Using Photovoice to Build Active Citizenship and Public Accountability on Health in an Informal Settlement in Zimbabwe: The Cassa Banana Experience

Cassa Banana is a marginalised informal urban settlement, with a population of approximately 850 people who live in basic wooden cabins. There are two ablution blocks in the community which hold 48 toilet holes, 4 showers and 5 working taps. During community meetings, residents identified intestinal parasites and diarrhoea as two of their major health problems. The nearest public clinic is 20 kms away.

Between 2014-2016, the Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) in cooperation with the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, used participatory approaches with a Community Health Committee (CHC) to explore and document community health challenges. In 2015 the CHC began a Photovoice programme aimed at mobilising the community and using the images to advocate for wider engagement, support and recognition from the local authorities. A mixed age/gender group of 9 community photographers collected images for the booklet. Cassa Banana remains an underserved community, but a handful of residents have developed a greater sense of self-identity, confidence and awareness, in part because of the Photovoice process. (Supported by TARSC and EQUINET, with funding from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa)

Submitted by:
Barbara Kaim

Child playing in sewage

This photograph was taken in front of the communal ablution block where the sewage tank is often overflowing. The Community Health Committee used this photo in a community meeting to generate discussion on the underlying causes of the problem, its impact on the health of the community, and possible solutions.

Photographer: Leeroy Dhumukwa, community photographer

Dumping ground

This is the last in a series of 9 photos which shows a woman carrying her rubbish through the narrow dirt streets, passing people’s wooden shacks, clothes hanging to dry, a woman having her hair braided, a child taking a bucket bath. She enters an open field where she throws away her waste.

Photographer: Dephine Hondongwa, community photographer

The Ablution Block

This is an uncomfortable photograph. It shows the lack of privacy, no flushing system and broken cisterns. Misheck took this photograph to show the responsible authorities and to get them, at the least, to buy gum books and cleaning materials for the three community volunteers who clean the toilets twice a day

Photographer: Misheck Mharadze, community photographer

Keeping our community clean

The CHC organises regular clean-up campaigns to clean the paths and toilets and burn the rubbish dump. This is one of many activities arising from their action plan to improve the water and sanitation situation in Cassa Banana and to advance the role of local authorities in provision of public health services.

Photographer: Leeroy Dhumukwa, community photographer

At the tuckshop

Memory works at the community tuck shop selling such items as matches, washing soap, dried milk, tea bags and batteries. Others live by selling fish sourced from a nearby lake, providing services such as hairdressing or carpentry, or by finding part-time work in the surrounding farms.

Photographer: Paradzai Dimingo, community photographer