BLH Update 4: Knowledge Exchange and Co-Learning
Two very important moments in the life of the Bucket Loads of Health project occurred this month. Knowledge exchange workshops brought a team of water microbiologists from Stellenbosch University (SUN) together with residents from Enkanini and Delft. These workshops provided a unique opportunity for researchers and marginalized community members to share diverse perspectives and understanding about the relationship between water and health.
The knowledge exchange workshops were held in Stellenbosch on the 10th and 18th of July. They were attended by eight participants from Enkanini (10th July) and 14 participants from Delft (18th July). Professor Wesaal Khan and 4 members of her research team (post-doctoral fellow Thando Ndlovu and PhD candidates Tanya Clements, Brandon Reyneke, and Monique Waso) took part with great enthusiasm on both days.
The Enkanini and Delft participants presented the collective community maps and individual body maps that they had made during creative workshops in an earlier phase of the project. Through these maps they described the intersectional challenges that water shortage, water restrictions and heavy rainfall bring to their lives. They used their maps as platforms in the knowledge exchange process to depict heart-felt experiences related to these contradictory situations.
Clayton DeLillie, Marilyn Jacobs and Sally February of the Delft Water Clan sharing their community maps during the Delft Knowledge Exchange workshop
Each member of the scientific team had created a personal hand map which they used to describe their journey into water microbiology. Through their hand maps, the researchers acknowledged the people in their lives who had inspired them to become scientists, and talked about other significant influences and experiences that had taken them into their current field of work. They teamed up to give a series of short, down to earth presentations – describing the trajectory of the Western Cape drought and explaining their key research goals and various methodological approaches.
Prof Wesaal Khan and Dr Thando Ndlovu learning about Vuyokazi Joxo’s body map and her story during the Enkanini Knowledge Exchange workshop
The Enkanini participants showed their collectively made film ‘Our Water Challenges‘ for the first time ever on the 10th of July. This film brings attention to the pressing issues of poor sanitation and unhygienic water and food-waste disposal in the informal settlement. It raises the participants concerns about how these situations are seriously affecting the health and wellbeing of community members, especially the children. It was developed for the key purpose of community mobilization and will be shown at a special event in Enkanini in the coming weeks.
The Enkanini group also performed an original drama that conveyed their thoughts on how the scientific team could work more effectively with co-researchers in their community. Their energetic performance raised a healthy debate about possibilities for research to give back to researched communities. Providing those involved as co-researchers with opportunities for further education was included as a priority example.
At both the of the knowledge exchange workshops, Amber Abrams of the Future Water Institute (University of Cape Town) facilitated an interactive session on the topic of grey water and health. This is a particularly relevant health-related theme during the current enforcement of water restrictions in the Western Cape.
A highlight of each of the 2 days was a visit to the SUN microbiology department, which enabled the community participants to see and experience the practical aspects of the scientists work first hand.
Knowledge Exchange activities