In January 2020 began our fieldwork in Kitengela, a peri urban town in Kenya . I have the absolute privilege to work with a team of 2 locally recruited citizen scientists to complete the data collection of the initial discovery stage of my rather ambitious and participatory PHD research project. The PHD research focuses on integrating outdoor play in host communities through the process of co-design. Kitengela is a rapidly evolving host community where a significant proportion of urban displaced Congolese refugees reside for protracted periods.
I hope that the PHD will provide a unique opportunity to determine how co-design can respond to children’s needs to play outdoors in a context where there has been limited urban planning and advocacy for children’s rights in the public realm. The research also seeks evaluate the role of play in developing children and social interactions, both of which are imperative to developing healthy host communities.
The team have started recruiting key stakeholders such as the locally appointed government head of planning, mapping areas where children play on unmapped streets and collaboratively creating a contextual observational tool. There is much more to do, recruitment challenges to address and many long, hot days ahead, but as a team, we are enthused, determined and progressing well.