Skip navigation

Refugee Youth Volunteering Uganda (RYVU)

"Skills Acquisition and Employability Through Volunteering by Displaced Youth in Uganda"

The Refugee Youth Volunteering Uganda (RYVU) is an international collaborative research project aiming to develop new understandings of volunteering that reflect the experiences of refugees in Uganda; build knowledge on the relationships between volunteering and the livelihoods of displaced young people; and investigate how these impact on their skills, employability and the inequalities they experience. The project is funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council/Global Challenges Research Fund and led by Professor Matt Baillie Smith working with Dr Bianca Fadel at Northumbria University, and a team of academics at Loughborough University (UK), Uganda Martyrs University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda), in collaboration with international and local NGOs and youth refugees themselves.

Uganda is one of the largest hosting countries for populations displaced across borders, home to over 1.5 million refugees, mostly aged under 24 years old. Socioeconomic inequalities often exclude young refugees from formal schooling, opportunities to build their skills and access to sources of secure and reliable income. RYVU research shows high levels of refugee participation in diverse forms of volunteering, a practice increasingly identified with building skills and enhancing employability. However, studies have tended to focus on international volunteers and the ‘gap year’, or volunteering experiences in Europe and North America. Limited research has investigated volunteering by vulnerable groups and individuals, particularly in the global South.

From 2019 to 2022, the RYVU project captured experiences of volunteering in Uganda through a mixedmethod approach, particularly engaging with refugees from the four main nationalities present in the country: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Somalia. This included a large-scale survey and participatory photography (photovoice) with young refugees; an online survey with employers; and interviews and participatory workshops with young and adult refugees, organisations who work with them and government representatives in four sites: Kampala city and the refugee settlements of Bidibidi, Nakivale and Rwamwanja. 

In total, the project involved over 3,800 participants and the team also worked closely with national and international partners, and participants engaged not only in data collection but also in co-analysis during policy-focused workshops. Importantly, the research was supported by local Youth Advisory Boards comprised of young refugees who shared their expertise and provided valuable guidance to the team throughout all project phases.

You can find out more about the research and access publications, a virtual photo-exhibit, policy briefings, interactive downloadable games and more by visiting the project's dedicated project website and Twitter page.


Geography and Environmental Sciences Courses

With a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and distance learning Geography and Environmental Sciences courses, whatever you want to get out of university, let us show you why you want Northumbria University, Newcastle!


Geography and Environmental Sciences Staff

Our Geography and Environmental Sciences students learn from the best – inspirational academic staff with a genuine passion for their subject. Our courses are at the forefront of current knowledge and practice and are shaped by world-leading and internationally excellent research.

a group of people around each other

Undergraduate Open Day Events

Looking to study in with us in September? Our Undergraduate Open Day Events are the perfect opportunity for you to find out as much as you can about our wide range of courses and world-class facilities.

Latest News and Features

IVCO 2024
Seagrass habitats are expanding in some areas, to the surprise of researchers. Matthew Floyd, CC BY-ND
Dr Ana Laura Zavala Guillen
the images show the ICOS Auchencorth Moss station near Edinburgh.
A new toolkit has been developed to support rural communities with the development of renewable energy projects. Photo: Adobe Stock
Northumbria Students were the first to complete a new intensive programme offered by ACCESS: Policy, providing an insight into addressing emerging global challenges through policy making. Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy London
Professor Matt Baillie Smith and Sumana Banerjee with Dr Andrew Fleming
Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
More events

Upcoming events

EcoMat Conference 2024
DynaSun 2024

Back to top