The SRHR Needs and Challenges of Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Humanitarian Settings in Nigeria and Uganda: A Quantitative Report

Publication year


Publication Author

Chimaraoke Izugbara

By the end of 2021, the global population of forcibly displaced peoples was over 89 million, most of them being internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees. One-fifth of all refugees worldwide are in sub-Saharan Africa, with Uganda hosting the most in the region at 1.5 million, 81% of whom are women and children. In north-east Nigeria, around 2.2 million people – half of which are women or girls – are currently displaced, largely due to the Boko Haram insurgency. Young people and adolescents represent a significant portion of the population, with over half of those displaced aged less than 18 years old.

Due to the critical development stages occurring for 15-24-year-olds and their unique health needs, humanitarian settings place additional strains on young people. There is an increased risk of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) vulnerabilities and gender-based violence (GBV) for young women and girls, who additionally tend to have worse health outcomes compared to host-country populations. Their vulnerabilities often include unsafe abortion, high maternal mortality, early and forced marriage, early and unintended childbearing, trafficking, intimate partner violence (IPV), and sexual exploitation, among others.

Despite the knowledge of the adverse health outcomes and SRHR vulnerabilities affecting women and adolescent girls in humanitarian settings, access to quality care remains limited, particularly for young people. While greater attention has been placed on the health needs of this group in the past two decades, they remain an underserved population when it comes to adequate SRHR care. Services are often available in some capacity but may be limited in what they offer, provide a low quality of care, or have little recognition in the setting.

In order to better address SRHR care access needs for young women and adolescent girls in humanitarian settings, greater insight is required into the needs and experiences of this population. Focusing on young women and adolescent girls in an IDP camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, and a refugee camp in Isingiro, Uganda, this report provides greater insight into their sexual and reproductive health needs and challenges. It specifically focuses on living conditions in the camp; contraceptives, pregnancy, and abortion; use of sexual and reproductive health services; intimate partner violence; and gender-based violence. The report is part of a larger project to generate evidence to improve the design and delivery of SRHR services to girls and young women in humanitarian contexts. 

Publication Rights:

Roth, C., Bukoye, F., Kunnuji, M., Schaub, E., Kanaahe, B., Atukunda, D., Esiet, A., and Izugbara, C. (2022). The Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs and Challenges of Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Humanitarian Settings in Nigeria and Uganda. International Center for Research on Women, Washington, DC.