In our discussions about community health we rarely capture and explore the experiences and concerns of young people. But if we are serious about ‘people centred health systems’ their views and engagement are crucial.

To overcome this knowledge gap we have been working with youth in an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Korogocho is the fourth largest informal settlement in Nairobi, with an estimated population of 100,000 to 120,000 people living within 1.5 square kilometres of land owned by the government.

Our project used PhotoVoice - a participatory photography research method which seeks to bring about positive social change in communities by providing photographic training through which project participants can advocate and improve the quality of their lives.

Nine young people, aged 16 – 18 years who had dropped out of school (5 girls and 4 boys) were selected and trained on how to use digital cameras and getting people’s consent, before capturing aspects of life and health in their community.  Regular meetings were held where they discussed their photos and identified potential solutions with the rest of the research team.

Negative issues that were highlighted by the PhotoVoice team include unsafe communal toilets where young people feared sexual assault, rubbish sites where children without parents would scavenge for food, unclean water, long waiting times and disrespectful staff at the local government health centre, lack of medicines at the health centre which meant that people went to pharmacies instead, and unsafe electricity supplies. But they also highlighted how vegetable sellers make a livelihood but also provide nutritious food to the community, how the private health centre provided services without long queues, and the way that community health workers empower pregnant women to attend medical services and support community health.

The film was screened as part of a photo exhibition held with community leaders and influential stakeholders in order to generate discussion and identify community led actions to address issues identified.  We will continue to raise the concerns of the young people of Korogocho at national and international levels.

To find out more about the project and how you can support the young people of Korogocho by disseminating their book or showing their film contact Rosalind McCollum (

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