STRETCH for Stigma

Stigma reinforces the exclusion of children - and reduces access to vital services

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A common approach

Research Lead
“Stigma is universal but impacts locally. Also in conflict-affected communities there are multiple stigmas that impede access, participation and inclusion. While many interventions address one stigma, we aim to develop a common approach which can be used across stigmas and settings, increasing its relevance.”

Kim Hartog, Researcher

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Want to learn more or ask a specific question? Contact Kim via email or LinkedIn.


Left behind

  • Stigmatisation is manifest in discriminating forms of behaviour such as rejection, preferential treatment and targeted violence
  • It reduces a child’s life chances and can have a significant negative impact on their physical and psychosocial wellbeing
  • Interventions to reduce stigma have typically focused predominantly on adults - leaving children behind
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A 2019 study conducted by our R&D team concluded that children remain an under-addressed target group in stigma reduction interventions with a lack of evidence-based strategies at multiple socio-ecological levels. Read the full article here.



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Drawings that were created based on feedback from trainings, want to see all of them? Download them here.


Increasing understanding

STRETCH aims for applicability to any stigma in any conflict-affected context. It encompasses three common phases with stigma reduction strategies and one phase made up of context-selectable strategies. Together they serve to increase the understanding of stigmatisation inside communities - and identify the potential resources needed to bring about change.

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In order to develop STRETCH, our research team conducted a review comparing stigma reduction strategies across stigmatised groups in low- and middle-income countries, specifically highlighting stigma reduction interventions that targeted children and adolescents.


Our partners

STRETCH is driven by collaboration with partners from the humanitarian sector and beyond.

These partners include:

Researchers supporting STRETCH:

Janepher Nyakake - Research Coordinator Uganda. Janepher has extensive experience in leading research projects at the Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Uganda.

Dr. Ruth Peters of the Vrije Universiteit is specialized in measuring stigma and dealing with leprosy-related stigma.

Dr. Brandon Kohrt is a medical anthropologist, psychiatrist and Adjunct Associate Professor of the Duke Global Health Institute.

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Who does what? Vandejong: Creative Agency producing user-friendly design Elva: The Data Science partner innovating mobile data collection Ten Have Change Management: The Knowledge partner on community driven change TPO Uganda: The Local Implementation partner working to empower communities to improve their mental health and socio-economic well-being, providing essential insights for adapting the intervention Dutch Relief Alliance: Our funding partner – a coalition of 15 Dutch aid and humanitarian organisations in partnership with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



A practice run has already been concluded in DR Congo - with a pilot implementation set to follow in Uganda.

Current research

Stigma triggers

A formative study was conducted in DR Congo to explore whether stigmatisation constructs - particularly the triggers of stigmatisation and its manifestations - were comparable between populations experiencing exclusion and discrimination as a result of social characteristics. This was found to be the case - and supported the development of a common approach.
The article, published in Elsevier’s Foundation of Science journal, can be accessed here.

Next steps

Our research agenda

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We will pilot the intervention in Uganda in 2020-2021. The aim of this study is to ensure the intervention runs smoothly and that the study design is fit for purpose. Following the pilot we will conduct further research with a much larger sample size to test for effectiveness on stigma reduction.

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Meet our Research and Development Team

Kim is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. Kim is also a member of War Child’s Research and Development team, where she leads our efforts to develop stigma reduction approaches for use in humanitarian settings.