMAHS_USL @GCRF @SclAgency

This is a podcast is produced by The SCL Agency and is part of Connecting Citizens to Science which focuses on health research based on equitable partnerships between researchers and communities.

If you would like to be a guest, co-host or have your own series designed for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We'd love to speak to you about your ideas!

Transcripts

Kim Ozano:

Hello listeners and welcome to the Connecting

Kim Ozano:

Citizens to Science podcast.

Kim Ozano:

I'm Dr.

Kim Ozano:

Kim Ozano and I will be having conversations about how people and

Kim Ozano:

communities connect with research and science to co-produce solutions

Kim Ozano:

to global health challenges.

Kim Ozano:

In this week's episode, we will be hearing from two PhD students who

Kim Ozano:

are part of the Arise Consortium.

Kim Ozano:

ARISE stands for accountability and responsiveness in informal settlements

Kim Ozano:

for equity, and is about promoting social change for improved health and wellbeing

Kim Ozano:

with communities and people living and working within urban informal spaces.

Kim Ozano:

Enjoy the episode.

Kim Ozano:

Welcome to the Connecting Citizens to Science Podcast.

Kim Ozano:

We have a very special episode today.

Kim Ozano:

We have two PhD students, joining us to talk about their journey into

Kim Ozano:

deciding what PhD to do, what it was like choosing methods and how their

Kim Ozano:

methods have put communities at the center of the work that they do.

Kim Ozano:

So let's meet them.

Kim Ozano:

Hello Bachera.

Kim Ozano:

Welcome today.

Kim Ozano:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background.

Bachera Aktar:

Hi Kim.

Bachera Aktar:

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity I'm Bachera Aktar I'm from

Bachera Aktar:

Bangladesh I work with, uh, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, uh, under

Bachera Aktar:

BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Bachera Aktar:

And I'm a part-time PhD student at Liverpool School of Tropical.

Bachera Aktar:

So my PhD topic is, uh, on informal and formal governance networks in urban

Bachera Aktar:

informal settlements in Bangladesh and how those network help or facilitate

Bachera Aktar:

or create barriers in availing health services for the residents.

Kim Ozano:

Before we go on and, and think about why you even chose

Kim Ozano:

this PhD, let's hear from Sammy.

Kim Ozano:

Sammy, welcome.

Kim Ozano:

How are you today?

Kim Ozano:

And tell us a bit about yourself

Samuel Saidu:

Yeah.

Samuel Saidu:

Um, good morning, Kim.

Samuel Saidu:

Um, I am Samuel Saidu uh, and I'm from Serria Leone.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm.

Samuel Saidu:

, Um, well, initially I'm, I was a pharmacist and then Master's in Public

Samuel Saidu:

Health and, uh, now doing PhD, um, at LSTM through the Arise Project, uh, linked

Samuel Saidu:

with the University of Sierra Leone.

Kim Ozano:

Excellent, and I think for our listeners, what's an interesting

Kim Ozano:

dynamic today that I learned is that Bachera was actually your supervisor at

Kim Ozano:

one point in Bangladesh, is that correct?

Samuel Saidu:

Yeah, absolutely.

Samuel Saidu:

She taught me and also supervise my, um, Masters dissertation, which is

Samuel Saidu:

called Summative Learning Project.

Kim Ozano:

So you're from Sierra Leone and you did your Masters in Bangladesh.

Kim Ozano:

How did that happen?

Samuel Saidu:

Um, I have, um, a senior colleague.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm also a pharmacist, uh, who actually, um, had the opportunity to go to

Samuel Saidu:

Bangladesh, um, and study the Masters of Public Health at BRAC James P Grant School

Samuel Saidu:

of Public Health and when he went back, um, he was recruited in an organization

Samuel Saidu:

I was working, eHealth Africa.

Samuel Saidu:

Then we had to discuss about progress and next steps.

Samuel Saidu:

Then he introduced me to the website and gave me the link and then I applied.

Samuel Saidu:

I found it very useful at the end cause um, the teaching and learning in

Samuel Saidu:

uh, the school actually made me change the rest of my ideas and career path.

Kim Ozano:

Why was that?

Kim Ozano:

What, what particularly made you do your experience, change your ideas?

Samuel Saidu:

Um, I think as a pharmacist I meet very less people , I will not

Samuel Saidu:

meet more than 100 people physically.

Samuel Saidu:

But, um, as a public health researcher, um, I think I have the opportunity

Samuel Saidu:

to meet probably half of the world.

Samuel Saidu:

Since I had that feeling that I can meet more people through public

Samuel Saidu:

health, and I can change things through public health innovations.

Samuel Saidu:

I thought moving towards that aspect can help the world more.

Samuel Saidu:

Freetown is a tiny town of less than 2 million people, and we

Samuel Saidu:

have like 78 slums in Freetown.

Samuel Saidu:

So people call Freetown a big slum mm-hmm.

Samuel Saidu:

so that situation of where I am able to support the poor, marginalised and people

Samuel Saidu:

who really may not know what exactly they're doing makes me more interested

Samuel Saidu:

in public health and what I'm doing now.

Samuel Saidu:

now When I actually heard that I can do a PhD and I can do a PhD linked

Samuel Saidu:

with informal settlement which is actually slum, mm-hmm, then I

Samuel Saidu:

really felt that, I think my dream is coming through where I can use my

Samuel Saidu:

knowledge to actually change things.

Samuel Saidu:

So I am really hoping that my PhD will come out to change and bring some kind

Samuel Saidu:

of innovation and especially among the topic I have chosen, which is actually

Samuel Saidu:

linked with young people living in slums.

Kim Ozano:

Wonderful.

Kim Ozano:

I think that's great.

Kim Ozano:

So just before we go any further, tell us the context of the work.

Kim Ozano:

So informal settlements, paint us a picture.

Kim Ozano:

What are they like?

Bachera Aktar:

So the informal settlements are that, uh, commonly known as

Bachera Aktar:

slum, but we don't use the term slum.

Bachera Aktar:

Uh, and also in my research, because the communities, it's kind of a, uh, the term

Bachera Aktar:

itself is, uh, kind of insulting to them.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm , so they don't like to introduce themselves as slum dwellers, so they want,

Bachera Aktar:

uh, recognition, legal recognitions, and the use of the term of slum is kind of,

Bachera Aktar:

uh, create barriers for their development.

Bachera Aktar:

So that's, that's why they don't like it.

Bachera Aktar:

And we also, you know, my research, I also don't use the term slum.

Bachera Aktar:

We use informal settlements.

Bachera Aktar:

I work in two informal settlements for my PhD, so the one settlement is

Bachera Aktar:

established in, uh, government land.

Bachera Aktar:

So it's uh, one of the oldest informal settlements in Dhaka city.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm.

Bachera Aktar:

So haka is the capital of Bangladesh and that informal settlement

Bachera Aktar:

established around, um, 45 years back.

Bachera Aktar:

Wow.

Bachera Aktar:

So it's been long time there.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm.

Bachera Aktar:

. So it's more stable and there are many, uh, service providers

Bachera Aktar:

and many services also available.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm.

Bachera Aktar:

, like they have a very good system of water sanitation.

Bachera Aktar:

They have some legal lines for water sanitation, for electricity.

Bachera Aktar:

Some part of that settlement also has legal supply for gas and, uh,

Bachera Aktar:

the opposite scenario is the, another settlement that I'm working with.

Bachera Aktar:

So the, that the settlement, which is named as shyampur which is kind of a

Bachera Aktar:

new settlement, uh, it was previously not part of the city corporations.

Bachera Aktar:

So it's also at the border of Dhaka City.

Bachera Aktar:

Okay.

Bachera Aktar:

So because of it's geographical location and history of uh, uh,

Bachera Aktar:

kind of, it's a new settlement.

Bachera Aktar:

So there is not many service providers and services available there and that,

Bachera Aktar:

uh, informal settlement is also very scattered and some part of the settlement

Bachera Aktar:

is kind of a floating settlement.

Bachera Aktar:

Okay so it's very close to the industrial area and the industrial waste solid and

Bachera Aktar:

um, liquid waste are all, all actually where uh, goes to nearby water bodies.

Bachera Aktar:

So the people who are very poor, very vulnerable in the settlement, they

Bachera Aktar:

actually live in those floating houses.

Bachera Aktar:

So they have different level of vulnerabilities.

Bachera Aktar:

So there are actually two, uh, the characteristics of the two

Bachera Aktar:

settlements I'm working for my PhD is completely different.

Bachera Aktar:

Yeah.

Bachera Aktar:

So I'm trying to understand actually their, their governance system because

Bachera Aktar:

for this, uh, the established one, even the government system is also

Bachera Aktar:

established, but for the new one the governance systems is very fluid,

Bachera Aktar:

very, uh, it's not strong actually.

Bachera Aktar:

And what I have found, that they also don't have any strong network,

Bachera Aktar:

Okay, to raise their voice.

Bachera Aktar:

So this is a scenario,

Kim Ozano:

Two very different contexts there and I think what's

Kim Ozano:

really interesting is that, um, we often don't think about informal

Kim Ozano:

settlements as being so established.

Kim Ozano:

So the, the first one that you mentioned, you know, has this history and has

Kim Ozano:

formal services by the sounds of it.

Kim Ozano:

And then you have this new one.

Kim Ozano:

So it'd be really interesting to, to hear about that.

Kim Ozano:

Governance actors.

Kim Ozano:

So for our listeners, can you give us some examples?

Bachera Aktar:

Oh, sure.

Bachera Aktar:

So, uh, governance actors are those who have, uh, who made actually make decisions

Bachera Aktar:

regarding any services that we get and sometimes they're also providing services.

Kim Ozano:

Mm-hmm.

Kim Ozano:

, Bachera Aktar: for example, uh, in my

Kim Ozano:

So there are two types of governance actors.

Kim Ozano:

One is formal, which is like, Public, like government, ministry of health,

Kim Ozano:

ministry of local government, city corporations, and also some, um,

Kim Ozano:

NGOs like the service providers were providing services, they are also kind

Kim Ozano:

of governance, formal governance actors because they are involved in providing

Kim Ozano:

those services to the community.

Kim Ozano:

And the informal governance actors are the community leaders, and also some,

Kim Ozano:

uh, in community influential people; Landlords in, in the specific community

Kim Ozano:

and also some local political leaders.

Kim Ozano:

And, uh, there are also, uh, another form of formal governance actors in informal

Kim Ozano:

settlement is the ward councilors.

Kim Ozano:

So they actually have kind of dual role for both formal and informal.

Kim Ozano:

So I think I will discuss later about different methods than I'm applying.

Kim Ozano:

Sammy, moving to your PhD and the, the kind of focus there, it's

Kim Ozano:

around young people you mentioned earlier.

Kim Ozano:

So tell us a bit more about that.

Kim Ozano:

Yeah,

Samuel Saidu:

my umbrella topic is, um, understanding the health and wellbeing

Samuel Saidu:

of young people living in informal settlement but, um, uh, at the same time,

Samuel Saidu:

um, even though I want to understand how they actually um, defined health and

Samuel Saidu:

wellbeing, their own health and wellbeing.

Samuel Saidu:

I also want them to give me, um, practical solutions of how these problems can be

Samuel Saidu:

reasonably solved at community level.

Samuel Saidu:

So I don't want a solution suggested by policy makers or I don't want the solution

Samuel Saidu:

suggested by, uh, the community people.

Samuel Saidu:

but through Like saying we want the government to build this.

Samuel Saidu:

We want the, the, uh, NGOs to bring this.

Samuel Saidu:

How can you as community organize yourselves to actually bring solution

Samuel Saidu:

that can last maybe forever and serve you well within your community?

Samuel Saidu:

How can you organize your own community and make it a

Samuel Saidu:

better place for you to live?

Samuel Saidu:

How will you be able to tell someone?

Samuel Saidu:

Don't live here and stop anyone from living beyond this point because it

Samuel Saidu:

is dangerous to live, mm-hmm, tell somebody that this structure should

Samuel Saidu:

not be built within this community because this is dangerous for us, our

Samuel Saidu:

children, and the generation after us.

Samuel Saidu:

So what solutions are they bringing?

Samuel Saidu:

So I am doing what I call co-production of knowledge, of reasonable solutions

Samuel Saidu:

that can make the living, health and wellbeing of those residents, especially

Samuel Saidu:

among young people, reasonable enough.

Samuel Saidu:

So, um, those are really my objectives and I hopefully, um, be able to have

Samuel Saidu:

them um, factual to policy makers and tell them these are the problems and

Samuel Saidu:

these are the solutions we can be able to have, to ensure that this is being

Samuel Saidu:

resolved like permanently because it's a community based participatory study.

Kim Ozano:

Wonderful.

Kim Ozano:

These both sound hugely intriguing.

Kim Ozano:

How did you select the methods that you use?

Kim Ozano:

What evidence are you collecting and how will you present it to make that change?

Bachera Aktar:

For me, uh, I'm, uh, using, completely participatory methods.

Bachera Aktar:

So this is also kind of pilot testing for me as well because I have never done this,

Bachera Aktar:

the way I'm doing currently participating method, I have never done before.

Bachera Aktar:

So for me, uh, I am doing, uh, it called governance mapping where I try to

Bachera Aktar:

understand the whole governance network system, both formal and informal system in

Bachera Aktar:

the settlements, how those work, what the actors, what are the facilitator factors?

Bachera Aktar:

What are the barriers in those networks?

Bachera Aktar:

How those two networks collaborate with each other or may create barriers

Bachera Aktar:

with each other or conflict, have, have conflicts with each other.

Bachera Aktar:

So that's one method.

Bachera Aktar:

And in that method, I, uh, have a group discussions with, uh, community people,

Bachera Aktar:

different types of community people, like person with disabilities, like women

Bachera Aktar:

who are single or who are the female headed household head of households.

Bachera Aktar:

I also have, uh, group discussions with informal workers who are living there,

Bachera Aktar:

and also with the, uh, community leaders.

Bachera Aktar:

So with the discussions with multiple types of, uh, participants, I try

Bachera Aktar:

to understand their point of view about what is accountability to them?

Bachera Aktar:

What is governance to them?

Bachera Aktar:

What are the networks, how they, uh, are linked with that networks?

Bachera Aktar:

What are the factors that help them to be part of that network?

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm.

Bachera Aktar:

and, and their decision making, uh, power in that network.

Bachera Aktar:

So that is one of the method.

Bachera Aktar:

And another method is, oh, it's called governance diaries.

Bachera Aktar:

So in that method, I will select some households in, in the two settlements

Bachera Aktar:

and I will have a kind of a follow up with them for certain period of time.

Bachera Aktar:

And that method is more about individual level.

Bachera Aktar:

So I will try to understand that what are the factors that actually help

Bachera Aktar:

them to be part of that network and if they're part of that network, how

Bachera Aktar:

that help them to avail some service.

Bachera Aktar:

Or maybe if there is any other factors that actually create barriers for them

Bachera Aktar:

to be, to participate in that network.

Bachera Aktar:

And if that's so then, then how that, uh, impact in their daily lives, especially

Bachera Aktar:

for their access to health services.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm, so, uh, these are the two very interesting methods.

Bachera Aktar:

Uh, and um, yeah, I have completed one method, the governance network mapping

Bachera Aktar:

and I have found very interesting findings and also some challenges with the

Bachera Aktar:

application of participatory methods with this very sensitive topic, because

Bachera Aktar:

in our context discussing governance issues with the community leaders and

Bachera Aktar:

also the people in a group setting, that is also kind of a challenging because

Bachera Aktar:

there are some, uh, governance issues that people actually don't want to share,

Bachera Aktar:

but that's a very important for their access to services and availability

Bachera Aktar:

of the services in their community.

Bachera Aktar:

Those are the things I'm doing and I also will do, it's called organograph method,

Bachera Aktar:

so that is also another participated method where I will involve policy makers.

Bachera Aktar:

So that will be kind of a discussion with them to know their perspectives, how they

Bachera Aktar:

think about governance issues and how they actually link up with the informal

Bachera Aktar:

sector, uh, governance actors and also what is their planning for urban health.

Bachera Aktar:

So these are the participated methods I will be applying in my research and in

Bachera Aktar:

addition to that, I will also do policy analysis and also interview some of

Bachera Aktar:

the policy makers to understand their perspective and their, their plan for

Bachera Aktar:

the future urban health for Bangladesh.

Bachera Aktar:

And, uh, these are my methods.

Bachera Aktar:

And, uh, I have actually come up with these methods.

Bachera Aktar:

I did lots of, uh, search mm-hmm.

Bachera Aktar:

to look at that, what can be the best method to talk

Bachera Aktar:

about this governance issues.

Bachera Aktar:

And I did lots of literature review and I found this, these two methods, especially

Bachera Aktar:

the governance diaries is and governance, uh, network mapping, these two, uh,

Bachera Aktar:

best fit for my research question.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm.

Bachera Aktar:

. And then, uh, I did pilot of with the governance network mapping

Bachera Aktar:

and that was very successful.

Bachera Aktar:

And that actually, uh, helped me to more be more confident about the method,

Bachera Aktar:

but when I actually applied the method, uh, in the real world, real field, uh,

Bachera Aktar:

I actually faced lots of challenges.

Bachera Aktar:

But that's also learning for me, each method actually helped me

Bachera Aktar:

to improve my facilitation skill, improve my method, and also my tools.

Bachera Aktar:

So that's also very good learning experience for me.

Bachera Aktar:

I'm now more mature, I should say, about the method and also more confident

Bachera Aktar:

about how to talk, how to interact with different types of participants.

Kim Ozano:

Yeah.

Kim Ozano:

On this podcast, we've heard a lot about the importance of embedding

Kim Ozano:

yourself within the, the context where you want to work . Sammy, did you

Kim Ozano:

have the same experience of working with young people, tell us about the

Kim Ozano:

methods and how you found applying them.

Samuel Saidu:

I looked at the fact that I have to bring in maybe two methods to

Samuel Saidu:

ensure that I am able to actually have, uh, the data I will need, rich enough

Samuel Saidu:

to have my output and, um, what is needed for young people living in slums.

Samuel Saidu:

So one of my method that I always start with is social mapping.

Samuel Saidu:

So I try to map the communities and understand what do they

Samuel Saidu:

have within the community.

Samuel Saidu:

So the young people themselves will map their community and tell me what they have

Samuel Saidu:

within the community, especially things that relate to their health and wellbeing.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm.

Samuel Saidu:

. So we map the communities and we on all of us understand what exactly

Samuel Saidu:

they have within this community.

Samuel Saidu:

So I get my participant like 11 to 15 participants from one community.

Samuel Saidu:

Men and 11 to 15 women, or boys and girls, but we try to draw

Samuel Saidu:

them from different sections.

Samuel Saidu:

So ARISE initially had already mapped these communities, uh, geographically.

Kim Ozano:

Mm-hmm.

Samuel Saidu:

So we have already a GIS map of the community, and these communities

Samuel Saidu:

have been divided into sub sections.

Samuel Saidu:

So I draw them from different sections and bring them together,

Samuel Saidu:

draw the map of their community, get everything that affect their health and

Samuel Saidu:

wellbeing, then I do Venn diagraming.

Samuel Saidu:

So how are these issues you have done already?

Samuel Saidu:

You have drawn from the social map.

Samuel Saidu:

How are they link to each other?

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm.

Samuel Saidu:

So I want to have a vendor diagram where you link them together.

Samuel Saidu:

So with the support of co-researchers, they help me get these Venn diagram, link,

Samuel Saidu:

these issues they have already listed on the maps, I mean social map, together.

Samuel Saidu:

Then I will do wellbeing ranking.

Samuel Saidu:

So when I was doing wellbeing ranking, we tried to state the issues that affect

Samuel Saidu:

their wellbeing, and then we rank them.

Samuel Saidu:

What do you prioritize most?

Samuel Saidu:

Then?

Samuel Saidu:

Then, then, so try to list them.

Samuel Saidu:

Then we ask why, and if you say this, why is this and why

Samuel Saidu:

is this not coming before this?

Samuel Saidu:

And what are the issues that are really affecting this?

Samuel Saidu:

So we try to make sure we rank them very well.

Samuel Saidu:

I try to also understand a bit from key informants.

Samuel Saidu:

So key informants are people who really interact with these young people,

Samuel Saidu:

so they can be within the community.

Samuel Saidu:

They can also be outside the community.

Samuel Saidu:

So within the community, like the community chiefs, community elders,

Samuel Saidu:

people who have organizations within the community are providing service for

Samuel Saidu:

young people within that community and also outside the community there are

Samuel Saidu:

organizations, NGOs, INGOs who work with these young people within the community.

Samuel Saidu:

Like for example, CODOHSAPA , Center of Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty

Samuel Saidu:

Allevation, which is linked to it, SDI, they actually provide a lot of services.

Samuel Saidu:

They call them FEDURP in Sierra Leone, Federation of Urban and Rural Poor.

Samuel Saidu:

So they work with these young people, so I talk to them as key informant.

Samuel Saidu:

I talk to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation personnel who

Samuel Saidu:

actually work with young people, wings within the ministry.

Samuel Saidu:

I also talk to Ministry of Youth Affairs, especially the National

Samuel Saidu:

Youth Commission, Youth Coordinator.

Samuel Saidu:

So these are people who really I talk to, the Freetown city council work a

Samuel Saidu:

lot with the young people within the informal settlement especially on garbage

Samuel Saidu:

collections, sanitation, et cetera.

Samuel Saidu:

So I also brought them in as key informants to let me understand how really

Samuel Saidu:

this problem the youth stated affect, um, the general health and wellbeing of

Samuel Saidu:

them and other people around them within the information settlement and how will

Samuel Saidu:

that affect the health or wellbeing of the country as a whole of Freetown.

Samuel Saidu:

Then narrative interview is also included young people who are really disadvantaged,

Samuel Saidu:

vulnerable, they are extremely sick, they are extremely poor, they are

Samuel Saidu:

commercial sex workers, et cetera.

Samuel Saidu:

So I try to try to let them narrate their own story and how are these issues really

Samuel Saidu:

affecting their health and wellbeing.

Samuel Saidu:

Then I did a photo voice specifically for young people between 15 and 17 years.

Samuel Saidu:

Why was this age selected?

Samuel Saidu:

I felt that they can express themselves more when they see

Samuel Saidu:

things and not really when talking.

Samuel Saidu:

So, and when, uh, I trained them how to take pictures, which pictures

Samuel Saidu:

they should take, why they should not take some pictures, et cetera.

Samuel Saidu:

So they took very, very nice pictures of things that affect their health

Samuel Saidu:

and wellbeing, they brought them and individually we talk those

Samuel Saidu:

pictures through mm-hmm , depending, uh, based on what satisfied

Samuel Saidu:

them to be discussed in group.

Samuel Saidu:

Then I now bring them in group and project the pictures that

Samuel Saidu:

they selected that, Okay.

Samuel Saidu:

Yes.

Samuel Saidu:

This picture, I can talk about it anywhere but this one.

Samuel Saidu:

No.

Samuel Saidu:

So the one they say no.

Samuel Saidu:

I don't discuss in group, but the one they say yes, I put them together

Samuel Saidu:

and we all sit down and look at the pictures, one after the other.

Samuel Saidu:

So for example, you can see that you have a hanging toilet.

Samuel Saidu:

Somebody might be talking about, it's not hygienic, but some other people

Samuel Saidu:

, they do not concern about hygiene, they are concerned about security.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm.

Samuel Saidu:

, you know, some people are not concerned about both, they are

Samuel Saidu:

concerned about falling down.

Samuel Saidu:

So you can see that everyone has their own dynamics and interpretation of one

Samuel Saidu:

photo, which probably all of them took, but I just had to post one of them

Samuel Saidu:

so that we can discuss those issues.

Samuel Saidu:

But what I have not done at all yet is the co-production.

Samuel Saidu:

So I really want to understand the data properly at this point

Samuel Saidu:

before I bring this data to them.

Samuel Saidu:

Like bring something live.

Samuel Saidu:

This is what you how can we have a solution so that co-production

Samuel Saidu:

will be hopefully done in two to three months from now?

Samuel Saidu:

Yeah, when I shall have understood my data really very well.

Samuel Saidu:

But these are like the methods I use to get my information, which I really want to

Samuel Saidu:

have, um, and present them to the world, to authorities, to people in Sierra Leone,

Samuel Saidu:

actors to see if they can really help support to change those young people's

Samuel Saidu:

views, their health and their wellbeing as they live within those settlements.

Samuel Saidu:

Excellent.

Samuel Saidu:

So, so many methods there, and I understand it'll be a triangulation

Samuel Saidu:

process , where you'll put your different, uh, kind of evidence pieces

Samuel Saidu:

together to, to create a thesis.

Samuel Saidu:

From thesis point, once you write up, what do you think is next in terms

Samuel Saidu:

of making sure that your data creates the change that you aspire to, and

Samuel Saidu:

also what's next for yourselves?

Bachera Aktar:

Uh, well, okay.

Bachera Aktar:

So, uh, for me, uh, I think it's the privilege of being part of a larger

Bachera Aktar:

research project because there are lots of ongoing activities in the

Bachera Aktar:

project where you can also link your and incorporate your PhD findings.

Bachera Aktar:

So for me, uh, I have, I am planning to also share some of my findings with the

Bachera Aktar:

stakeholder meetings, which the ARISE project is planning in Bangladesh so

Bachera Aktar:

that my PhD also will supplement some ARISE data that we have in Bangladesh.

Bachera Aktar:

So that is one way of contribution of my PhD.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm to the project and also to the larger urban landscape in Bangladesh.

Bachera Aktar:

From my PhD, uh, I will write some papers and also I'm planning to do

Bachera Aktar:

some kind of, uh, policy brief, produce some policy briefs, especially for the

Bachera Aktar:

urban policy makers in our context.

Bachera Aktar:

So that will, will another, uh, type of contribution of my PhD for the improvement

Bachera Aktar:

of urban health in, um, in, in Bangladesh.

Bachera Aktar:

And, uh, in future, I actually want to also do some kind of implementation

Bachera Aktar:

research where we can test some of the urban health models based on the.

Bachera Aktar:

PhD findings and also based on the findings of ARISE project.

Bachera Aktar:

So that is my broader goal and aim.

Bachera Aktar:

So I hope that will actually, that will benefit it for our cities also because,

Bachera Aktar:

uh, we still don't know that what will be the next urban primary healthcare for us.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm, so, uh, if we can, and if we have that funding, um, support from the donor

Bachera Aktar:

agencies, that will be really important for us to also test out multiple models

Bachera Aktar:

to look at that, what actually work.

Bachera Aktar:

And not only just testing the models, but also the solutions which

Bachera Aktar:

actually the community produce.

Bachera Aktar:

Because from my research, I have found, there are some local level

Bachera Aktar:

solutions, they're implementing in their daily lives for accessing services.

Bachera Aktar:

So maybe we can, uh, institutionalize those, uh, solutions to think about

Bachera Aktar:

more broader solutions for the urban force in my Bangladesh context.

Bachera Aktar:

So that is my future goal to at least try and test out some of

Bachera Aktar:

the models which work for them.

Bachera Aktar:

Mm-hmm, and produce and, and, uh, produce evidence for the go to think

Bachera Aktar:

more about the different approaches for providing services and uh, yeah,

Bachera Aktar:

and I also would like to do my postdoc on urban health system and, and

Bachera Aktar:

especially the policy and governance.

Bachera Aktar:

So that is my plan for the next coming years.

Kim Ozano:

So for you, the PhD is almost the start of a journey and your passion.

Kim Ozano:

This is the beginning of collecting evidence, but it's not the end.

Kim Ozano:

It's, you know, it will get you your PhD, but it's start of a longer journey, um,

Kim Ozano:

in this field, which is really interesting and, and it's great that you want the

Kim Ozano:

models that you, uh, kind of find through your PhD to be tested and piloted and,

Kim Ozano:

and to see if that can make change.

Kim Ozano:

So that's great.

Kim Ozano:

Sammy, same question to you.

Kim Ozano:

Um, what do you think will happen to your PhD data?

Kim Ozano:

How will it benefit communities and what will be next for you?

Samuel Saidu:

Um, it, it's almost similar, uh, but I believe in

Samuel Saidu:

action rather than research.

Samuel Saidu:

I believe in research, but I believe in action more.

Samuel Saidu:

Uh, what I mean by that is, um, um, when I was in my study site collecting

Samuel Saidu:

data, I had a lot of voices, comments, concerns about 'you guys only

Samuel Saidu:

come and interview us and go away.

Samuel Saidu:

We don't see anything.

Samuel Saidu:

We don't do anything'.

Samuel Saidu:

So it means the participant are getting tired of being talked to, being asked

Samuel Saidu:

questions, all the time, but if you make some actions, then they will feel better.

Samuel Saidu:

Um, what I mean by that, if, um, my goal is really not to end at just

Samuel Saidu:

publication, which I plan to do, um, or making my research findings known, which

Samuel Saidu:

of course there's a platform in Sierra Leone called City Learning Platform,

Samuel Saidu:

where you can share this information and, uh, maybe orally or in any form.

Samuel Saidu:

Um, I also plan to maybe give data, I mean, in any form that they like to

Samuel Saidu:

the co-researchers so that they can be able to like, make request on their

Samuel Saidu:

own and also tell people, No, we have already this, we don't want it anymore.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm , you know, so I also want to empower my co-researchers maybe with

Samuel Saidu:

that kind of information, not very much, but some basic information,

Samuel Saidu:

but my aim really is to ensure that I have an action on my co-production.

Samuel Saidu:

So if the young people are able to maybe prefer solutions that are

Samuel Saidu:

reasonable enough, practical to be implemented, I want to have a

Samuel Saidu:

grant that can really support that.

Samuel Saidu:

So I prefer writing grants supporting these young people and moving them

Samuel Saidu:

from one step to another rather than continuing to collect data and publish.

Samuel Saidu:

So, um, based on that, I already submitted a proposal to, um, I, I just completed

Samuel Saidu:

Mandela Washington Fellowship in the US uh, which is a 10 weeks fellowship,

Samuel Saidu:

uh, with six weeks in university.

Samuel Saidu:

I did four weeks internship with the task force for global health.

Samuel Saidu:

So at the end of your, um, fellowship, you have to submit a proposal

Samuel Saidu:

of something that you are really interested in and want to do and

Samuel Saidu:

want to change in your home country.

Samuel Saidu:

So I submitted a proposal against the end of my PhD so that I will have

Samuel Saidu:

some grant to help start training some young people based on any solution

Samuel Saidu:

that we have in my co-production, which I don't have yet, and that is fine.

Samuel Saidu:

So, that is really what I am aiming at.

Samuel Saidu:

I will want to teach, I will want to continue to do research, but

Samuel Saidu:

I will also want to see how that change can be made among young people

Samuel Saidu:

living in these slum settlement.

Samuel Saidu:

Otherwise, Um, for us in Africa, more than 50% of our population is young.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm, and for Sierra Leone, more than 60% of our population is below 35.

Samuel Saidu:

So if we are not able to take care of them and by 2030, according to UN half

Samuel Saidu:

of the urban population will be living in slums in low and middle income countries.

Samuel Saidu:

So Sierra Leone is low income, not even middle income.

Samuel Saidu:

So we might have more than half of the population living in slum

Samuel Saidu:

and these are mostly young people.

Samuel Saidu:

So it means we are losing the generation from time to time.

Samuel Saidu:

So if I am able to support them, then uplift them from that low poverty

Samuel Saidu:

level among very poor people, then I think I will be happy that I am

Samuel Saidu:

making some change in my community.

Kim Ozano:

Thank you very much.

Kim Ozano:

It's again, the passion comes through from both of you.

Kim Ozano:

How this is not just a PhD at all.

Kim Ozano:

It really is instigated and situated within your heart to to make change

Kim Ozano:

long term, and I can see that the selection of your PhDs has been,

Kim Ozano:

um, really very particular to your interests and your passion as well.

Kim Ozano:

I think that's important when you're deciding your PhD.

Kim Ozano:

I know I felt the same, that it's, you live with your PhD for so many

Kim Ozano:

years, you have to love it and feel passionate or it's difficult.

Kim Ozano:

So just as a, a final comment, what piece of advice would you give

Kim Ozano:

to others that are just starting their PhD planning process?

Kim Ozano:

Uh, Sammy, let's start with you.

Samuel Saidu:

You don't need to see it as like an achievement only, but

Samuel Saidu:

you have to really like it , like, you have to be passionate about it

Samuel Saidu:

because, um, like ours is even more lonely than maybe being on campus?

Samuel Saidu:

We are doing offsite PhD and, um, doing offsite PhD.

Samuel Saidu:

You talk to your supervisors online all the time.

Samuel Saidu:

This is my first time or our first time meeting our supervisors face to face.

Samuel Saidu:

We have been talking to them online.

Samuel Saidu:

We don't know them.

Samuel Saidu:

Mm-hmm , we have not met them before.

Samuel Saidu:

And, uh, they are expecting that, um, you are not taking any lecture.

Samuel Saidu:

You don't have any traditional teaching where you will say, Okay,

Samuel Saidu:

I want to do qualitative research.

Samuel Saidu:

This is what exactly, um, you should do as a qualitative researcher.

Samuel Saidu:

So like when I was doing my Master's, you are taught first in class,

Samuel Saidu:

then you are sent to the field to implement what you have been taught.

Samuel Saidu:

But for this PhD, though the expectation is that you should do it.

Samuel Saidu:

So if you don't really like it, then you will definitelybe in a very big trouble.

Kim Ozano:

Thank you for that.

Kim Ozano:

Um, so Bachera, one piece of advice.

Bachera Aktar:

Oh, okay.

Bachera Aktar:

So, uh, for me, like Sammy already told, so, uh, I'm a

Bachera Aktar:

part-time PhD student and offsite.

Bachera Aktar:

So for me, uh, if anyone wants to do a part-time, offsite PhD, so my piece

Bachera Aktar:

of advice for that person or that upcoming students will be that it's

Bachera Aktar:

very important to know the balance between the study and the work because

Bachera Aktar:

the part-time PhD students usually do work in addition to their PhD or do

Bachera Aktar:

PhD in addition to their good work, I should say, this way actually, because

Bachera Aktar:

that is the thing which happened.

Bachera Aktar:

So it's very important to also have that discussion with, uh work, that this is the

Bachera Aktar:

time you need to focus more on your PhD.

Bachera Aktar:

So this is what I have learned over the last two and a half years of my PhD

Bachera Aktar:

journey that, uh, it's very important to have dedicated time for, for, especially

Bachera Aktar:

for the offsite PhD students and another piece of advice, I should say that it's

Bachera Aktar:

also very important to know myself, Okay, what I can do, what is my passion?

Bachera Aktar:

Because it's kind of investment.

Bachera Aktar:

Yeah.

Bachera Aktar:

So if I'm not very clear about that, what I want to do with my PhD, it's very

Bachera Aktar:

difficult to actually continue the PhD.

Bachera Aktar:

So this is very important to, at the beginning, even also before the beginning,

Bachera Aktar:

to know that what I really want.

Kim Ozano:

Well, wonderful pieces advice there and, uh, it's great that

Kim Ozano:

you're here in Liverpool for these few weeks where you do have some company

Kim Ozano:

so I hope that goes really well.

Kim Ozano:

Thank you for joining the Connecting Citizens to Science podcast.

Kim Ozano:

It's been wonderful to have our first recording live in a studio.

Kim Ozano:

So thank you once again and good luck moving forward.

Kim Ozano:

We will look out for your publications and your change that you're clearly

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