FY 12: Best Practices for Engaging Community-Based Child Protection Mechanisms in Protracted Refugee Situations (Health Net-TPO)

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
June 17, 2016


The Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Network conducted a PRM-funded and UNHCR-initiated research project examining Community-Based Child Protection Mechanisms (CBCPM) in Kampala and refugee camps in Rwanda. Both studies used a rapid ethnography methodology to identify local characteristics and existing protection mechanisms developed by the community. This included group discussions on child protection risks and responses, interviews with young people and organizational representatives, and activities with children to identify areas of distress and wellbeing. The full reports can be viewed here.


  • Education is the most important protection tool: Refugee Communities in Uganda and Rwanda believed education was protective in that it improved future prospects, provides a supervised space, and kept children busy.
  • Dropping out of school creates vulnerabilities: Discrimination, school fees, lack of secondary school options, and familial responsibilities cause children to leave school. Refugee children attending mainstream schools may struggle with language or other educational issues, leading them to drop out of school.
  • Parents are critical child protection actors: Parents play the most important role in child protection by observing child behavior and learning about threats through their familial and community networks.
  • Community-based groups as CBCPMs: NGOs, mosques, churches, schools and clan-based structures can reinforce protection for children through advice, financial support, and advocacy.


  • Support parent capacity: UNHCR and other organizations assisting refugees should provide training for parents to engage the school system and develop strong relationships with their children. Donors should advocate for refugees’ right to work in host countries and/or support income-generating opportunities for refugees.
  • Develop capacity of CBCPMs: UNHCR and other organizations assisting refugees should provide training, increase communication, and engage with CBCPMs that are already working in refugee communities.
  • Increase Access to Education: All child protection stakeholders should provide support and resources for children to stay in school, as well as language training and educational skills for those students entering the mainstream education system. Donor agencies should support secondary education for refugees to the extent possible.