People living in poor urban environments are especially likely to be exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution, with nine out of 10 related deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.

Mukuru, an informal settlement, in Nairobi, Kenya, is a community of over 300,000 residents. Cooking and heating are major sources of indoor air pollution due to a lack of access to clean energy, resulting in people burning fuels like coal and kerosene inside their homes. The burning of waste and industrial emissions are responsible for most of the local outdoor air pollution.

Mukuru, an informal settlement in Nairobi. Poor air quality and sanitation are two major health issues affecting the community. Using novel methods of engagement can raise awareness about the measures needed to be implemented. Photo credit: Steve Cinderby / SEI York

The AIR Network (Action for Interdisciplinary Air Pollution Research) is a multidisciplinary partnership of African and European researchers, led by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, together with community members from Mukuru. The network was established to engage with the people of Mukuru, to build relationships and trust, and to explore how best to involve local people in making effective community-driven solutions to the issue of air pollution. This blog describes how the AIR Network project collaborated with musicians, MCs, DJs and filmmakers in Mukuru to compose and record songs and videos to spark interest and debate around the issue of air pollution.

One of the songs written and recorded for the AIR Network is Mazingira (Swahili for the environment) by Mukuru Kings (#Rafatchizi and Evadredi). Mazingira is being played on Citizen Radio and Radio Maisha, two of the biggest radio networks in Kenya, and the Mukuru community radio station Ruben FM.