The Adolescent Accelerators Research Hub  promotes evidence-based policy and programs for Africa’s young people through close collaboration with young people, policy-makers, implementers and donors.

By 2050, Africa will be home to half a billion adolescents; Africa's greatest unrealised asset. Despite the incredible potential many will be trapped in cycles of deprivation and adversity. Working with adolescents in resource-limited settings in Africa, as well as with interdisciplinary research teams, policymakers, and NGOs from around the world, we make cost-effective interventions to bring about positive outcomes for youth on the continent.


 Our Vision

Assist Africa's young people to thrive through evidence-based research, programming and policy advocacy.

  •    Our Values

    •   Relevance of Need-Driven and Impactful Work: We strive to conduct high-level, impactful research which is relevant to the priorities of the young people we work with, the contexts we work in and sector developments.
    •  Meaningful Youth Engagement : From the point of inception and throughout the course of our projects, young people will be included as collaborative partners.
    •  Open Access : Our programmes and materials are non-commercial, provided free-of-charge and with attention to overcoming technological, infrastructure and all forms of discriminatory barriers. We support open-source software, tools and forums, and make our research accessible and available to all.
    •   Ethics : We commit to establishing and maintaining fieldwork and team structures and processes that not only meet national and international regulations and legal requirements, but also expand and extend these through a strong and proactive safeguarding approach.
    •  Transparency : We commit to clear, regular and respectful communication among our teams, so that there can be shared understanding of work objectives and reciprocal awareness of workloads and workflows, capacities and accountabilities.
    •  Capacity Building : We value creating structural and individual opportunities and pathways for growth and development.
    •  Transformation : We strive to build equity and to even-out inequalities through our work. This includes equalising the balance of functions and resources.

  Our Research 

   View our past and current Publications 

Our research covers a broad spectrum of themes which relate to improving the lives of adolescents in resource-limited settings, including:

  •  Risks and vulnerabilities among older children, adolescents and young people
  •   Adolescents living with and affected by HIV/AIDS
  •   Young parents and healthy parenting
  •   Peer support and community health workers

Our research approaches include:

  • Qualitative/Formative Research
  • Quantitative Studies
  • Secondary Data Analysis (FAST)
  • Costing and Evaluation
  • Implementation Science/ Intervention Design and Testing
  • Policy and Advocacy Engagement
  • Arts-based participatory methods

Research Projects

UKRI GCRF Accelerate Hub generates evidence that describes which specific development accelerators can best support adolescents in Africa in attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is a partnership between governments, international agencies, NGOs, donors, adolescents and academics in Africa, Europe and North America. It brings together interdisciplinary research teams using trials, cohorts and adolescent participation all focused on supporting children and young people in thriving in the second decade of life: adolescence. This work is funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and mainly operates from Oxford University’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention and here at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Social Science Research. Visit their website to learn more


HEY BABY (Helping Empower Youth Brought up in Adversity with their Babies and Young children) is a collaborative research study examining protective pathways to promote resilience amongst adolescent parents and their children in South Africa. In 2016-2017, it became clear that HIV-positive adolescent mothers were struggling to disclose their status to our research team, dropping out of HIV care, and more likely to be defaulting from ART. We have developed a sub-study                                       including HIV-positive and HIV-uninfected adolescent mothers and their children. Visit their website to learn more

Mzantsi Wakho Adolescent Adherence Study was a mixed-methods, longitudinal, community-traced study examining youth health, with a focus on long-term medication, contraception, and sexual and reproductive health. Using data from the Mzantsi Wakho, the UPLIFT (Understanding Predictors of Lifelong Initiation and Follow-up Treatment for adolescents and youth living with HIV) study aims to establish a lifelong social science cohort for adolescents and youth living with HIV and identify what childhood and adolescent experiences shape later health outcomes in adolescents and youth living with HIV.

Ask-Boost-Connect-Discuss (ABCD) is an interactive app that aims addresses the psychosocial needs of adolescent women through community-clinic collaborations and a peer-delivered mHealth tool to improve mental health among pregnant and postpartum adolescent girls and young women living with HIV.  The current focus of the project is to bring together stakeholders through clinic-community conversations to co-design a GBV Screening and Support package of services for young women living with HIV.


Our current collaboration with the Global Fund is a 3-year project supported by the Adolescent Girls and Young Women Strategic Initiative has a focused goal: to support AGYW HIV incidence reduction and optimal HIV-related outcomes. Our work aims to inform efficient, integrated service provision across sectors, especially important given budgetary constraints to improve progress towards HIV incidence reduction targets for AGYW.


The ‘Khanyisa Ngemfundo’ (Be the Light through Education) research study aims to explore and understand mechanisms of support for school continuation and return among pregnant and mothering adolescents. It is a collaborative project with the South African Department of Basic Education that uses participatory, arts-based and qualitative research methods, and is currently based in the Eastern Cape. Find the toolkit here.

 Our Researchers

Our diverse team has a shared passion for what we do. Our expertise covers a wide range of disciplines. `

Unit Director: Dr. Elona Toska

  Learn more about the AARHub Research Team at UCT

 Contact Us

  •  Rebecca Maughan-Brown (Operations Manager)
  •  Adolescent Accelerators Research Hub 
    CSSR Office
    Robert Leslie Social Science Building
    12 University Avenue
    University of Cape Town