Refugee Youth
Volunteering Uganda


Refugee Youth Volunteering Uganda (RYVU) is an international research project focused on:

● exploring the kinds of voluntary labour practiced by young refugees in Uganda

● investigating how these impact on their skills, employability and the inequalities they experience

RYVU aims to:

● develop new understandings of volunteering that reflect the experiences of refugees in Uganda

● build knowledge of the relationships between volunteering and the livelihoods of displaced young people

● develop ideas, resources and activities for organisations working with young refugees as well as wider volunteer engaging organisations


Forced displacement has become one of the most intractable challenges of the 21st century, with 70.8 million people currently displaced worldwide – a number which is predicted to rise.

1.2 million of these refugees are currently seeking refuge in Uganda, fleeing from conflicts in the Central African countries of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Somalia. The majority of these refugees are children. Building the skills and employability of the many young people caught up in this crisis is critical not only to their own future prospects, but to the long-term stability of their host country and region.

This research will develop a new conceptual framework and produce a body of data and evidence for analysing whether volunteering by displaced youths in Uganda helps their skills acquisition and employability and reduces the inequalities they experience.


RYVU uses a mixed method approach, combining quantitative survey work with participatory mapping, participatory photography, life history and qualitative interviews. The research is supported by a global advisory board, as well as citizen advisory boards comprising young refugees in each of the areas that RYVU will be working.

Work will take place through three main phases:

Phase 1: field visits, stakeholder engagements and key informant interviews will establish an initial typology of forms and understandings of volunteering to inform the development of the quantitative survey and establish an initial typology of forms and understanding of volunteering in Uganda.

Phase 2: design, develop, pilot and launch a large quantitative survey of young refugees involved in volunteering. Preliminary analysis of the data arising from this survey will provide a meta picture of the scale of volunteering that is taking place across Uganda.

Phase 3: participatory mapping, participatory photography, one to one semi-structured interviews, life history interviews, and stakeholder interviews exploring where and how young refugees volunteer, why, and how it impacts on their skills acquisition and employability. These will generate detailed micro level data on the spatialities and social relations of volunteering, data on volunteering’s impacts on employability over time and enable deeper analysis of how individual experiences of volunteering vary between contexts (settlement and urban).



Prof. Matt Baillie Smith, Northumbria University
Principal Investigator
Prof. Peter Kanyandago, Uganda Martyrs University
Website pic - Edited
Dr. Aisling O’ Loghlen, Northumbria University
Dr. Frank Ahimbisibwe, Mbarara University of Science and Technology
Dr. Cuthbert Tukundane, Uganda Martyrs University
Sarah Mills
Dr. Sarah Mills, Loughborough University
Bianca Fadel
Bianca Fadel, Northumbria University
Dr. Moses Okech, Uganda Martyrs University
Post-Doctoral Researcher
Screenshot 2019-08-19 at 14.08.55
Dr. Robert Turyamureeba
Post-Doctoral Researcher
owen boyle photo
Dr. Owen Boyle, Northumbria University
Project Manager


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