This is an empirical research project that examines in what ways access and use of digital platforms varies between and within households in a large informal settlement in Nairobi, and how this may influence the capacity of households to cope with shocks and disturbances.
Objectives of the study
This research connects two contemporary trends; digital platforms and resilience. It explores in what ways the access and use of digital platforms may lead to differences in resilience between and within households in informal settlements. The principal inquiry grounding the research is stipulated as follows:
How do platforms instigate differences in resilience among and within households in the informal settlement of Mathare?
Contemporary trends show that on one hand, informal settlers are vulnerable to an increasing number and intensity of shocks. Yet, on the other hand their access to and use of digital platforms has increased considerably, albeit unequally distributed between and within households. Digital platforms may enable informal settlers to become more resilient, but the variances in the access and use across households may mediate the level of resilience during crises. Such variances in informal settlements are so far unstudied.
This research hereby explores the differences in access to and use of platforms in one large informal settlement in Nairobi and assesses how such differences associate with differences in the level of resilience between and within households.
This project adopts a case study approach, selecting Mathare slums as the study area. Mathare is one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, whose informality, vitality and resilience pathways have been studied by the project partners in past years. The research seeks qualitative evidence based on a blend of desktop research, in-depth interviews among households and focus groups discussions among residents, community leaders and children. The study will be conducted in collaboration with community researchers.
Multiple benefits for resilience
For households, the research provides practical insights on how digital platforms can be used as a tool to boost their resilience during crises. For local leaders and policy makers, the study provides guidance on how they can reduce differences in household resilience caused by platforms. Additionally, since the project is undertaken in a settlement where upgrading is underway, the work offers better embedding of digitalization into slum upgrading initiatives.
Cooperation and Local capacities
Working with community researchers as partners in the project will not only build on the knowledge and skills of local residents to act in their community as agents for change but will also foster cooperation between researchers and local stakeholders.
By bringing together the concepts of urban resilience and digital technologies in the context of social justice, equality and global development, the research makes significant contribution to the existing literature on digital platforms and household resilience.