Families: Shaping Contexts for Youth Well-being and Adult Transitioning

Project Leader

Prof. Tumi Khumalo


This is a South Africa – Kenya collaborative research project which has the general aim of exploring youth (adolescent and young adults) well-being, development and transitioning into adulthood in the context of their families and communities. Although family functioning in interaction with other community-level socio-environmental factors have been known to influence psychosocial well-being and adjustment of people in their youth and later life, this link is not linear and its dynamics are complex. This complexity can be explained by the dynamic nature of cultural norms values and conventions, evolving structure of the family as well as structural differences in community resources. Notwithstanding the fact that current literature is mainly informed by studies conducted in the West, youth and family life in Africa pose a unique set of circumstances. The bulging youth population renders Africa the youngest continent at present and foreseeable future. These young people are also faced with a range of life-limiting problems such as HIV, teenage pregnancy, poor access to education, unemployment, poverty and urban migration. Therefore the need exists to explore the positive and negative psychosocial outcomes accounted for by family structure and functioning, taking a socio-ecological perspective as well as applying community participatory approaches.

The project undertakes to conduct qualitative and quantitative, basic and applied research in order to understand the dynamics of families and how they influence youth well-being and successful transitioning to adulthood. Through applied research approaches such as community participatory activities, including engagement with community collaborative boards, appreciative inquiry and participatory photography, community-driven strategies towards well-being enhancement will be devised and implemented.