Our research

Research plays a critical role in helping us understand and improve our work reducing poverty.

Research highlights

Some of our research highlights include:


Rapid research: VSO youth networks' response to COVID-19

This report shares findings from rapid research aimed at exploring the impact, actions, approaches,
challenges and suggestions of VSO’s youth networks in response to COVID-19 across three countries:
Kenya, the Philippines and Sierra Leone.

Download the full report: VSO youth networks' response to COVID-19 (PDF, 2 MB)

Download the summary: VSO youth networks' response to COVID-19 (PDF, 637 KB)


Youth insights: The impact of COVID-19 on young people and their participation in the response

Research carried out between April and July 2020 gathered stories from nearly 300 young people from 19 different countries, exploring both how young people are being affected by COVID-19, and how they are responding to its impacts on their lives.

Download the full report: The impact of COVID-19 on young people and their participation in the response (PDF, 519 KB)

Download the summary: The impact of COVID-19 on young people and their participation in the response (PDF, 922 KB)


Livelihoods programming and the Capability Approach

This research collaboration worked with selected programmes to explore about how the Capability Approach can help VSO deliver its People First Strategy in livelihood programming.

Livelihoods programming and the Capability Approach


Impact beyond volunteering

This study explores how the experience of volunteering creates lasting changes in VSO volunteers themselves, impacting their future behaviour, career choices and influence on others.

It draws on data from more than 2,700 volunteer alumni from across Africa, Asia and Europe, finding that the majority of volunteers are more socially active as a result of their experience.

Impact beyond volunteering


Valuing volunteering: The role of volunteering in sustainable development

Volunteer researchers worked in four countries (the Philippines, Kenya, Nepal and Mozambique), using participatory action methods to determine the unique value of volunteering in international development.

Most previous studies have focused on the effect volunteering has on the volunteers themselves, but there has been little documentation of the impact volunteering creates. VSO has always believed that people are the best agents of change, and this research now provides evidence for volunteers’ unique contribution in reducing poverty.

Valuing volunteering


Wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic: How are primary actors coping

This study focuses on understanding four critically interrelated components: social group identity, their socio-economic condition due to the COVID-19 crisis, their differential access to basic services and their priority needs – across VSO’s programmes, thematic areas and programme geographies.

Download the full report: Wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF, 573 KB)

Download the summary: Wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF, 293 KB)


Disability inclusion through the Washington Group Questions: VSO's programme experience

The Washington Group Questions were developed through a consultative process led by the UN in 2001 and have been a significant innovation for disability inclusion. This paper briefly outlines VSO’s experiences using the Washington Group Questions in identifying, including and reporting disability data.

Download Disability inclusion through the Washington Group Questions (PDF, 226 KB)


Understanding community volunteering in VSO programmes: An evidence-based case study from Cambodia's IMA4P livelihoods project

This case study focuses on mapping community volunteering within the IMA4P (Improving Market Access for the Poor) livelihoods project in Cambodia. It seeks to understand the contribution of volunteering, how volunteering impacts community volunteers, and the challenges and support required to ensure community volunteering is sustainable.

Download Understanding community volunteering in VSO programmes (PDF, 934 KB)


Wellbeing survey report: An assessment of vulnerability and inequality in the context of COVID-19 in Nepal

A wellbeing survey, completed by primary actors in ten districts of Nepal, investigates the interplay of four critically interrelated components in the context of COVID-19: individual/group identity, gaps due to the crisis, access to services, and priority needs.

Key findings include the scale of food shortages, mental health concerns, and an increase in cases of gender-based violence. Access to all services was curtailed by lockdown, with education suffering the greatest impact - 75% of respondents reported having no access to any education at all.

The results of this study will inform our future programming and policy recommendations, with a focus on improving access to health, education and livelihoods services for the poorest and most marginalised people.

Download the Wellbeing survey in Nepal report (PDF)


Psychosocial Support Project in Ethiopia: What worked, why did it work and what can we learn?

Research from February 2020 examines the successes of our Psychosocial Support Project for primary school children and teachers impacted by internal conflict in Ethiopia, in terms of improved student learning outcomes and mental health indicators.

Download the Psychosocial Support Project in Ethiopia summary (PDF)


Sisters for Sisters' Education in Nepal: Current situation of communities and educational institutions during the COVID-19 crisis

Research undertaken to understand some of the factors affecting our primary actors in our girls' education programme in Nepal. Foremost in our minds was identifying any children in immediate danger. However, we also wanted to investigate the feasibility of various alternative strategies which could be of interest to project, and policy planners.

Download the Current situation of communities and educational institutions during the COVID-19 crisis report (PDF)


Making change: An exploration into volunteer contributions to social accountability in VSO

Research conducted by IDS-VSO Social Accountability Learning Partnership examines the ways in which VSO volunteers are contributing to social accountability outcomes across our programmes.

Download the Making change report (PDF)


Engaging men: Lessons from programmes promoting the involvement of men to improve health outcomes for women, children and men

This paper considers the role of men and boys in improving their own health outcomes, their role as partners and fathers, and their role as change agents within the community and wider society. It draws on case studies from programmes in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea.

Download the Engaging men report (PDF)


IVCO papers

IVCO 2018 theme paper: Inclusive development practice for youth

As one of a series of papers exploring the 2018 conference theme 'Women and youth: bridging the gap – volunteering for inclusive development', this paper provides a brief summary of current trends in youth development, with a particular focus on volunteering for development.

Download the IVCO 2018: Inclusive development practice for youth paper (PDF)

IVCO 2017 sub-theme paper: Enabling environment

This paper focuses on the sub-theme 'enabling environment', and what this means for international volunteering for development and its role in implementing Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Download the IVCO 2017: Enabling environment paper (PDF)

IVCO 2017 sub-theme paper: Measurement

This paper focuses on the sub-theme 'measurement', and what this means for international volunteering for development and its role in implementing Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Download the IVCO 2017: Measurement paper (PDF)


Nepal: Mother tongue multilingual education report

As part of an ongoing partnership between the Language Commission of Nepal and VSO, a recent study on mother tongue based multilingual education takes a magnifying glass to selected schools in the Nepali municipalities of Temal and Phidim.

Mother tongue multilingual education report


Sustainable Development Goals Disability Tracker II: "Nothing about us, without us"

Exploring the experiences of people with disabilities in conflict and post-conflict situations in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District, India, in the context of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Download the Sustainable Development Goals Disability Tracker II report (PDF)


Rapid assessment on the status of the quarantines: Strengthening access to holistic, gender responsive, and accountable justice in Nepal (SAHAJ)

COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for marginalised and vulnerable groups such as women, children, people living in poverty and people with disabilities.

To assess the status of the quarantines in SAHAJ working palikas in Province 2 and 5 of Nepal, this is an evidence-based survey finding to understand the situation of the quarantines which will help to develop the measures to support them.

Download the Rapid assessment on the status of the quarantines in Nepal report (PDF)


Further information

For more information, or to access our full publications list, contact Miriam Karim, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator: miriam.karim@vsoint.org