Opinion

Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo
Dean for Cooperation Affairs of UPeace

See all opinions
03/07/2017 par Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo

Developing people-to-people approaches through sport

“If you want peace you need to prepare for Peace”. Inspired by the motto of the University for peace, the Karamoja Cluster Project (KCP), a cross-border program through sport, was conceived to tackle traditional pastoral and communal violence within the Karamoja Cluster of Kenya and Uganda.

The concept of peacebuilding has undergone theoretical examination from various scholarly perspectives[1]. The Karamoja Cluster Project, which began in April 2013 and used people-to-people approaches focused on addressing deep-rooted causes of conflicts by designing interventions at various levels of society. Therefore, one of the main pillars of the KCP was to promote capacity building and training through sport. We also conducted several workshops on conflict transformation and peacebuilding, peace education and resource mobilization, and social entrepreneurship and sports. 

Our objectives were to strengthen the quality, capacities, skills and resources of individuals and organizations in the region. For instance, a woman exchange program was organized to bring together women from the whole region to deliberate on the nature and consequences of violence. The overall goal of the activity was to allow women in the community to reconnect with each other after struggling through years of heavy conflict, to support forgiveness and reconciliation, and to come together as one coherent community.

Soon after the beginning of the project implementation, we realized that the Project was generating an avenue through which communities could engage in collaborative activities such as the construction of a primary school in Kanyerus West Pokot County. Following a number of mixed sports activities, people from different tribes came together to build a community market to transact and sell wares of different kinds including livestock. 

The sports-for-peace program also provided the Karachuna youth with an environment that stimulated development of self-esteem and provided an informal learning that leaded to attitudinal change. Within this framework, sports gave young warriors an opportunity to engage with (former) enemies in a controlled environment. 

After three years of ardous work, the KCP generated a real positive impact in the Karamoja region. People from different tribes felt comfortable using peaceful methods to discuss and analyze different community security situations and the causes for their conflicts and need to search for local solutions. Developing relationships through contacts is not sufficient to build sustainable peace. Deliberate and sustained efforts at nurturing built relationships are crucial for visioning a shared future. When individuals and groups are made to see value in maintaining relationships, they tend to take complete ownership and provide direction for the development of a shared future.

Share this opinion