“Our research catches people’s own voices. We want it to be useful to our people. We researchers come from the community and we ask our own questions and find our own answers. We will take the book back to the community so people can use it. We will call our brothers and sisters, to strengthen our friendship and encourage them that there is something to be done.”
In November and December last year a group of young Karimojong men and women spent five weeks researching the lives of young people living in Moroto and Napak Districts of Karamoja sub-region in Uganda. The research team recently shared their findings in an illustrated book “Strength, Creativity and Livelihoods of Karimojong Youth”.
90 young people volunteered to be part of the research, 13 were selected. These young researchers spent time learning about the principles of action research before designing their own research process. The research team travelled to 16 settlements and kraals to ask questions and listen, regularly meeting to discuss the stories and photographs being collected. After conducting 378 interviews with over 500 people and taking hundreds of photographs, the research team sat together to analyse their findings and develop their book.
The research team’s book uncovers the harshness of the work many young people are doing in Karamoja. Few young people the team met had cows left after the years of conflict. Many were making a living through risky work such as mining and quarrying. However, the book also highlights the great strength of the young Karimojong: respect for others, strength of mind, flexibility, carefulness and knowledge, and respect for law and tradition. It is through using this strength that young people are building their lives. The book includes a request from the young researchers:
“We suggest that when outsiders come to work in the region they should please read the book. They will respect our strengths and work with them. They will find out what we have to say.”
Members of the youth research team talking to the community (Picture: PCI)
Over the next month the research team will take the report back to the communities they visited, discuss the findings and decide what they would like to do next. The report will also be shared with government officials, NGOs and other development partners. For Restless Development, the research offers useful knowledge that can strengthen our programming and advocacy work in Karamoja. We also hope to be able to continue to support the research team as they continue their action research journey.
Restless Development worked with the Pastoralist Communication Initiative (PCI) and the UK Institute of Development Studies (IDS) on this research. PCI trained the research team and facilitated the process with advisory support from IDS. UNFPA and DFID funded the research.
 enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within a settlement or village