Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
Our purpose is clear: we work in partnership with a global community of humanitarian actors, researchers and innovators to improve the quality of humanitarian action and deliver better outcomes for people affected by crises.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...

What humanitarian need is being addressed?

Incontinence is often considered a condition related to age or disability, yet best estimates indicate that almost 1 in 10 children aged seven will leak urine during the day; and up to 1 in 5 children aged five will wet the bed. Prevalence rates may be higher in emergency contexts as exposure to stress can contribute to bed-wetting in children.

If children with incontinence face barriers to accessing facilities and services to manage the condition, their physical health can suffer (rashes, infections, pressure sores, dehydration). They can also miss out on educational opportunities, and have increased protection risks due to stigma.

What was the innovative solution and how it improved the existing humanitarian practice?

There is little guidance specifically applicable to children participating in research and programming in emergency contexts. Researchers can therefore feel overwhelmed by the decisions that need to be made to determine whether and how children participate in research being conducted in such complex settings. But very little is known about how displaced children understand and experience health, and particularly sensitive conditions such as incontinence.

In response to this gap, the Leeds-led partnership successfully co-created qualitative participatory data collection tools to gain deeper insights into the toileting behaviors of children aged five to 11. The project also aimed to explore the awareness, understanding, and attitudes of both children and caregivers towards incontinence.

What were the expected outcomes?

  • To understand better the scope and scale of children living with incontinence in humanitarian contexts and how it affects those children living with it and their caregivers.
  • To make recommendations for next steps including how to support such children and their caregivers.
  • To develop a methodology that can be used in humanitarian context to discuss sensitive issues with children to improve programming across multiple sectors.

Latest Updates

Experiences of children’s self-wetting (including urinary incontinence) in Cox’s Bazar’s Rohingya refugee camps, Bangladesh

7 Mar 2024

In Cox’s Bazar’s, children aged five to 11 struggle with self-wetting, causing embarrassment, discomfort, and fear. Through interviews and surveys, this study explores and uncovers the experiences and attitudes towards urinary incontinence (UI) and inadequate sanitation of children, their caregivers, community leaders and humanitarian practitioners.


Conducting research with children part 1: honouring a child’s right to be heard

19 Apr 2022

Read the first part of Leeds exploration of ethically conducting research with children


Conducting Research with Children part 2: Developing the Story Book Methodology

Apr 2022

Read the second part of Leeds series, and learn how they developed their storybook methodology


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