Research project

Growing up in Protracted Crises

Refugee Youth Experiences of Transitions to Adulthood in Uganda & Jordan.

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Start date

February 2017

Completion date

February 2017



Department for International Development, UK

Some 600 million young people live in fragile or conflict affected areas across the globe (UNDP, 2016) and over half of refugee populations are under the age of 18 (UNHCR, 2016). As situations of crises become protracted, millions of children are growing up in contexts of civil war, political tensions, and environmental crises exacerbated by poverty.

With a paucity of existing detailed information on the experiences of children and youth affected by protracted crises, this research has been structured to gather primary data directly from young people in order to explore how dimensions such as age, gender, culture, nationality, and location affect transitions.

Taking place in urban and camp settings in the contrasting contexts of Jordan and Uganda, the research employs an innovative youth-led qualitative approach designed to maximise the input of children and youth as both investigators and participants in the research. Managed and led by the University of Dundee, the project is a collaboration with leading practitioner organisations and academics working in the two countries.

Sixteen young refugees are engaged in ethnographic research involving over 500 refugees (aged between 10 and 24) who have been displaced from their home country for three years or more. Having received training in ethnographic techniques, these young researchers began by delivering a baseline survey (via tablets using Survey123 for ArcGIS), to be followed by in-depth interviews and focus groups for younger participants. Participants will also be involved in online story mapping – using video, text and photography to map youth journeys as they navigate their experiences of refugee status. 

Following data collection, initial analysis will be completed in the University of Dundee using NVivo and SPSS software. Local workshops will ensure an active feedback and dissemination process will be used to ensure youth, organizations, government, donors and other stakeholders participate in developing the final outcomes.

Recognising and engaging youth as important social actors in addressing their own needs and shaping the future of their communities is vital to contribute to sustainable development outcomes. By ensuring a strong voice from youth at each key stage, this research aims to show how youth experience and navigate pathways to adulthood when growing up in situations of protracted crises, in order to inform policy and development programming.


External team members

Professor Lorraine van Blerk

Dr Wayne Shand, Senior Research Consultant

Dr Laura Prazeres, Post-Doctoral Research Consultant

Janine Hunter, Data/KE Manager

Jordan partners: Information and Research Center King Hussein Foundation (IRCKHF), Amman; German Jordanian University, Al Mushaqqar

Uganda partners: Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL), Kampala; Makerere University, Kampala