Engaging with Faith Groups to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict-affected Communities Read more

The URDR was contracted by Tearfund and Heal Africa to lead research on their DFID-funded three-year intervention project. This project focused on primary prevention of violence against women and girls in 15 conflict-affected communities in Orientale Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. This project ran from 2015-2018. The URDR tracked its implementation and impact, including baseline and endline surveys, six-monthly cohort studies with key beneficiary groups and impact research with secondary beneficiaries. It employed focus groups and key informant interviews with faith leaders, community members, survivors and gender champions. Through this research, the URDR offered an evidence base and ongoing empirical feedback via internal reports to enable the intervention to adapt, improve and communicate its successes and challenges. More on this research is found in this final report and evidence brief.   

Religious leaders and child marriage, for Girls Not Brides      Read more

Child marriage results from the interplay of a variety of factors and happens across countries, cultures, ethnicities and religions. As religious leaders often hold considerable power and authority in their communities, engaging them can be an important part of the range of approaches needed to change attitudes and behaviours related to child marriage. At the request of Girls Not Brides, this project combined literature review, project documentation and key informant interviews, and produced a research report that investigated challenges and proposed strategies and tools for addressing child marriage with and through religious leaders. The project included perspectives and strategies relevant to three major world religions: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

Development of research agenda on Religion, Development and GBV, for PaRD Read more

The International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD), a network consisting of governmental and intergovernmental entities, civil society organisations and faith-based organisations (FBOs), aims to bring greater and institutionalised communication and coordination between secular and non-secular actors. On behalf of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, the URDR wrote a report and recommendations for the research agenda of PaRD’s Gender Equality and Empowerment Workstream.

Evaluation of Channels of Hope methodology, for World Vision International Read more

The URDR carried out a global external evaluation in 2019 of World Vision's Channels of Hope Gender (CoHG) methodology and its international scale up and adaptation to Orthodox and Muslim settings.  This builds on a 2014 URDR investigation within South Africa and Uganda to assess the influence of CoH G on issues of gender, trust, and community systems strengthening. A participatory action research (PAR) approach was followed, and a participatory assessment tool developed and pilot-tested.

The URDR also did a large summative study in 2011 on lessons learnt from the application of World Vision's  (CoH) in the Middle East and Eastern Europe (MEER) regional context. The evaluation assessed the methodology, its application and appropriateness, giving recommendations for future programming and implementation.  Training and management of on-site evaluation teams and individuals was included. 

African Leadership Study, for Tyndale House Foundation      Read more

The nature of African Christian Leadership was investigated in this two-phased quantitative and qualitative research study which took place from 2011-2016. Three countries, Kenya, CAR and Angola, were a part of the study, as well as an international research team.  The URDR was responsible for managing the fieldwork conducted in Angola and partnered with five tertiary institutions across that country. Research results were published in 2017 in book form. Click here to download a resource on leadership insights.

Youth, Social Justice and Spirituality, for Rondebosch United Church Read more

This 2017-2019 project worked with Rondebosch United Church in Cape Town as a case study around youth identity formation for intersectional social justice. It employed interviews and focused group discussions with current church youth attenders to explore their voices regarding how they understand and appropriate its progressive theological ethos on human dignity and social justice. The study probes young people's own appropriation of key theological concepts such as sin in engaging as agents of social justice change including issues of gender and sexuality.  It focuses on theological programs in youth identity formation that can shape attitudes on social justice. The research offered practical recommendations to church youth leaders across a number of denominations on nurturing current day spiritualities for social justice in the South African context.  It builds theory from below through youth voices to offer new pedagogies for social transformation.

Religion, churches, and violence against women and children in Burundi, for Episcopal Relief and Development Read more

This project studied how violence against women and violence against children is experienced in Burundian communities and the role of religion and churches in underpinning and/or countering such violence. It used interviews, focus groups, nominal groups, and participatory research workshops with over 100 rural and urban Burundian women. Research reports on this project currently remain confidential.

Faith leaders and harmful traditional practices, for Tearfund and Department for International Development UK Read more

This 2017 research project identified and explored so-called "harmful traditional practices" in different locations. In this Joint Learning Initiative-led consortium, Tearfund UK was the lead organisation and the URDR the research lead. A case study approach was used across five major international organisations in order to critically explore good practices working globally with faith leaders from different religions to address prevalent harmful practices. The aim was to increase robust evidence on the role of local faith communities in health, development and GBV prevention and to build theory from below through policy papers, research reports, articles and presentations. A number of outputs were produced, including a synthesis report, individual case study reports, policy briefs, a book chapter, and a journal article.

Churches and Sexual Violence, for Tearfund UK Read more

Five diverse communities, two in the Western Cape and three from Kwazulu-Natal, formed part of a South African empirical study on the role of the church in sexual violence. This was done for Tearfund UK in 2013. Research included surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups. The research is now being used for intervention and strategic planning as well as for advocacy purposes, specifically as impetus behind mobilising South African churches and civil society in general to actively address sexual violence. Several other research projects on sexual violence and the role of churches have been done with Tearfund UK in the DRC, Rwanda, Liberia, and Burundi and this relationship continues into the present day. A detailed research report was produced on this project.

Scoping study on sexual violence, for Department for International Development UK Read more

The URDR delivered a scoping study commissioned by DFID UK on the role of faith communities in the prevention and response to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). This included a literature review, key informant interviews, and an electronic survey, and delivered a scoping report as well as a policy brief. 

Does Faith Matter? FBOs as Civil Society Actors in South Africa Read more

This study (2016-2018) explored the current and potential role of faith-based organisations for transformation in South African society. FBOs have been at the forefront of a growing interest in the intersection between religion and development and several studies have noted the potential of FBOs to ‘add value’ to development. This study focused on better understanding the positioning of these faith-based organisations within South Africa. Fieldwork was conducted in the Cape Metropole area of South Africa, and included both quantitative and qualitative activities. This is a National Research Foundation-funded study, with Prof. Nadine Bowers Du-Toit as the lead investigator and Dr. Le Roux as a project collaborator. Project findings are described in this article.

Youth on the Margins international research collaboration     Read more

This international research collaboration focuses on the nature of faith-based organisations (FBOs) and the extent to which they contribute to the social cohesion of marginalised youths at local level. It began in 2013. Locations include South Africa, Finland, Sweden, and Norway and involve various research institutions and country researchers. Extensive literature review and theory development, as well as interviews and focus group discussions are used to explore commonalities and differences. Lessons learned are shared between the diverse contexts. It models a progressive North-South collaboration with significant policy implications.

Christian Identity Research, for World Vision                               Read more

The URDR investigated how World Vision’s Christian identity is expressed in both its programmes and in its engagement with local communities. The research project took place in 2015-16 in Senegal, Peru and Sri Lanka and included field research in all three locations. The field research in these three different global locations enabled a comparison of differences in terms of religious homogeneity and tolerance. Research findings were used to inform World Vision's internal strategy.

Human Flourishing of internally displaced people in Colombia Read more

The URDR was contracted by Fundación Universitaria Seminario Bíblico de Colombia (FUSBC) as part of an interdisciplinary team of international researchers funded by a three-year Templeton Foundation grant (2016-2018) on human flourishing and integral mission. The project studied six internally displaced peoples (IDP) communities within Colombia, and developed appropriate theological curriculum within five different themes. The URDR's specific role in the project involved a focus on sexual violence both within the project and in its wider conflict and peace building work, the on-site training of student researchers and a gender analysis of the data as well as the joint publication of academic articles and book chapters.  For more information regarding our partner on this project, click here.