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A Case Study on Implementing Community-Based Research: The Young Voices Project


Youth Participation

A Case Study on Implementing Community-Based Research: The Young Voices Project


Effective participation of young people is not just a future aspiration but an urgent necessity. Youth represent the present and future, and their rights are the cornerstone on which nations build their policies and programs. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure genuine and meaningful engagement of young individuals in all project stages, with a particular focus on the critical processes of needs assessment and opinion polling. In pursuit of this goal, the Dur Organization, in collaboration with the Youth for Change Network, initiated the “Young Voices” project, bringing together individuals aged 18 to 29. Through this project, opinion polls were conducted to identify their priorities and needs, with young people taking the lead in a participatory approach right from the project’s inception.

About young Voices: 

The Young Voices project, initiated by Door Beyond War (DBW) in collaboration with the Youth for Change Network (YCN), is designed to promote youth participation and inclusion in peacemaking and the decision-making process. This case study explores the participatory approach employed in the project’s implementation.

Project Stages:

  1. First Phase: The initial phase focused on empowering 40 young individuals aged 18-29 from Youth of Change YCN as Local Development Committees (LDCs) and volunteer teams in north-western Syria (NWS). Participants were trained on community organization, parliamentary life, dialogue, debate, and the participatory needs assessment process. Additionally, they gained skills in conducting opinion polls and listening campaigns.
  2. Second Stage: Qualified male and female researchers, trained in the first phase, conducted semi-structured interviews and surveys with 40 young people aged 18-29 from various regions in NWS. The data collection phase involved launching listening campaigns and opinion polls targeting 360 young men and women. These efforts aimed to identify youth priorities and establish criteria for selecting youth representatives. Data collection took place in Aleppo and Idlib governorates.

Participatory Approach: 

The project adopted a participatory approach, with DBW and YCN emphasizing collaboration among researchers, organizations, and community members. This approach encourages stakeholders to contribute their expertise, knowledge, and decision-making input. The goal of participatory community research is to increase awareness of specific issues and use that knowledge to implement social and political interventions for societal benefit.

DBW’s commitment to the participatory approach was evident throughout the project’s stages. The organization sought to activate the roles of young men and women and ensure their genuine engagement. The project aimed to create an interactive environment where all participants felt equally involved. This approach was chosen to empower youth agencies at all levels.

Key Principles and Practices:

  1. Building on Community Resources: The project relied on local youth networks, such as the YCN and local youth volunteer teams, to design and implement youth priorities research. These teams and networks played a pivotal role in the project due to their familiarity with the local context.
  2. Joint Learning and Capacity Building: A joint learning journey was initiated, featuring a closed training camp that facilitated knowledge and capacity sharing, experience exchange, and skill enhancement among young participants. Topics covered included community organization, parliamentary affairs, elections, participatory needs assessment, listening skills, dialogue, and debate skills.
  3. Training Opportunities: Opinion polls were conducted by young men and women from volunteer teams and YCN and LDCs, offering them valuable training in qualitative and quantitative data collection. Virtual training workshops equipped participants with the necessary skills, and youth input contributed to the tool’s design. Certificates were awarded to those who completed the training.
  4. Effective Communication: Regular meetings were held to ensure effective communication among all stakeholders, allowing for discussions on project progress and developments. Young researchers played a crucial role in providing context-specific analysis, particularly regarding educational, health, service, economic, and community aspects in their respective regions. Their input influenced the development of the final research tools.

Indicators and Evaluation Session with Researchers in Young Voices Project

After completing the opinion poll stage and compiling the report, the research team engaged with the field team of male and female researchers to gather their opinions and comments, given their pivotal role in the research process. During this session, various indicators were assessed through a set of questions, providing valuable insights for project evaluation. This discussion took place through Zoom platform, with researchers divided into rooms based on the five key project themes to evaluate their overall participation.

Basic Indicators:

  1. Satisfaction with Capacity Sharing and the Participation:
  • capacity sharing goes beyond sharing information; it fosters cooperation and solidarity among peers.
  • It enhances awareness of diverse perspectives and the importance of exchange in driving change.
  • Participants recognized their potential to make an impact and emphasized the need for more opportunities in their field.
  • The project’s collaborative environment, team dynamics, and open discussion contributed to effective experience exchange.
  • Initiatives like the 4-day closed camp facilitated deeper connections and understanding among participants.
  1. Role of Participation and Understanding of the project in Fostering Ownership:
  • The project fostered participation by considering the input of all participants involved in the intervention, moving away from top-down decision-making.
  • Community members are more likely to embrace research and its outcomes when conducted by peers.
  • Participation instils a sense of ownership and responsibility for the research process and results.
  • Young researchers felt a deep sense of responsibility and ownership, viewing the project as their cause and mission.
  • Their involvement in every project phase contributed to a strong sense of ownership.
  • This involvement resulted in problem identification and priority setting that aligned with questionnaire questions, enhancing research credibility.
  • A solid understanding of the project and frequent meetings allowed researchers to formulate questions effectively and engage in meaningful discussions.
  1. Experiences Gained and Development Opportunities:
  • Researchers acquired technical skills, including proficiency with Kobo and Zoom, questionnaire design, city mapping, and target selection.
  • Proficiency in program usage expanded options for question creation and opened avenues for more questionnaires.
  • Precisely identifying target resources during opinion polls offered insights for leveraging resources within Young Voices project.
  • Practical social experiences encompassed increased confidence, reduced tension when meeting new people, and adeptness in dealing with diverse personalities.
  • Researchers built social relationships and expanded their network with volunteer teams.
  • The project provided opportunities to acquire new facilitation and training experiences, enhancing the transfer of skills from trainers.
  • The experience also emphasized punctuality and time management, particularly during the camp.

 Challenges, Recommendations, and Researchers’ Opinions in the Young Voices Project

Working on Young Voices Project brought forth a variety of challenges, both technical and social, along with valuable recommendations and personal insights from the researchers themselves. This section delves into these aspects, shedding light on the multifaceted experiences within the project.

Challenges at Work:

  1. Technical Challenges:
  • Technical hurdles included difficulties in using audio recording and the Kobo program on mobile phones, exacerbated by limited access to laptops and weak internet connections.
  • Transcribing audio recordings posed challenges, particularly when sound quality was poor.
  1. Social Challenges:
  • Social challenges encompassed difficulties in comprehending some questions, especially by those with limited education or specialization.
  • Respondents occasionally inquired about the survey’s benefits and lacked information about the project’s objectives.
  • Negative perceptions about organizations added to these challenges.
  • Participants sometimes awaited responses from interviewers, affected by time constraints, distances, and transportation difficulties, especially for part-time researchers who were university students or employed.
  • Gender-related challenges included reluctance by some young women to participate in interviews or record audio.
  • The absence of a safe and neutral survey location exacerbated gender-related challenges, particularly when researchers were of the opposite sex.

Researchers’ Recommendations: 

Researchers themselves offered valuable recommendations to enhance future work: 

  • Organizing an introductory meeting between the researcher and the respondent prior to the survey. 
  • Clarifying the importance of opinion polls to the surveyed group through awareness initiatives. 
  • Providing printed copies of questions and allowing interviewees to review them in advance. – Considering eliminating audio recording in favor of written statements to alleviate discomfort. 
  • Offering financial incentives or transportation allowances to motivate respondents. 
  • Providing a safe environment and refreshments for participants, with a focus on gender sensitivity during surveys.

Researchers’ Opinions: 

Researchers shared their personal reflections on their experiences: 

  • They felt a sense of importance and involvement in decision-making. 
  • The experience increased their understanding of the issues faced by youth in their communities. 
  • Researchers emphasized the role of public opinion in driving societal change. 
  • Many found the initiative enjoyable and personally beneficial, particularly in questionnaire design and interviewing skills. 
  • Training on needs assessment was deemed highly valuable, combining theoretical knowledge with practical application. 
  • Collecting data and conducting interviews enhanced researchers’ self-confidence. 
  • The surveys provided a platform for young people to express their opinions and suggestions comfortably, addressing fundamental aspects of youth life, transcending academic and cultural backgrounds.


In conclusion, Young Voices Project’s participatory approach empowered Syrian youth by fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and capacity building. This approach enabled young people to express their opinions and contribute effectively to community development. The project’s use of participatory methods and local resources amplified its impact and effectiveness. 

The evaluation session with researchers provided valuable insights through key indicators related to satisfaction, participation, and experiences gained. These insights will inform project enhancements and guide future initiatives. The project’s commitment to collaboration, ownership, and capacity building among young researchers played a pivotal role in its overall success.

Despite facing various challenges, Young Voices Project successfully amplified the voices of young individuals and significantly contributed to understanding and addressing the concerns of youth in the region.