On 13 December 2021, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) High Level Officials Meeting (HLOM) hosted a side event titled Meaningful Refugee Participation that aimed to take stock of the implementation of pledges made in 2019 and to share good practices that enhance the effectiveness of refugee responses through meaningful refugee participation.

During the event, Andhira Yousif Kara spoke about the research her team is doing, a Study on Refugee-Led Organizations in East Africa, specifically in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Andhira is from South Sudan, but lives in Kenya as a refugee. She spoke about the different outcomes from refugee participation in research, as refugees bring different understanding of the context of the research. As the lead researcher in Kenya, Andhira said is it important that refugees are leading the research that goes on to inform policy and practices: “It is not outsiders coming to do the research, […] it is done by individuals with lived experience of forced displacement.”

Andhira and her teams research looks to map RLOs in East Africa. They aim to gain an understanding of how RLOs impact the refugee communities they serve. Just three months into the research, Andhira and the other researchers have found RLOs vary widely in how they operate. Some are focusing their efforts extensively on humanitarian issues, while others are more issue-focused, i.e. women-focused projects. Some organizations are active in a global context, while others only exist within their communities.

Currently, Andhira is working on mapping the RLOs in Kenya, the field work will provide further understanding of the different impacts RLOs have had on refugees and forcibly displaced people in East Africa.

It is vital that policy and practice for RLOs are evidence-based. The current study follows methodology used by other studies on RLOs. Andhira hopes that this research can foster the development and implementation of effective policy and practice for RLOs in East Africa and beyond.

For more info on the Evaluation of Refugee-Led Organisations from LERRN, RSC and CLS, Click Here.

This report was prepared by Kail Schlachter, LERRN Project Writer.