Differences in the Formation and Development of Informal Settlements and Their Effects on Residents’ Health and Safety

Mutsa Chiromo, Medical College Wisconsin – 1st year medical student

I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in the Informal Settlement Research Project with CDP. Dr. Edward Kadozi was an exceptional mentor, creating a supportive environment where we could freely express our opinions while providing guidance. Collaborating with Christine and Bertrand was also a pleasure. They consistently offered their assistance in translation and helped us grasp the intricacies of the local culture. Thanks to their invaluable support, I gained a profound comprehension of Rwandan culture and acquired knowledge about the history of Kigali. 

Additionally, by engaging in discussions with individuals residing in informal settlements, I was able to better understand the profound impact that systemic policy changes can have on the well-being of individual people. While the transformation of informal settlement residences into formal housing has generally been welcomed, engaging with relocated residents unveiled certain unanticipated issues that could only have been identified through their inclusion in the policymaking process. This experience heightened my awareness of the criticality of incorporating the perspectives of those most affected by policy alterations. From a public health standpoint, I also developed a deeper understanding of the pivotal role that housing plays in determining an individual’s overall health and well-being. We encountered and learned about numerous challenges, such as inadequate waste disposal, absence of running water, poor ventilation, and the use of charcoal stoves inside homes. If left unresolved, these issues have the potential to inflict significant harm. 

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