What I am actually doing in Kenya?

I am sure lots of you have thought, think or are thinking that I am in Kenya just for fun ;-) you cheeky people!
But I have shared so beautiful sceneries and lots of great moments of normality - while half Europe is still lockdown :-( - that how could I blame you?
The point is that, unbelievably, I am actually here for work - or for study purposes, depends how do you interpret the life of a PhD student ;-)

I will be in Kenya for 6 months, to conduct an ethnographic research about energy practices among local communities. 

What does this exactly means? Well, with the University of Liverpool and my Research group, named Clean-Air(Africa), we are trying to understand how to address the issue of Household Air Pollution - meaning the pollution that is created inside the houses as a consequence of cooking, lighting, or heating practices: basically, by burning fuels in rudimentary ways which release lots of smoke. This pollution, mainly caused by burning firewood, charcoal, kerosene, sawdust in open fires or very basic stoves, is the second health risk factor in the world! Did you know it? Just after poor water and sanitation. 

People in developing countries do not have the facilities or the infrastructure to cook with electricity or other forms of clean energy. Even, they are not used to opening windows to facilitate ventilation or to build a chimney. Fuels are just burned open air, or often in very tiny smoky kitchens. This is exposing people, and especially women and their kids, who are traditionally assigned to these domestic tasks, to lots of dangerous substances for EVERY DAY of their life - unless they switch to clean energy: LPG gas, for example, meaning the gas bottles. Many factors are hindering the transitions to clean energy in developing countries - surely economic reasons, but also social and cultural ones. As so, people develop pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, obstructive lungs disease, cancer. 
A huge problem - that I am here trying to make short!

I am conducting my research in Langas, a slum area at the outskirts of Eldoret. I have described Langas here after my visit in Kenya in 2020.

"Ethnographic research" may sounds obscure to lots of you. Basically, anthropologists like me go to the field of research, try to immerse in the local context, to experience the place, to observe daily tasks, to participate with local people in their activities. We do interviews, and focus groups, all of that group of activities that fell under the name of "qualitative analysis". But also, and especially, we are in the context for a long time to deeply understand the culture, the social arrangements, and why people live in certain ways: trying to live like them and to produce "thick descriptions" of a reality experienced from the inside.

This is why, for my findings, you will need to wait a bit ;-) to be patient until I immerse and re-emerge from the field.
But I am going to tell you more, and little by little, about what I discover about how people cook, heat, and provide energy for their homes!

Stay tuned!


  1. Molto interessante il tuo blog,Serena,continua con il tuo lavoro molto appassionante!


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