Supporting youth and community capacity through photovoice: Reflections on participatory research on maternal health in Wakiso district, Uganda
Musoke, D; Ndejjo, R; Ekirapa-Kiracho, E and George, AS (2016) Supporting youth and community capacity through photovoice: Reflections on participatory research on maternal health in Wakiso district, Uganda, Global Public Health, DOI:10.1080/17441692.2016.1168864
This paper reflects on the experiences of using photovoice to examine maternal health in Wakiso district, Uganda. The project involved 10 youth aged 18–29 years old, who were diverse in education, occupation, and marital status and identified by community leaders with researchers. By taking photos and sharing images and experiences in monthly meetings over five months, youth reported becoming more knowledgeable. They realised that they had common experiences but also reflected on and reinterpreted their circumstances. While they acquired self-confidence and enhanced their communication skills, they also initially faced community resistance regarding consent and lack of trust in their motives. Ethical practice in photovoice goes beyond institutional approval and individual consent. It includes extensively discussing the project with community members and building relationships with them. In certain instances, photos needed not to identify community members, or not be taken at all. Through these relationships and with improved capacity, youth engaged in individual instances of health education and advocacy, as well as spurred further local action through community dialogues. Researchers supporting photovoice must be open to learning alongside participants, flexible regarding study focus and processes, sustain interest and manage logistics, all while being reflective about the balance of power in such partnerships.