Launch of our Youth Wellbeing Network @YWellbeingNet

We are pleased to launch our new Youth Wellbeing Network, a global network of policymakers, practitioners, researchers and youth supporting a holistic approach to young people’s psychosocial wellbeing. Like our Facebook page and join the group to share information about events, share resources and network.

UK could learn lessons from Africa in dealing with death

British society is not paying enough attention to how a death may risk pushing families into poverty and could learn valuable lessons from West Africa, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Reading and the Open University say Britain could actually learn much from the example of less affluent countries in Africa, such as Senegal. Dr. Ruth Evans’ and colleagues’ research explored people’s experiences of a family death, and analysed levels of financial, emotional and practical support offered to bereaved families in urban Senegal. The study, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, provides the first in-depth understanding of responses to death, care and family relations in an urban West African context.

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A local mosque, Guédiawaye, Dakar.

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Download the Executive Summary or full Report

Télécharger le Résumé ou le Rapport (en français)

Key findings reported in the Senegalese press

Ruth discussed the research in policy workshops in Dakar and Kaolack last week and the findings were widely reported in the Senegalese press.  The research project found that Senegalese responses to death show how close-knit urban communities support each other, in the absence of support from government or non-governmental organisations. The crucial importance of informal support from the family and community following a death suggests the need for government and NGO services to adopt a ‘whole family approach’, which recognises the reciprocal roles of different family members. This could help to link up and enhance both formal and informal support systems in urban Senegal. 

Representatives of the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Dakar policy workshop, 7th December 2015

Representatives of the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Dakar policy workshop, 7th December 2015

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Ruth presenting the findings at the Kaolack policy seminar, 4th December 2015

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NGO representatives discussion group, Kaolack policy workshop

Résumé de la recherche ‘Décès dans la famille en milieu urbain au Sénégal’

Nous avons le plaisir de présenter le Résumé de notre projet de recherche sur : ‘Décès dans la famille en milieu urbain sénégalais: deuil, prise en charge et relations familiales’, financé par le Leverhulme Trust. Les résultats seront présentés et discutés avec les intervenants lors des séminaires de diffusion à Kaolack et à Dakar et le rapport final sera publié en février 2016.

First analyses of the findings

We are continuing with our analysis of the data, as we receive the transcripts. We recently presented a paper: ‘Caringscapes in Urban Senegal: gendered and inter-generational practices of care after the death of a relative’, at the Family Geographies, Care and Relationality sessions that Ruth Evans, Sophie Bowlby and Sally Lloyd-Evans convened at the 4th International Conference of Geographies of Children, Youth and Families, San Diego, USA, 12-15 January 2015. It was good to receive questions and feedback about our initial analyses of the transcripts from the first district in Kaolack. 

Caringscapes in Urban Senegal

We have completed the fieldwork!

Ruth, Josephine and Fatou conducted the fieldwork from May to July 2014. We recruited a diverse sample of 30 families predominantly of Wolof, Serer and Hal Pulaaren ethnicities  in two areas of each of the two selected cities (Dakar and Kaolack).  Médina and Guédiawaye were selected as contrasting areas of Greater Dakar, while Touba Extension and Kasnak were selected in  Kaolack following discussions with Senegal Advisory Group members and representatives of APROFES and AFEME, women’s rights organisations. Families in the four areas were identified through a local facilitator, local or religious leaders and efforts were made to ensure diversity in ethnic and religious affiliation and socio-economic status.

In total, we conducted in-depth interviews with 59 family members (2 in each family) who had experienced the death of a relative.  The majority of families were Muslim  and a small number (6) were Roman Catholic. Family members were selected on the basis of differing generational positions within households and on the basis of their relationship to the deceased. We also prioritised children and young people where possible. We interviewed 20 key informants, comprising local and religious leaders, community-based organisations, government and NGO representatives working at local and national levels. We also conducted four focus groups (one in each area) with groups of women and young people to explore community members’ perceptions of the neighbourhood and discuss cultural and religious practices and norms surrounding death, mourning and grief.

All the audio-recorded interviews and focus groups are now being transcribed and translated into French and English and we are developing our approach to data analysis through reflexive conversations among the research team. We plan to present a paper reflecting on the methodological issues raised by qualitative cross-cultural research that investigates responses to death at the Inter-disciplinary.net conference, Making Sense of Suffering, Dying and Death in Prague, 1-3 November 2014 , if you’re planning to go!