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Sport for good: Unifying communities and inspiring positive interaction in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement

Combining the power of sport and mentoring to inspire interaction amongst children and young people in Kiryandongo and empower leaders.

Photo of Gunnar Hagstrom
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Kiryandongo, Uganda, is a melting pot of nationalities, religion and culture: with over 100,000 refugees from over 30 different tribes and nationalities plus a host population of over 250,000. On-the-ground experience combined with research undertaken by PeacePlayers International indicates at least four nationalities are hostile towards each other; 45% of host and refugee populations do not regularly interact; and 60% of young people state that trauma from past experiences discourages integration. The vast majority of the refugee population at Kiryandongo are known to be children and young people under the age of 18: - High dropout rates in education and few structured activities leave young people idle and with little exposure to life outside the settlement and/or other cultures. - The majority of young people are displaying signs of trauma as a result of previous experiences and their displacement: exhibiting severe withdrawal, aggression and violent behaviours, or a reduced ability to form positive relationships. - Combining high levels of trauma with idle time is leading to regular conflict between different groups; low levels of confidence and high social isolation; and few opportunities for young people to grow and prosper. Our sporting solution addresses the root causes of this problem and is led by young people with lived experience. Building on a successful pilot over the last two years, the project features: - Actors of change: young people from both the host community and the settlement are supported to lead and facilitate sporting activity for others and hone their own leadership skills. - Sport and physical activity: coaches and young leaders will facilitate daily sporting activity: using a combination of skills sessions, outdoor learning and games to engage young people, build confidence, and encourage social interaction. - Counselling and psychotherapy: young people will receive counselling to manage and overcome trauma

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda provides shelter, land and support for over 100,000 displaced people from Kenya, South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Real Medicine Foundation has an established presence at the settlement; partnering with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 2008. Laureus have been working with RMF to pilot our sporting intervention over the last two years. There is already demand amongst young people to replicate this intervention in Bidibidi.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Sport brings people together: it is a safe haven in which people - no matter their background, culture or challenges - can experience joy and interact whilst building skills and traits to fulfil their potential. We will connect displaced young people with their neighbours by engaging them on a level playing field: encouraging them to interact socially, build bonds with team-mates and coaches, and restore a sense of normalcy.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

A lack of interaction between people from different ethnic and cultural groups prevents the development of the bonds of trust and the sense of belonging which underpin successful communities. A lack of meaningful social mixing contributes significantly towards ignorance and/or a lack of understanding of religious and cultural differences; encouraging prejudice and feeding fear, anxiety and tension. We will connect different ethnic and cultural groups through sport and enable regular social interaction and mixing. Sport is a proven mechanism of bringing about exchange and building relationships between different groups: it is a non-verbal means of communication; a means to engage in collective experience and establish direct physical contact. Regular interaction between displaced young people and their neighbours will present opportunities for them to mix, learn, enjoy themselves and develop confidence that will help them grow and prosper.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Displaced young people will regularly interact with neighbours and other social/cultural groups through sport: they will be less likely to be left idle in the day and have greater exposure to life outside of the settlement and other cultures. Displaced young people who have experienced trauma will build the confidence and social network to share their experiences, manage their behaviours and be drawn towards more socially acceptable patterns of behaviour. The young people of Kiryandongo settlement and Kiryandongo district will be less likely to engage in conflict. Instead, no matter their background, culture or challenges – they will come together through sport to experience joy and interact whilst building skills and traits that will help them fulfil their potential.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

‘Using the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Proving that sport can change the world.’ Founded under the Patronage of Nelson Mandela in 2000, Laureus has since funded, nurtured and built more than 180 sport for development programmes in 40 countries. Displaced children and young people have been fashioning balls from old clothes or plastic bags when nothing else is available for decades. Sport is the lifeblood of displaced communities all over the world, and has been recognised by the UN in their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developments as able to play a vital role in the realisation of peace, empowerment of young people, and improvements to health, education and social inclusion. Real Medicine Foundation has been working in refugee settlements in Uganda since 2008 and has witnessed first-hand the impact sport can have through Buwate Sports Academy: using sport to teach tolerance and activate healing for children in Buwate Village.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

There are over 266,197 residents in Kiryandongo district, and the UNHCR indicate there are more than 100,000 asylum seekers and refugees living in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement. Many are from South Sudan; however, there are over 30 tribes and nationalities with different religions, customs, and needs living in the area. Research undertaken by PeacePlayers indicates at least four nationalities are hostile towards each other; 45% of host and refugee populations do not regularly interact; and 60% of young people state that trauma from past experiences discourages integration. The vast majority of the refugee population at Kiryandongo are known to be children and young people under the age of 18. Data collected by the UNHCR in 2018 indicates that: - 63% of the population at the settlement are under the age of 17 - 62% of households contain at least one unaccompanied or separated child - Nearly 20% of households with school-aged children have at least one child not enrolled in school

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

The delivery of the programme will be led and designed by displaced young people and the host community. RMF has previously built the capacity of 500 refugee and host community youths to become actors of change, and will be using this experience to create actors of change through this programme at Kiryandongo. Young people from both the host community and the settlement will be supported to lead, deliver and facilitate sporting activity for others and hone their own leadership skills. These young leaders will act as role models and trusted peers for other participants in the programme. The settlement also has an existing governing leadership structure including a Cabinet member responsible for youth development. The Cabinet has experience of overseeing sport interventions, primarily around a 3-month long soccer tournament. Real Medicine Foundation has a strong relationship with these elected leaders and we will be using their experiences and leadership to engage the wider community.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Laureus will oversee the programme, using our extensive experience providing our “funder+” model of capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, and sharing of learning and best practice to build the capacity and sustainability of the programme and Real Medicine Foundation. We lead a Learning Community that regularly brings together organisations using sport to create peaceful communities all over the world, through which RMF will come together with others to share learning, discuss issues, and share models of best practice etc. Real Medicine Foundation will facilitate activity on the ground, using their expertise and unique methodology to train and engage young people to facilitate sport for their peers. Real Medicine Foundation maintains a tripartite agreement with the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Uganda to act as Healthcare partner to Kiryandongo settlement and will utilise this existing partnership to leverage relationships and facilitate engagement in the project.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and Real Medicine Foundation

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Laureus Sport for Good exists to champion the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage around the world. Founded under the patronage of Nelson Mandela in 2000, we support over 180 sport-for-development initiatives across 40 nations, reaching nearly 240,000 children and young people. We engage in long-term flexible funding, capacity building and knowledge sharing – enabling us to demonstrate the effectiveness of sport for development in producing life-changing outcomes for vulnerable young people. Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) provides humanitarian support to people living in disaster and poverty stricken areas, focusing on the person as a whole by providing medical/physical, emotional, economic, and social support. Founded in 2005 in response to the tsunami disaster in South-East Asia, RMF has aligned with governments and international agencies in twenty-five countries, with seventy active interventions around the world.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United Kingdom

Organization Headquarters: City / State


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A video filmed for World Refugee Day

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh

Hi @Gunnar Hagstrom great to have your idea on the platform for the challenge. It's exciting and I really like your idea. As the ideas phase comes to an end today the 17th of August, we would encourage you to again have a look at the evaluation criteria here

Also, it will be exciting for your to check out other ideas on the platform, provide some feedback and explore potential areas of collaboration with them. Check out the Migration Lab Program