Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs and Risks of Very Young Adolescent (VYA) Somali Refugees in Kobe Refugee Camp, Ethiopia

In 2013, International Medical Corps, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and Johns Hopkins University conducted a mixed methods study to explore the unique experiences, perspectives and needs of very young adolescents (VYA) in the Kobe refugee camp in Ethiopia. International Medical Corps conducted a cross-sectional survey about SRH risk and needs among 406 Somali VYA in the Kobe refugee camp. Additionally, focus group discussions incorporating community mapping and photo elicitation activities were conducted with 10-to-12- and 13-to-14-year-olds, as well as with 15-to-16-year-olds and adults, to consider their perspectives on the SRH needs and risks of VYA. Most VYA reported living with both parents, and a high proportion were currently enrolled in school. They were primarily recent refugees living in the densely populated camp for less than five years. They appeared to have relatively high routine exposure to SRH health information, as well as positive reactions to pubertal changes and the transition to adulthood. Parents appeared to be a key information source for learning about puberty. The study also identified several factors that were found to influence the health and well-being of VYA, including newfound access to education and security, combined with gender divisions and parental communication around early SRH and puberty that remained intact from traditional Somali culture. Girls were found to face an additional risk of child marriage and early pregnancy, exacerbated since displacement, which significantly limited their ability to access education and achieve future aspirations. This research highlighted the importance of introducing early SRH interventions to reinforce positive behaviors to achieve long-term SRH impacts.

Start Date:2013

End Date:2016

Partners: Women’s Refugee Commission
Johns Hopkins University

Donors: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Publications: Conflict and Health
Conflict and Health