Adjumani Design Challenge

Empowering Refugee and Host-Community Youth with Design Thinking Skills for Community Development

The Adjumani Design Challenge was initiated by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) with the goal to empower refugee and host-community youth with design thinking skills for community development. In order to enhance peaceful coexistence and build self-reliance and resilience among the refugees and host communities, DwB facilitated human centred design thinking workshops where both refugee and host community youth were given practical skills to develop innovative solutions to some of their most critical challenges.

Partner: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Year: 2016 Sector: (.....)

The Challenge:

The 'Adjumani Design Challenge' (ADC) programme hosted both refugees and host-community youth from Adjumani district in North-West Uganda, a community hosting 200,000 South Sudanese refugees. Set in a very fragile and sensitive community, DWB used a Human Centered Design approach to enable the young people to work together to identify pragmatic solutions for existing problems.

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The training took place in Adjumani, over the course of three months. Thirty youth participants between 15-31 years of age were trained from both the Ugandan host-community and South Sudanese refugees.

They consisted of both genders, and with education levels ranging from primary school to diplomas. The participants came from several different villages and refugee settlements, were divided into six teams, with a mix from host- and refugee communities.  

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DwB designed the training program which was composed of six workshops, each covering two days, taking part in the weekends to accommodate the participants who were in school. During the workshops, participants were gathered for training and in-between the workshops, the teams conducted field work.

Through the workshops the participants were taken through a redesigned HCD process that was applicable to non-designers, practicing individual steps and using a wide range of design tools, methods and practices.

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ADC took the participants through a complete design process; identifying and framing challenges; researching to understand the challenges deeper; creating ideas, concepts and prototypes, pilots and implementation. The sessions were held in a community youth center, and consisted of lectures, group work and mentorship.

Every new method introduced followed the same pattern; the facilitators presented the method and made a demonstration, involved the participants, then had the teams try the methods and apply it to their self-chosen project (“Hear, Try, Apply”). Every session started and ended with joint and individual reflection on the process, understanding how the different steps relate to the overall process of designing meaningful, relevant, useful and desirable solutions.

Key Activities

  • Ethnographic user and systems research and context analysis was conducted using interviews, workshops, surveys, site visits, focus groups, observational studies, and contextual inquiry. This ensured that all factors that relate to the context were identified for development of a tailored programme that suited the varying literacy levels and capacity of participants.Calendar and calculation tool to inform beneficiaries on when they are supposed to work and how much they earn if they go to work.
  • Participants were guided through product and service design and field testing of their new solutions developed during the training. The designs were prototyped and piloted, and ranged from farming tools, sanitation products, youth groups and financial planning tools.


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