Innovation through refugee children’s participation

Organisation: Centre for Migration Policy Research, Swansea University

Partners: UNHCR, Save the Children, GIZ

Location: Uganda

Type of grant: Core – invention

Status: Completed

  • Warm up Games in Kaborogota zone

  • Warm up Games at Reception Centre 2

  • Feedback Poster for Children

  • Mapping refugee proteciton process 4

  • Mapping the refugee proteciton process 2

  • Mapping children's workshops

  • Making Puppets to Talk about Protection

  • Drawing, and talking about children in Kyaka II, Swansea University

  • Child Friendly REC interview 2



Thinking creatively about child protection in a protracted refugee camp context

This project aims to work with refugee children as innovators in a protracted refugee settlement in Uganda (Kyaka II) to explore what might constitute a more child-friendly, child specific and participatory refugee protection process for children.  This will be done through participatory workshops with groups of refugee children (aged 6-10 and 11-16) to map out their broad perspectives, as well as focus in on specific points (arrival, registration, best interest determination) and aspects (environment, child/adult interaction, information) of the refugee protection process.  Observation of protection interviews with refugee children and interviews with humanitarian practitioners will feed into the innovation process.

Challenge(s) addressed:

  • Children (0-18 years) are a significant part of the refugee population world-wide. Almost 50% of UNHCR’s global caseload is children and children represent the majority of many refugee camp populations.  UNHCR has a mandate for the protection of refugees and collaborates with organisations such as GIZ and Save the Children to achieve this.  However, evaluations and indicators show that, operationally, the mainstream refugee protection process inadequately engages refugee children or addresses their specific protection concerns.
  • Children face different protection risks, have different protection needs and communicate differently about their protection concerns to adults.  Whilst ‘child friendly spaces’ and complaints reporting mechanisms (CRM) for children exist in some refugee camps, the refugee protection process itself is not necessarily participatory or child friendly in practice.  The danger is that child participation takes place ‘in a box’ and refugee children do not feel able to participate or voice their concerns throughout the protection process.

Innovation Factor: 

An alternative ‘take’ on the refugee protection process from the perspective of children of different ages who have experienced it and suggestions as to how it might work more effectively for refugee children as a whole.

Added Value:

  • Innovation is not just viewed as adults’ work.  Solutions can come from the creative generation of ideas by refugee children themselves.  There is added value in children’s perspectives on, experiences of and contributions to the innovation process itself, irrespective of the project focus.
  • Whilst Kyaka II is a relatively small refugee settlement, the refugee protection process is broadly common to all refugee camps and camp-like settlements and therefore the learning from the project has much wider application.

Innovation Phases Description:

  • Invention – creatively mapping out an alternative and more child friendly experience of the refugee protection process, informed by innovative ideas from refugee children.
  • Drawing on ideas from humanitarian practitioners and agencies and other relevant developments in the field to create the most effective innovation.

Key Deliverables / Impact:

  • Collated audio and visual data on refugee children’s perspectives on the refugee protection process to communicate to field office in Uganda, project partners, HIF and broader humanitarian community.
  • Alternative and age appropriate child-friendly protection process(es) to further develop and explore with refugee children and humanitarian practitioners in alternative settings.
  • A tested and reviewed methodology for children’s participation in the innovation process.

Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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