The EMPOW project researches into the health situation of refugees in Germany and develops solutions for health promotion. For this purpose, participatory research is conducted at three sites (Berlin, Hanover, Munich). This means that people with experience of forced migration work together on an equal footing with other members of their community, partners from the health sector and scientists. By involving communities, practical steps are taken to promote people’s health, strengthen communities and improve access to healthcare.

The project is affiliated with the Institute of Sociology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and is led by Prof. Dr. Hella von Unger. In addition to the LMU team, social and healthcare institutions and civil society organizations are involved as partners (GEDA e.V. in Berlin, Refugio in Munich and Landesvereinigung für Gesundheit und Akademie für Sozialmedizin Niedersachsen e.V. in Hanover).


The project is accompanied by an advisory board consisting of: Angela Kühner (IU International University Munich), Anja Dieterich (KHSB Berlin), Annette Korntheuer (Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt), Claudia Santos-Hoevener (Robert Koch Institute Berlin), Herwig Reiter (German Youth Institute Munich), Matthias Weinzierl ( Bavarian Refugee Council, Munich), Omer Ouedraogo (Deutsche Aidshilfe e.V., Berlin) and Tanja Gangarova (DeZIM Institute, Berlin).

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and is part of a larger research group (PH-Lens) on refugee health coordinated by Oliver Razum (Bielefeld University). The full project title is called “Vulnerability and Empowerment: Participatory Approaches to Health Promotion with Refugees” (EMPOW).


The objectives of the EMPOW project include:

  1. participatory and community-based analysis of health-related needs and resources of selected refugee groups in Berlin, Hanover and Munich
  2. developing practical health promotion measures with and for refugees
  3. understanding how vulnerability, othering and empowerment affect refugees and what these terms mean to them in the context of health

The work at the three sites are presented on the following pages:

EMPOW Berlin
EMPOW Hanover
EMPOW Munich