Implementing and evaluating interventions in humanitarian settings in low- and middle-income countries presents unique challenges that are little addressed in the implementation literature. We document the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating the Amenah pilot intervention that aimed to mitigate the drivers of early marriage in a Syrian refugee community in Lebanon. Adolescent girls’ vulnerability to early marriage increases following displacement due to poverty, insecurity, and school disruptions. We delineate how, as a local research team, we triangulated evidence from the international literature and formative community research to make informed decisions during the intervention’s design and implementation phases. The pilot was delivered to 203 Syrian refugee schoolgirls aged 11–14 years during the 2017–2018 academic year. It consisted of 16 structured, interactive sessions with girls and a set of facilitated meetings with the girls’ mothers, both of which were implemented by trained female community workers from the Syrian refugee community. Process evaluation results showed that sociodemographic factors predicted attendance among mothers, but relationships with peers in the intervention were the only significant predictor of attendance among girls. The primary outcomes of the pilot were attitudinal measures related to education and marriage. Attitudes toward education were highly positive at baseline and did not change over the course of the intervention. There were no significant changes in girls’ ideal age at marriage. Among girls aged 13 and older at endline, the mean self-reported expected age at marriage increased slightly from 20.2 to 20.8 years (P<.05). Our results also suggest that girls may adjust their expected age at marriage downward as they become older and if they drop out of school. We reflect in the discussion on some of the challenges encountered and lessons learned for the benefit of researchers intending to conduct community-based interventions in displacement settings.
This article was originally published in Global Health: Science and Practise, on February 28, 2022.
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