Council researchers and partners are responding to the needs of refugees facing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the East, Horn, and Great Lakes region of Africa.
The global refugee crisis is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century. SGBV exacerbates the already dire situation in refugee settings, and is both a prevalent concern and a complex phenomenon in these contexts. Although SGBV is recognized as a growing problem in emergency settings, and the highest number of forcibly displaced people in recorded history were reported by UNHCR in 2015, evaluations of interventions in these contexts have remained sparse. Given the emergencies that often define refugee settings, an ‘intuition-over-evidence’ approach to selecting SGBV interventions often takes precedence over evidence-based approaches.
The Council-led ‘Africa Regional SGBV Network’—a partnership of regional and national organizations—is working to strengthen country capacity to prevent SGBV, care for SGBV survivors, and share insights across the region to help inform policies and programs. The network, which was created in 2006 has designed, implemented, and evaluated a range of evidence-based responses to SGBV in humanitarian and non-humanitarian settings alike in East and Southern Africa. Its work has bolstered the capacity of the medical, education, and legal/justice sectors in the region to address SGBV against children, women, and men, and to meet the needs of refugee survivors in humanitarian settings . Today, the Network is collaborating with the UNHCR EHAGL Africa Bureau to amplify its evidence-based responses in humanitarian contexts through technical support by Network partners to UNHCR implementing partners in eight countries within the EHAGL region. ‘Voice’ is translated as ‘sauti’ in Kiswahili, and represents the project’s emphasis on amplifying the voices of SGBV survivors and the efforts of those that work with them to broaden the reach of effective SGBV responses across the region.
The introduction of tested SGBV models designed, implemented, and evaluated by the ‘Africa Regional SGBV Network’ is helping to inform and strengthen policies and programmatic approaches for addressing SGBV in humanitarian contexts in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and throughout the region. Through the efforts of the ‘SAUTI’/VOICE project, we anticipate that we can reduce SGBV, and that survivors in these contexts will be reached in timely, innovative, and sensitive ways with the care they require.