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Canoeing Builds Bridges Between Divided Communities

Canoeing Builds Bridges Between Divided Communities

The International Canoe Federation has created a partnership with 'Peace and Sport' for peace education in Africa.

Monaco, 5 August 2008. The International Canoe Federation (ICF) today announced its partnership with the international organisation 'Peace and Sport' based in Monaco to implement peace education programmes on the African continent.

Under the terms of the agreement, the ICF will support action implemented by Peace and Sport in several countries in the Great Lakes Region, notably in Burundi and Rwanda where Peace and Sport already has a presence and is working on several projects. These operations aim to reconcile communities that have been divided by conflict and to create favourable conditions for Sustainable Peace.

Given the natural environment of the Great Lakes Region which abounds with lakes and rivers, Canoeing seems a particularly appropriate sport to practice. The geography of these nations means that populations are often separated by water; this physical separation leads to cultural distancing, misunderstandings and intolerance, sometimes even leading to war. By developing the practice of Canoeing the ICF and Peace and Sport hope to encourage dialogue and sharing  as the fundamental nature of Canoeing is the image of a boat propelled in a forward direction and serves as a unifying symbol amongst cultures and nations dating back 5000 years in history.

Initial visits to the area allowed representatives to identify the sports disciplines most adapted to the local environment: Flatwater, Slalom and Marathon are easy to practice in a natural environment and Rwanda and Burundi fit this criteria.

In Rwanda where isolated populations live on the islands of Lac Kivu, programmes to introduce Canoeing mean that they interact more regularly with urban inhabitants for competitions and for communal training sessions. Once this contact has been established in a structured, good-natured framework to encourage communication, different populations will understand each other better and relations between them will be pacified.

Under the terms of the Partnership, the ICF will make sizable contributions of equipment to Peace and Sport. The ICF will also organise training for local instructors who remain on site and ensure long-term supervision of the sport.

Other fruits of the ICF/Peace and Sport partnership will soon be seen in Rwanda; for example the creation of a new National Canoe Federation equipped with 20 boats.

Peace and Sport has coordinated the programmes in close collaboration with governments, actors from the world of sport and local NGOs who will be there to monitor operations and make sure that equipment is properly managed.

In Burundi, the Locally-Based Project will elevate the National Canoe-Kayak Federation to a first-rate actor for society. Peace and Sport will act as a springboard to popularise the sport, to introduce a more ambitious sports calendar, to discover young talent and to find concrete opportunities for commercial development.

Canoeing, a sporting lifestyle with attitude in a natural setting, is able to alter people's lives and make them aware of the environment. The Great Lakes Region is a perfect site for the practice of recreational and professional Canoeing.

According to Simon Toulson, General Secretary of the ICF:
"The partnership with Peace and Sport will allow us to accelerate the growth of our sport in numerous countries, especially on the African continent where we particularly want to get involved. Over and above sports values linked to its practice, canoeing is very educational: it promotes increased understanding of ecosystems and deeper knowledge about environmental protection issues. It's also an important factor in economic development. We are extremely happy to be able to contribute to such an ambitious project for economic and social development that can change the lives of hundreds of young people in vulnerable situations."

Joël Bouzou, President of Peace and Sport, added:
"Each sport, each discipline has its own special characteristics to answer the needs of different communities. This is certainly the case for Canoeing; it's the perfect sport to make use of pedagogic and educational virtues to benefit isolated populations in the Great Lakes Region. Following our recent partnership with the International Judo Federation, this agreement with the ICF will allow us to be more targeted,  more equipped to provide the right resources for each  project that we are operating in this region that has so much suffered and deserves to be supported in its peace-building action."

For further information, download the press release or contact:
Peace and Sport
Tel: +377 9797 7800 or email:
International Canoe Federation
Tel: +41 21 612 02 90 or email:


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Peace and Sport


Sunday, August 10, 2008 - 23:00


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