Ayo Marie Degett

Ayo Marie Degett

PhD student

Primary fields of research

In my PhD project I want to understand refugees’ everyday interest in - and opportunities for – participating in decisions in humanitarian action. I explore this through long-term ethnographic fieldwork among South Sudanese refugees in Uganda and Syrian and Sudanese refugees in Jordan.


The point of departure for my research was the momentum for change captured in the plea for a so-called Participation Revolution in a global policy commitment signed in 2016 by 62 of the largest humanitarian agencies and donors calling toinclude people receiving aid in making the decisions that affect their lives. My findings strongly confirm, the grounds for this policy which is that the formal processes for participation implemented (and refined) for half a century, do not deliver what they set out to do. I argue that subjective dispositions on the part of both refugees and staff in refugee settings, appear to be decisive factors for how decisions are taken and for how refugees try to influence initiatives and use humanitarian action to reach specific ends.


In my research, I am following the implementation of specific humanitarian initiatives from within the machinery of the aid sector (and the professionals working there) and, simultaneously, from the perspective of refugees participating in them, all of which I discuss from the overall perspective of the abovementioned global policy commitment on participation.


This project is an industrial PhD programme. I am employed with Danish Refugee Council and my findings will involve application to policy and practice. The project is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark and Danish Refugee Council.

ID: 97573485