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Adolescent girls’ and boys’ refugee experiences in Rwanda

Marie Francoise Umutoni, from FATE Consulting Rwanda, has been awarded GAGE funding to conduct research with adolescents in refugee camps. In this interview, she tells us about the planned research.

Q: Tell us why you wanted to research this topic. 

A: Our research topic is “Understanding adolescent girls’ and boys’ experiences in refugee camps in Rwanda using a capability lens”. We chose this topic because refugee adolescents are a vulnerable group and there is not a lot of qualitative information available focused on their experience. In addition, the GAGE programme of research looks at adolescent refugees through its participatory research arm. The main research taking place in Rwanda is not looking at adolescent refugees, so this piece would complement the overall findings on Rwanda. 

Q: Why is it important that policy makers/programme designers know about this issue?

A: Programme designers and policy makers need to make decisions based on evidence. Programmes need to be designed so that they meet the experiences and needs of both boy and girl refugees. In addition, adolescence is an age group that is often overlooked as they are regarded as neither children or youth. We need to pay special attention to especially vulnerable groups, such as adolescent refugees in order to have better policies and programmes.

Q: What do you think will be most challenging about this research? 

A: The most challenging part of this research is maintaining the confidentiality of the targeted participants as well as finding safe spaces to hold discussions. Households in refugee camps are close together, and speaking with one individual might expose him or her to their neighbours, raising confidentiality issues. This could possibly be solved by holding interviews in secure places, such as schools.

Q: What do you think will be most professionally rewarding about conducting this research? 

A: We will gain insights and improve our ethical research techniques which are particularly important when interviewing vulnerable groups such as adolescent refugees. We will use the approach used previously for the GAGE formative work, allowing us to put this knowledge into practice, and explore new ways to improve our responses to challenges and handle sensitive issues. Working with adolescent refugees is new for us, and using the capability lens to explore their experiences will provide new insights which are important for future research on priority areas. 

Read the announcement: GAGE funds world-class research on reaching and supporting the most vulnerable and marginalised adolescentsRwanda map 2.jpgRefugee camps in Rwanda. Map credit: www.unhcr.org/rw/66-overview-2.html