IOM, Local Officials Host Sports Event to Promote Social Integration

Community Stabilization, Integration, Internally Displaced Persons

Dollow - With generous support from the Peace Building Fund (PBF), the UN Migration Agency, IOM, and local authorities in Dollow district hosted a sporting event on 16 May 2018 as a practical and cost-effective tool to drive social cohesion and durable solutions.

The football tournament was held in the main Dollow stadium in Kabasa and the 300 participants included internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, members of the host community and representatives from the local authority. The IDPs and returnees were pitched against the host community. The winning team, Alta - Juba, represented the IDPs and returnees.

Ben Mbaura, a Programme Officer with IOM, said: “The eclectic ensemble of participants served to bring together people with diverse backgrounds in order to highlight commonalities and bridge cultural and ethnic divides.”

Prior to the event, IOM distributed sports kits through the local administration, youth committees and sports committee.

Mr. Mohamed Hussein Abdi, the Head of Projects and Humanitarian Liaison Officer in the Dollow District Commissioner’s Office shared the vision that they have as local government in promoting such events. He said, “As an administration, we recognize that sports help us to facilitate social mobilization as well as advocacy for IDPs and returnees acceptance within host communities. It is a means of communication and of building valuable social connection. Sports have a unique power to attract, mobilize, inspire and generate social inclusion and effective citizenship thus reduces youth violence, cultural differences, aggression, discrimination and marginalization.” He thanked IOM who helped the local administration of Dollow to successfully hold this important sports event.

19 year old Mohamed Ali was a striker on the Alta – Juba team. He said, “Sports contribute to physical fitness, well-being, self-discipline, and improve social interaction which in turn reduces stress, trauma and distress caused by displacement and other hardships.  It is after all a healthy alternative to harmful actions, such as drug abuse like chewing Khat and somebody who participates in sports will more active concurrently helping others to focus on positive things in life, contribute to the development of our community and respect for other people. When playing any sport, everyone is the same in the field whether you are rich or poor, a soldier or host community member, IDP or returnee. We all play together as a team, sports unites us as equally. We won the game and I am so glad.”

The football tournament was held with the aim of promoting unity, reintegration, social cohesion and peaceful co-existence among the displaced, returnees and host community populations. It also acted as a strategic interactive dialogue platform in creating rapport and trust between the local authority and rest of the population.

The United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sports for Development and Peace recognize that, by its very nature, sporting is about participation and it promotes inclusion and citizenship. Sports provide a platform to learn skills such as techniques that can increase opportunities for employment and income earning. Sports can also inculcate discipline, confidence and leadership and impart core principles such as tolerance, cooperation and respect. Sporting teaches the value of joint collaborative team effort and how to manage victory, as well as defeat. When these positive aspects of sports are emphasized, sporting can cut across barriers that divide societies, making it a powerful tool to support conflict prevention and peace building.

The next event scheduled to happen in Dollow will be female-dominated activities and competitions including preparation and presentation of traditional dishes, attires and games.

Dollow district in Jubaland State of Somalia is located in the North of Gedo region and shares a border with Ethiopia. The district hosts large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees from both Kenya and Ethiopia. The large number of IDPs and returnees arriving has frequently overwhelmed the local authorities and host communities’ absorptive capacity which in some instances has created resource based tensions and conflicts. Through the Midnimo (Unity) project, which is implemented by the IOM and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in collaboration with local authorities, local leadership capacities to facilitate the sustainable return, recovery, social integration and peaceful co-existence for these affected populations has improved. This can be exemplified by the promotion of government-led and community-driven community wide arts, culture and sports events across Jubaland and Somalia. These initiatives have proved to be a catalytic approach to create bridges and close the divide between IDPs, returnees and host communities.

For more information please contact the Programme Support Unit at IOM Somalia, Tel: +254715990600, Email: