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Sport for development: Emergency tool for refugees and internally displaced persons in Nigeria

Copyrights: FAME Foundation

Sport for development: Emergency tool for refugees and internally displaced persons in Nigeria

A project started by FAME Foundation in Nigeria strives to penetrate rural communities and IDP camps in Nigeria in order to change mindsets and impact women and girls directly with the use of sports.

The Nigerian refugee and internal displacement crises call for emergency as millions have been driven from their homes as a result of the insurgency of the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria. Competitions between pastoralists and farmers have also caused drastic damage to communities, and have led to the displacements of people in the central areas of Nigeria.

Many people especially women and girls have had to experience violations of their rights to peace and security, quality education, and much more. Despite the effort of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) alongside several public and private agencies, women and girls in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps in Nigeria have suffered more as victims of sexual and gender-based violence, kidnapping, and lack of access to basic healthcare and quality education.

It is time for everyone interested in creating better opportunities for, and reforming communities of internally displaced persons and refugees to see sports as a tool. Sport is a unifying language. It is a universally accepted platform that aids informal learning and all-round development of the people involved. Sport also promotes inclusion and reduces inequality because it provides an unbiased platform for people to relate.

People who have run from their homes do not belong to a structured community that will cater to their psycho-social needs. FAME Foundation recognises that sport plays a huge role in solving this problem by creating social groups that will promote better physical and mental health, reduction in criminal and antisocial behaviours, increased access to quality education, and better inter-social relationships.

By taking a step to create these opportunities, the PLAYit DREAMit Initiative was created. This project strives to penetrate rural communities and IDP Camps in Nigeria in order to change mindsets and impact women and girls directly with the use of sports.

PLAYit DREAMit activities include physical exercises to improve physical health, mentorship and awareness to promote and monitor better mental health, personal hygiene, career development, and provide psycho-social support.
Sports as a tool for development of internally displaced people in Nigeria is a strong weapon for change, yet it bags its fair share of risks. Nigeria is a diverse society, and so are these IDP camps we intend to work with.

Due to this diversity, people have different mindsets and cultural beliefs that may expose women and girls to danger. One of which is harassment and shunning from the members of their immediate community or even family because of their involvement in sports. In order to combat this, as a group who seeks for development for these people, we must partner with government agencies and sports institutions, to enlighten the members of their community on the importance of sports for women and girls for their development and the development of the community at large.

In addition to this, policies to safeguard them should be put in place, as well as measures to ensure the implementation of these policies. Sports is a unique method of working towards the development of refugees and internally displaced people in Nigeria. It is a movement that is worth investing time and resources in.

Girls and women, alongside youths, are hungry for a change, they need something to hope for. To progress, we must all come to fully understand and utilise sports as a tool for development.

Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello is a Sports Governance expert, an award-winning Sports Investigative journalist, and a Sports for  Development Enthusiast. She is a 2019 alumnus of the Global Sports Mentoring Programme by the US Department of State and currently an Executive Director of FAME Foundation, a gender-based NGO, based in Nigeria.



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Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 12:38

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