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Principal Investigators: Dr Gloria Seruwagi, PI (Makerere University) and Prof. Stephen Lawoko, Co-PI (Gulu University)


The extent to which refugee communities are aware of COVID-19 and comply with related measures and guidelines remains largely unknown. This research seeks to give visibility and voice to refugees through their lived experiences, while also analysing the processes and outcomes of COVID-19 policy and guidelines in Uganda. The study will focus on critical issues, actions, intentions and experiences at different levels – individual, community and national.

The study will assess awareness, document lived experiences and assess behavioural shifts in Uganda’s diverse refugee settings, with more than five different nationalities participating. The study will establish whether contextual specificities of urban and rural-based refugees have a bearing on awareness, feasibility, enforcement and compliance to policy and guidelines from Uganda’s national response to COVID-19. Embedded in this research is a policy analysis strand – assessing policy formulation, feasibility, implementation and outcome. The study hopes to generate evidence useful for improving humanitarian and development outcomes.

Dr Gloria Seruwagi, Principal Investigator

Makerere University

A plethora of etic perspectives on the refugee experience largely drives programming, policy and research. A glaring gap is the insider (emic) perspective. This research positions refugees at the centre, highlighting issues most meaningful and positively transformative for them. We need to listen, learn and then act - acknowledging their agency and “nothing about us without us” message.

Expected Outcomes

A deeper understanding of epidemic [pandemic] socio-behavioural aspects in refugee settings. In particular:

  • The effect and/or impact of Uganda’s COVID-19 response on social behaviour. This can be used to improve planning and effective management and/or support for desired behavioural change. Specifically, it is anticipated that study findings will inform optimal implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures.
  • Actionable recommendations for the infodemic challenge – using study knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) data. This will enable appreciation of key gaps, risky behaviour and high-leverage intervention points for knowledge, attitude and behavioural shifts.
  • Local innovations and improvisations in complying with prevention measures amid difficulty offer a more “strength-oriented” perspective and potential learning for adaptation. It will also result in better understanding of negative coping strategies and means of addressing them.
  • Identifying existing, evolving or newly-formed community resources, networks and their effectiveness; and development of robust evidence-based models and frameworks; contributing to related minority literature.

The team has created a series of resources to share their experience, including blogs that reflect on the perspectives of all the partners in the study; policy briefs, such as guidance on how communities can be empowered to steer sustained COVID-19 compliance measures; and community engagement activities. Visit the REFLECT web page here.

Related Resources

Article, Peer Reviewed COVID-19

Healthworker preparedness for COVID‑19 management and implementation experiences

Briefing Note COVID-19

The A – Z of COVID-19 in Uganda

Policy Brief COVID-19

Compliance to COVID-19 Guidelines in Uganda: Insights from a Multi-site Study in 13 Refugee Settlements

Latest Updates

Website Live

Feb 2021

The team created a website to share the work of the REFLECT project. Here you can find blogs from the field, lessons learned, policy briefs and all the other resources developed as a result of the project to understand COVID-19 in Uganda's refugee camps.


Is Uganda’s CES the new face of resilient health systems in COVID?

Jan 2021

Gloria Seruwagi, co-principal investigator for the REFLECT study, shares her thoughts on the resilience of Uganda's health system amid COVID-19.


A policy-makers pespective on the REFLECT study

Dec 2020

An interview with Brian Luswata from the Ugandan Ministry of Health on his experience working with the REFLECT study.

REFLECT Research Assistants preparing to embark on data collection in Kyaka II refugee settlement.
Hand washing with soap demonstration. Photo credit: ACORD.
Refugee settlement in Adjumani. Photo credit: LWF.
Handwashing in settlements during COVID-19. Photo credit: ACORD.
One of the boreholes in Adjumani refugee settlement. Photo credit: LWF.
A young refugee mother helping her child to wash hands. Photo credit: ACORD.
South Sudanese children at a refugee settlement in Adjumani. Photo credit: LWF.
A home visit by ACORD staff in Kyaaka II Refugee Settlement. Photo credit: ACORD
Anne and LWF staff preparing for a distribution. Photo credit: LWF.
Sensitising Congolese refugees on aspects of COVID-19 transmission and how to prevent it
Refugees struggle to fetch water, one of the most essential commodity needed to fight COVID-19
Loading handwashing facilities destined for Kyaka and Kyangwali refugee settlements
Dr. Gloria training REFLECT Research Assistants in Kyaka Refugee settlement
Dr. Eric Lugada training Research Assistants in Kyaka II refugee settlement
Distributing bar soap, liquid soap and masks to Congolese refugees to enable them practice effective hand washing thereby fighting COVID-19
A Congolese refugee practicing hand washing to prevent COVID-19
Community Rides to sensitise Congolese refugees in Kyaka settlement on COVID-19
ACORD Community facilitator sensitising Congolese refugees on COVID-19 during one of the home to home outreaches
A Congolese refugee with a disability demonstrating hand washing after receiving training soap and a hand washing facility from ACORD to fight COVID-19

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