Leann Andrews


Nominated From: University of Washington

Research Site: Peru

Research Area: Environmental Health

Primary Mentor: Ken Yocom

Research Project

Impact of Garden Technologies on Human and Environmental Health in Floating Slum Communities in the Amazon Rainforest

Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest and the fifth largest city in Peru, with over a half million documented residents.1 Recently, Iquitos has experienced rapid urban migration and expansion of its informal urban ‘slum’ settlements, with over 56% of the population living in impoverished conditions (in comparison Peru is 34.8%).2 Most often individuals are migrating from the surrounding jungle seeking job, education, health or other opportunities. Displaced from highly lush and intact ecosystems of their ‘home’ landscapes, migrants are forced to create a new home in the dense city, often building out on the water in asentamientos humano flotantes, or floating slum communities. Impoverished circumstances and poor environmental conditions in these neglected communities often results in highly prevalent chronic conditions (i.e. 49.5% of kids 6-59 months suffer from anemia),3 vector borne diseases (i.e. 2,134 cases of dengue/100,000 residents)4, diarrheal disease (37% of children under 5 have acute diarrhea)4, and poor mental health and wellbeing due to the lack of safe water (for 48% of population)5, inadequate sanitation (for 57% of population)5, poor access to nutritious food (i.e. 32% of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition)3 and public greenspaces, disrupted social and ecological systems, precarious structures and exposure to severe storms and flooding.
Because built environment conditions are a determinant of health,6 landscape interventions in these neglected communities have the potential to address many of these issues simultaneously. In particular, gardens have been studied for their positive impacts on impoverished urban households. Strategically designed terrestrial and/or floating garden technologies have the potential to provide and/or support:

PRODUCTS (food, medicine, habitat),
SERVICES (water cleansing7, mosquito predators8, mental restoration and stress reduction9, food security10, beautification, and even electricity production11), and
SYSTEMS (physical system of community green spaces and shaping of neighborhood identity, social system facilitating social interactions, economic system with selling and trading of goods9)

This proposal is for the design, implementation and research of garden technologies in Claverito, a floating slum community in Iquitos (about 50 houses, 250 people), and the critical investigation of their capacity to provide human and environmental health benefits. Located on the riverbank in the heart of downtown Iquitos, Claverito has about 50 houses and 250 residents who have resided in the community ranging from 1-30 years. See Appendix B for images of Claverito.

Specific Aims:
The overarching goal of the project is to understand how one type of landscape intervention, gardens, can address human and environmental health conditions in floating slum communities. This project will add to the small but growing body of research on built environment interventions in developing countries, and has the potential to act as a model for future development in Iquitos, other rainforest cities, and slum settlements worldwide.

Below are outlined specific project aims and strategies for meeting these aims. It is my intention to work with an interdisciplinary team, (some team members already identified), so several tasks will be done with others who have greater disciplinary expertise.

AIM #1: Develop methods and processes for measuring the impact a landscape architecture intervention can have on human health
Strategy: The community determines project success measures by:

  • Using the Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) process in a workshop where the community outlines their main issues, and the team identifies relevant targets and indicators in response (to be measured before and after intervention for comparison)
  • Establish methods for documenting targets and indicators; develop research protocol Timeline: July-August 2016

AIM #2: Understand the existing environmental conditions in a floating slum community Strategy: Establish a baseline of environmental conditions potentially including*:

  • Documenting and mapping the existing architectural (i.e. housing), infrastructural (i.e. water, sewer, circulation, solid waste systems), and landscape architectural (i.e. greenery) conditions and materials
  • Documenting access to services (i.e. electricity, internet, communications, community social infrastructure)
  • Documenting social patterns such as habits of interactions with the environment (i.e. swimming/laundering in river, playing in mud etc.) and living conditions (i.e. population in home, solid waste/pollution mapping)
  • Obtaining weather and climate (i.e. rainfall, flood patterns) reports; measuring temperature and humidity indoors and outdoors
  • Conduct biological and chemical analysis of soil and water in environment
  • In-field species counts (i.e. flora, fauna, mosquito larvae)

*exact baseline elements determined from PIA process in AIM #1 Timeline: August-September 2016

AIM #3: Understand the existing human health conditions in a floating slum community
Strategy: Establish a baseline of human health conditions including*:

  • Self reported access to basic needs (i.e. food, healthcare services, public spaces
  • Self reported illnesses and injuries
  • Conduct biological and chemical analysis of drinking water sources, storage containers, and vessels
  • Obtain existing health reports and statistics (i.e. illnesses, income, employment)
  • Non invasive general health screening (i.e. health, weight, blood pressure etc.)
  • Self reported indicators/determinants (income, job, marital, education status, socio-political conditions, mental health survey)

Timeline: August-September 2016

AIM #4: Implement a demonstration project
Strategy: Participatory design and implementation techniques:

  • Kickoff meeting introducing team and identifying needs, priorities and desires, community visioning (drawings and questions)
  • Participatory design and construction workshops (2-4)
  • Community constructs demonstration project with Team providing expertise and guidance
  • Maintenance and stewardship workshop Timeline: October 2016

AIM #5: Measured impact on environmental conditions
Strategy: Measure impact based on outcomes from PIA workshop Timeline: November 2016 – April 2017

AIM #6: Measured impact on human health conditions
Strategy: Measure impact based on outcomes from PIA workshop Timeline: November 2016 – April 2017

AIM #7: Add to a growing body of knowledge Strategy: Determine appropriate dissemination plans

  • Document the process for others to understand how to conduct work on the built environment in an interdisciplinary way
  • Disseminate results to the community, professional and academic audiences Timeline: April – June 2017

AIM #8: Empower communities
Strategy: The participatory design and implementation process

  • Listening and responding through community feedback workshops
  • Envisioning in design workshops
  • Education in construction and maintenance workshops, sharing results
  • Embracing native cultures, aesthetics and identity (The Department of Loreto has the largest native community in Peru, including natives in the city of Iquitos).





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