The research will generate new knowledge about youth understandings of uncertainty, violence, poverty and rights. It will provide insights into how to support and sustain pathways out of poverty for street connected and marginalised youth. The research is timely as it will inform the implementation of the UN's sustainable development goals, in which inequality is a key theme.
The overall aim of the research is to generate new knowledge about how marginalised youth perceive, navigate, negotiate and respond to uncertainty and how this may affect their rights and pathways out of poverty in impoverished fragile and conflict affected communities, which may also be prone to natural disasters.
The relationship between poverty and uncertainty will be examined in Ethiopia and Nepal in partnership with CHADET and ActionAid Nepal, organisations that have demonstrated their local expertise in working with the most marginalised children and youth on poverty, rights and participation.
The objectives of the research are informed by Bauman's theories about communities and autonomy that that have not previously been applied to conceptualise how marginalised youth experience uncertainty, poverty and their rights in fragile and conflict affected developing country contexts. The objectives will enable the project to produce new knowledge about the way vulnerable and marginalised street connected youth experience poverty as they grow up, and how this is affected by conflict, violence, instability, peer groups and migration. The new insights will have direct impact on the practices of policy organisations that address poverty through initiatives for youth education and rights.
Detailed research questions explore how vulnerability, agency, and rights affect young people's daily coping strategies, sense of security, belonging and autonomy and how their dreams and identities change as they grow up in settings from busy urban centres to remote rural settings in Nepal and Ethiopia. The project will advance our understandings of why - in times of conflict and in post-conflict and fragile environmental and social settings, youth reject traditional norms, form new social norms and seek support and leadership in alternative groupings and forms of peer support, such as gangs and extremist groups.
Creative innovative methods, such as mapping, rivers of life, photo narrative, network and support diagrams, will help to reveal youth perspectives on the complexities of their lives. Through working with 1,000 youth and 320 adults and 80 key stakeholders, the international research team will analyse how thinking and strategies differ between genders and generations. 250 detailed case studies in each country will be collected to provide stories from young men, women and youth of the third gender, aged 15-24 years, which will also help to understand how marginalised youth experiences of poverty and perceptions of and strategies in the face of uncertainty change depending on intersecting aspects ethnicity, caste, religion, disability, education and socio-economic status.
New evidence about poverty, uncertainty and children's living rights will be presented to policy makers and providers of youth services, including government and non-government representatives, in national reference groups in Nepal and Ethiopia. In the conflict affected locations, detailed evidence on local policies and interventions that support youth to deal with uncertainty will include poverty alleviation, peacebuilding and education. Through dialogue with decision-makers about the complex realities for marginalised and street connected youth and what has made a positive difference to their lives, re-conceptualisation of youth policy and programmes will be encouraged and monitored.
- Re-conceptualisation of youth policy and programmes of intervention in research locations will be encouraged and monitored by partners. In these impoverished and conflict affected areas, detailed evidence on what supports youth to deal with uncertainty will include family support, poverty alleviation and social policy interventions, peacebuilding and formal/ informal education. Through dialogue with youth, adults and decision-makers about the complex lives of marginalised and street connected youth, an assessment will be made of what has made a positive difference to their lives.
- New empirical evidence will be presented to national policy makers with a remit for poverty alleviation and providers of youth services. National Reference Groups will be facilitated in Ethiopia and Nepal by partners to discuss implications of findings and national research uptake, and will consist of government representatives, INGOs, donors and academics.
- Research dissemination and uptake will be the focus of international and national seminars on youth uncertainty in fragile and conflict-affected communities and pathways out of poverty for marginalised and street connected youth.
- Through co-construction of methodology, including team analysis and joint authored research publications, research capacity of academic and national based organisations will be increased.
- Ethical protocols for positive impact across contexts will include locally agreed child protection procedures, and informed consent from youth and guardians. Researchers will engage with the most marginalised youth, treating them with respect as active participants and avoiding risks associated with the research processes by signposting to services and counselling.
- Youth involved in the research will have the opportunity to be involved in ongoing interventions and advocacy through partner initiatives after the period of the research.
- Immediate and ongoing impact: Street connected and marginalised youth in the research will be encouraged to examine what has helped them with uncertainty as part of their involvement in the project and can continue to join advocacy initiatives. Vulnerable participants will be signposted to appropriate services if they are at any risk or if they have identified issues not previously known to partners.
- Medium-term impact: Government departments, non-governmental and community-based organisations that have responsibility for provision of youth rights, including child protection and youth participation. Impact on policy and practice will be achieved through the international and national reports/outputs and dialogue with local stakeholders and national reference groups.
- Long-term impact: National and international inter-sectorial policy makers relevant to youth poverty alleviation, social policy, peacebuilidng and education, and officials responsible for policies for street connected children, reporting to the Commission on the Rights of the Child, and for implementation of SDGs regarding youth and inequalities, INGOs and donors. Research findings will enhance and underpin local, national and international policy initiatives and practice in partners.
- Academic impact: Academic/ practitioner researchers in Ethiopia, Nepal, and the UK team. Research capacity will be developed through co-construction of the methodology, conducting methodology workshops for local postgraduate students and academics, facilitating reference groups and co-authoring findings/research outputs.
Dissemination of research evidence and research uptake internationally will be informed by an advisory group: Prof R Chambers (IDS); Dr G Crivello (Young Lives, Oxford); Prof K Hanson (Geneva); Prof A Robinson-Pant (UEA); Dr S Thomas de Benitez (Consortium for Street Children); Prof F Hardman (York); J Healey (ChildHope UK); D Walker (ODI); Prof M Benedicte-Dembour, Prof A Church, Prof D Stephens (UoB).