VAC Survey Research Fellowships

Training, empowering and resourcing the next generation of researchers, advocates and activists committed to ending violence against children, especially sexual violence, is one of the most important investments we can make.

There are notable inequities in research on violence against children. For example, most articles published with data from the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) are authored by researchers in high income countries. This limits the extent to which the findings influence programs and policies in low and middle income countries, where most of the VACS have been conducted.

The VACS Research Fellowship strengthens individual and institutional capacity to conduct research on violence against children and contributes to growing the evidence base for addressing and preventing violence. The fellowship aims to train scholars from countries where VACS have been conducted in the use of VACS data to drive evidence-based policy and programs.

TfG research fellows
An AfriChild training of researchers in Uganda as part of the VACS research fellowship.

Together for Girls and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partner with institutions in countries that completed a VACS to implement the research fellowship program and provide training and mentoring to junior and senior researchers. VACS research fellows join a research team housed at the in-country institution and work together to conduct secondary analyses of VACS data, draft manuscripts for publications and present their findings to stakeholders and policy makers.

Get to know our research fellows and some of the work they've been doing:


Agatha Kafuko

Agatha is an Assistant Lecturer at Makerere University in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration. She holds a MA in Social Sector Planning and Management.

Agatha has over 15 years experience working in applied social research, evaluation and programming in the field of social development in Uganda. She has academic and professional training in social research methodologies. She is proficient in the use of qualitative and statistical software programmes.

Agatha has considerable professional experience designing, managing and implementing mixed methods, quantitative, qualitative and participatory research projects. She is currently a PhD Researcher at the School of Social Sciences, at Makerere University and her project is about the recovery of survivors of childhood sexual abuse in post conflict Northern Uganda.

Agatha's research project focuses on the different forms of violence and mental health consequences among adolescent girls aged 13 – 17 using data from the 2015 Uganda National Violence Against Children Survey. The evidence will be used by policy makers and practitioners to design, finance and implement interventions that target the mental health needs of affected children.

Work with VACS data
Agatha's research project focuses on the different forms of violence and mental health consequences among adolescent girls aged 13 – 17 using data from the 2015 Uganda National Violence Against Children Survey. The evidence will be used by policy makers and practitioners to design, finance and implement interventions that target the mental health needs of affected children.

Kenneth Olido

Kenneth holds a PhD and MSC in Marketing from Gulu University. His research interests are in business management, marketing, procurement and statistics. Dr. Olido started his career with Gulu University in 2002 as a Teaching Assistant. Currently he is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Procurement Management at the same university.

Dr. Olido has collaborated with AfriChild Centre as a Trainer in quantitative data analysis in a program for training inter-university senior researchers from 7 universities in Uganda.

Work with VACS data
Dr. Olido's research project focuses on assessing the association between adverse childhood experience and risks of HIV infection among adolescents aged 13 to 24.

Three AfriChild staff also participated in the research fellowship:

  • Clare Bangirana is the Director Research and Knowledge Development and researches mental distress among females exposed to childhood sexual violence in Uganda
  • Mathew Amollo is a Research Manager and explores the effect of witness violence in childhood on perpetuation of intimate partner violence in adulthood among young adults in Uganda
  • Maria Ndibalekera is a Research Assistant and examines the effect of childhood sexual violence on education achievements for girls aged 18-24 in Uganda.

Marlon Osman Meléndez

Marlon graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Statistics and Master's degree in Epidemiology from Universidad Autónoma de Nicaragua, León (UNAN-León) in 1996. His main area of expertise is public health. He started as research assistant for the Center of Demography and Health of UNAN-León and later became a researcher for the joint program between CDC and the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.

During 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marlon supported the modeling of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Honduras through The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Work with VACS data
With the technical support of the Instituto Universitario en Democracia, Paz y Seguridad (IUDPAS) of la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Marlon conducted a secondary analysis with data from the 2017 Honduras Violence Against Children Survey. The analysis looked at the effect of orientations to prevent bullying, fights, violence and teach anger management on the prevalence of sexual and physical violence among 13-24 year-olds in Honduras. This study generated scientific evidence that supports the importance of fostering this type of interventions in school settings. A report of the findings was published by the Government of Honduras and partners in 2021.

Honduras Data-to-Policy Fellowship

National leaders, especially governments, play a crucial role in the data-to-action process. To support national engagement across sectors, Together for Girls piloted a Data-to-Policy Fellowship in Honduras, the first Latin American country to complete a VACS.

The Data-to Policy Fellowship was created in collaboration with the CDC with funds from the World Bank Sexual Violence Research Initiative Award. The Fellowship is part of Together for Girls’ broader effort to strengthen national capacity, promote evidence-based policies to address violence in childhood and support governments undergoing the VACS initiative.

In the Honduras pilot, the Data-to-Policy Fellow is Gustavo Bardales, the director of the Safer Municipalities Program of the Sub-Secretary of Security in Prevention, the lead ministry of the VACS initiative for Honduras. Gustavo, in collaboration with the IOM, USAID and CDC convened a progress meeting on the VACS initiative in Honduras where more than 40 individuals attended, representing the government, civil society and youth. Throughout the fellowship, Gustavo continued to engage the multi-sectoral task force through regular meetings focused on using VACS data to set priorities, design programs and improve violence prevention policy. The TfG Data-to-Policy Fellowship in Honduras has enriched the VACS initiative, improved stakeholder engagement and ensure a stronger commitment by all those involved.

For more information about the fellowship program, read our guest post on the World Bank blog, “Data for policy: Building a culture of evidence-based policies to address violence against children.”