The Family Strengthening Programme in Gasaka, Rwanda: The route to empowerment?

Camilla Degn Bauner

Student thesis: Master thesis


This study asked: How does the Family Strengthening Programme (FSP) in Gasaka, Rwanda affect caregivers’ and children’s empowerment processes. A pragmatic approach to answering this research question has resulted in an abductive method that involves ‘going back and forth’ between the different types of empirical data and applied theories. Based on case study research, empirical data was obtained through group interviews and individual interviews with selected stakeholders. The analytical framework developed to explore the research question is based on literature from both Development Studies and Psychology, and brings together two theories: Psychological Empowerment and Self-Determination (SDT). In this study, Empowerment comprises the concepts of Power, Choice, Aspiration, and Capabilities, while SDT comprises the concepts of Supportive Environments, Perception of Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness. As a result of the abductive approach, the framework has been adjusted to the existing literature and the empirical findings of this study, and thus consists of the following three constructs: Supportive Environments, Capabilities, and Aspirations. As part of their enrolment in the FSP, caregivers and children are introduced to various interventions facilitated by the FSP. The caregivers’ and children’s experiences and interactions within these FSP contexts were analysed. It is seen that caregivers and children are psychologically empowered through supportive environments, which enables them to enhance their ‘power with’ and ‘power to’ support one another, and to improve their economic, social and psychological capabilities, all of which in turn leads to ‘power within’. Moreover, they improve their capabilities and their ability to choose according to their own interest. This fosters feelings of autonomy and competence, which in turn leads to empowerment. Finally, caregivers and children have entered a process of aspiration. Through the different interventions, they learn how to make plans and set goals according to their capabilities. This enhances their decision-making power and allows them to think positively about the future. In general, both caregivers and children are motivated to engage in different activities, which enables them to change their current situation. They are considered psychologically empowered as supportive environments have empowered them to realise how to combine their experiences and capabilities in order to achieve their aspirations. Furthermore, most of the caregivers and children perceive themselves as capable of and entitled to do so.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages96