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Resilience and social cohesion through the lens of residents in a Kenyan informal settlement.

Vertigans, Stephen; Gibson, Neil



Over recent years, resilient attitudes and behaviour are widely seen within the Global North to be potential solutions to community developmental challenges. Although greater international emphasis is being placed on ‘bottom up’ approaches, learning from existing levels of resilience among communities such as residents in informal settlements has aroused limited attention. Instead analysis of informal settlements tends to concentrate on the multitude of environmental, economic and social problems that many communities share and internationally derived normative solutions. To help address this relative neglect, research was designed that sought more information about local experiences, people and processes that have been instrumental in building levels of resilience that help overcome challenges and improve well-being. Using the photovoice methodological technique, a project was developed to capture experiences of participants in Kibera, Nairobi. Participants were young people and either role models or had the potential to be. In so doing the project was participant driven, learning from residents about who and what have been influential in the development and maintenance of resilience. The results highlighted the particular significance of social cohesion and, in particular, relationships and attachment to place.


VERTIGANS, S. and GIBSON, N. 2020. Resilience and social cohesion through the lens of residents in a Kenyan informal settlement. Community development journal [online], 55(4), pages 624-644. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 1, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2019
Publication Date Oct 31, 2020
Deposit Date Aug 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2021
Journal Community Development Journal
Print ISSN 0010-3802
Electronic ISSN 1468-2656
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 4
Pages 624-644
Keywords Informal settlement; Kenya; Kibera; Photovoice; Resilience; Social cohesion
Public URL


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