Original Research

Human subjects protection in the African context

Embry Howell, Jennifer Obado-Joel
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 4, No 1 | a106 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v4i1.106 | © 2016 Embry Howell, Jennifer Obado-Joel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 January 2015 | Published: 10 June 2016

About the author(s)

Embry Howell, Health Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, DC, United States
Jennifer Obado-Joel, Enyenaweh Research Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria


Research and evaluation are growing in Africa. All evaluators have an ethical responsibility to protect their research subjects from harm that could occur if sensitive data are revealed. In this article, we use a literature and document review to provide an overview of the protection of human subjects internationally and in Africa; we then use interviews with evaluators working in Africa to place human subjects protection principles and practice in an African context. We conclude that human subjects protection must be supported by improved guidelines tailored to the African context and local conditions; improved infrastructure for implementing and enforcing the guidelines; and increased training in awareness of human subjects principles and approaches. These efforts could stimulate increased research and evaluation and more confidence in results in the communities where research is conducted.


Africa, Evaluation; Human Subjects Protection; Law, Ethics


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