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Project Outline

Page history last edited by Keith Lyons 9 years, 7 months ago


Teaming UP for Refugees: The Challenge


Joining together to create implementation tools, increase visibility, promote advocacy, raise awareness, and advance funding for refugees




Executive Summary


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve forced displacement problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally, or to resettle in a third country.


UNHCR’s work centers on improving the livelihoods of refugees and providing opportunities for a better future. UNHCR and its partners cooperate with displaced communities in finding durable and innovative solutions to address the challenges faced by refugees. Promoting access to such resources as quality education, technology, and sport and recreational services for all displaced people have been key components of building a brighter future, particularly for young people.


Many challenges to achieving the objective of enhanced protection for displaced communities prevail. Such obstacles include cultural practices such as early marriages and prohibitive gender norms, insufficient safe environments for learning and play, large numbers of out-of-school adolescents, limited opportunities for further education and vocational skill training, restrictive national policies, and weak monitoring and response capacities. In terms of sports, previous experience shows that a lack of financially viable options and useful implementation guidelines have made it particularly difficult to ensure access to sports programs for refugees. 


In light of this challenge, UNHCR is seeking support from universities with the necessary experience and expertise to develop user-friendly toolkits for putting sports programs for refugees into practice. The main focus of the activities outlined in this concept note are aimed at obtaining increased resources for sports program development and implementation, increasing the visibility of UNHCR globally, raising funds for sports programming, and promoting advocacy on behalf of refugees across college campuses worldwide.


The unit primarily responsible for the organization, implementation, and coordination of this project is the Sports Development unit, which is under the umbrella of the Private Sector Fund Raising (PSFR) within the Division for External Relations (DER). As this initiative develops, the opportunity for increased proliferation of the UNHCR brand will be significant, thus involving other departments within UNHCR such as Media Relations, Protection, Operations and Legal Advice.


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Background Information – Sport, Refugees and UNHCR


UNHCR has more than 250 operations on every continent in the world wherever there are people displaced because of conflict, and the agency has implemented sports programs in many of these locations. There are a number of reasons for systematically integrating sport and play programmes into refugee settlements. One of the primary rationales is the protracted nature of refugee situations; today, refugees in Africa live in camps or settlements for an average of 17 years. Sport programs can provide a sense of normalcy and stability in refugees’ uprooted lives, offer long-term health benefits, and teach communities important skills such as teamwork, communication, respect, commitment, and dealing with victory and hardship.


Sport programs are especially valuable as they target refugee children and youth who are at a crucial stage of physical, moral and social development. The main protection issues that displaced youth face in a refugee/IDP (internally displaced) settlement are related to trauma, separation from family, military recruitment, health/HIV/AIDS, lack of education, gender inequality, and sexual and gender-based violence. Sport can help mitigate all of these factors, transforming the lives of children in comprehensive and innovative ways. Sports create a safe environment away from violence and exploitation; give voice to refugee youth, thereby empowering the leaders of tomorrow; promote values of tolerance and teaching conflict resolution skills; provide a forum for community involvement; foster a sense of belonging and refugee integration into local communities; help overcome trauma; promote inclusion of those with disabilities; and more. 



Program Summary and Considerations



The primary purpose of this project is to develop a comprehensive user-friendly toolkit outlining the strategic implementation of sport programs for refugees. This toolkit will be available to anyone who wants to access it (i.e. field practitions, coaches in refugee communities, local NGOs, etc.). Further, partnering with universities will not only offer expertise resources on the subject matter, but also increase awareness about UNHCR and the global plight of refugees.



In this program, students at universities all over the world will collaborate to create toolkits for implementing sports programs for refugees. Each school will develop a curriculum to complement the project. UNHCR will supply participants with information about refugees, context case studies, sport for development resources, and a template for the proposed toolkit. A separate class does not need to be approved to participate in this project.  We envision that this program be incorporated into an already-existing course, serving as the main group project for the duration of the class. Students will continue to follow the original syllabus for the class (whether it be Sports Psychology, International Development, Sport in Society, etc.) in addition to the provided material pertaining to refugees.


We propose that the toolkit be comprised of an overall introduction and considerations section, a budget for the cost of implementation, a fundraising plan to reach the targeted budget, a monitoring and evaluation plan for tracking program success and impact, and an assessment of potential barriers and constraints. The toolkit will also include a number of thematic modules, each focusing on a particular aspect of sports programs for refugees. Tools created within this project will need to be applicable across multiple locations with diverse populations in varying situations and contexts. Each thematic area should be formatted with an introduction, implementation guidelines, monitoring and evaluation techniques, and fundraising sections. We suggest that each class cover as many modules as possible by dividing into groups and assigning a thematic chapter for each group to develop; this will provide for a large sample from which to draw as we develop the final project. The modules may be selected from the following themes (but are certainly not limited to the following list), to be agreed upon following feedback from participating universities to UNHCR:


  • Physical education

Teachers in refugee camps do not have access to curricula for physical education. Physical education programs in schools reach large numbers of refugee children and help to develop their motor skills, cognitive abilities, physical fitness and health.


  • Play (TBD if incorporated as an aspect within every module, or as its own module)

Play encompasses a broader definition of recreational activities and reaches youth beyond those that are athletically talented. Play activities involving arts, theatre, music, crafts and other culturally relevant activities offer a means for young people to be creative and perform off of the sports field.


  • Disabilities

This module would ensure that sport programs are sufficiently modified so that refugees with disabilities have access to sport and recreation activities. Participating in sport can serve as a point of entry for social inclusion for people with disabilities and improves self-confidence, health, and mental well-being.


  • Girls and gender

Girls face many obstacles due to accepted cultural or gender norms and roles such as being kept out of school, having to care for the family or being victims of sexual and gender based violence. Sport provides an opportunity for girls to explore their potential, demonstrate leadership capabilities within their communities, and integrate into society.


  • Organization and administration (TBD if included in overall introduction, given own module, or included as subsection of every module) 

This module would focus on the organizational and administrative structure of sports programs for refugees, with a focus on attaining sustainability and a sense of local ownership of the program.


  • Urban refugees

The plight of urban refugees (who comprise more than half of the world’s refugees) poses a complicated situation; living in cities, it is difficult for them to receive services and are therefore often vulnerable to exploitation. Providing guidelines for sport programs for urban refugees would benefit millions of often-forgotten displaced youth.


  • Emergency

In emergencies, having immediate access to sports programs offers a sense of normalcy and structure in an otherwise chaotic environment. This module would help practitioners implement sports programs with very few resources in the midst of a traumatic displacement.


  • Health and education

Sport programs naturally bring people together and attract large numbers of youth to one location. Sport can thus serve as a platform from which to disseminate health and educational messages to the community and stage health interventions (i.e. vaccination campaigns HIV/AIDS information etc).


  • Coexistence and trauma reduction

Refugees often face tense and hostile environments, whether it be from unreceptive host communities or from within refugee camps where diverse populations frequently clash. Sport can mitigate conflict by encouraging coexistence, working as a team, and sharing a common passion. Sport also contributes to the psychosocial rehabilitation of youth in post-traumatic situations.


We encourage collaboration at all levels throughout this project, including teamwork within each class and universities interacting with one another as they develop guidelines for sports programs for refugees. UNHCR will create and manage a website that will serve as a platform for collaboration and discussion among student participants across the world. The website will also house resources for the project and allow students to track their progress. Another possibility is to have participating faculty work together to develop a comprehensive curriculum prior to the start of this program.


There will be intermittent deadlines for stages of the project, including an initial draft of each university’s toolkit manuscript that UNHCR will review and provide feedback upon. Potential rewards for on-time submission (i.e. UNHCR paraphernalia) may be possible. Once completed, each final product will be reviewed by a panel of judges comprised of UNHCR staff, non-participating university faculty, sports celebrities, and sport for development experts. Depending on the quality of the toolkits received, it remains to be decided whether the panel will select an overall toolkit or the best of each thematic module. Authors will be given due credit if their work is published in the final toolkit, and all paticipants (universities, professors and students) will be mentioned for their contribution to the project. The tools each team creates will become the property of UNHCR. The final toolkit will be available for anyone to access online.


This project also includes a field component in which a select number of participating students and faculty will be given the opportunity to test their toolkit in a refugee camp. The methodology for selecting students and the location, length of time and further details of the field component remain to be decided.


In conclusion, the final outcome of this project will include:

  • A comprehensive toolkit, including modules on specific aspects of sports for refugees
  • Budget of the cost to implement the tool in refugee camps/settlements/urban areas
  • Fundraising plan to reach the targeted budget
  • A monitoring/evaluation plan for tracking the success of a tool and its impact on the lives of refugees
  • An assessment of potential barriers and constraints



UNHCR is seeking to engage university students in developing sport toolkits for refugees for multiple reasons. First, universities are centers for innovative thought, learning, and research in best practices. Students are deeply engaged in these issues as they study theory, refugee issues, sport implementation strategies, and more. Reaching out to university departments with knowledge of sports and international development will offer viable and practical results; there could be no better environment for creative ideas for increased inclusion of refugee children and youth in educational and sports programs. Secondly, as most students have not yet gained field experience, they offer invaluable fresh perspectives and ideas for innovative solutions. Finally, accessing students at this period of their lives allows UNHCR to promote the cause of refugees as students begin to form visions for their own futures and learn about the world.  This project will give students the opportunity to be involved in a practical and academic publication as well as to gain field experience.




Project Objectives




Objective 1: Creation of toolkit for sport programs for refugees targeting grassroots-level implementation


Desired Output: A published toolkit addressing the strategic implementation of sports programs for refugees that can be modified for different ages/cultures/settings. The toolkit should be geared toward consumption by grassroots-level implementers and field practitioners (i.e. coaches in refugee community, UNHCR staff, local NGOs; NOT for established sport for development organizations). The final product will be made available for public use on the UNHCR website.



Activities to Achieve Objective:


  • Collaboration and interaction between university students and UNHCR
    • Educational website created and maintained by UNHCR
    • Regular teleconferences/communication between students and UNHCR staff
    • Group work within university courses
  • Curriculum development
    • Provision of case studies, resources, and other materials to participants
    • Collaboration between UNHCR and among university professors to decide upon materials
  • Comprehensive toolkit creation
    • Development of project annexes such as budgets and fundraising proposals


The creation of a user-friendly toolkit for the implementation of sports programs is the primary objective of this project. Please note that there are many factors that will impact the implementation and outcome of this objective.


Objective 2: Engage universities to spread awareness about refugees and promote UNHCR’s visibility


Desired Output: Create advocates and agents for change in the area of sport for development for refugees, as well as to promote awareness about UNHCR.


Activities to Achieve Objective:


  • Disseminate UNHCR products (i.e. potential rewards throughout the duration of the project such as UNHCR stickers, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Increased visibility of UNHCR on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Educate and engage students in sport for development and refugee issues


Objective 3: Fundraising (Optional)


Desired Output: Raise funds for refugee causes to provide students with an opportunity to understand the real-life challenges of obtaining funding for sports programs.


Activities to Achieve Objective:


  • Students submit a fundraising proposal to UNHCR for approval
  • Students raise funds for refugees on their campuses and in their communities


As stated above, this third objective of fundraising is completely optional and an additional component to the program. It would provide students the opportunity to experience fundraising in an international organization, in addition to providing additional resources for refugees.



 Responsibilities & Budget and Financial Management


The creation and implementation of this project requires commitments for all parties involved:


  • Curriculum Development: responsibility of universities with UNHCR input
  • Field Component: responsibility of UNHCR and its corporate partners (optional: possible fundraising support from students)
  • Tool Production and Printing: UNHCR
  • Implementation: UNHCR
  • Curriculum Resource Provision and Website Maintenance: UNHCR


Please note that UNHCR will approach its partners to support the funding of this project. However, additional costs may be incurred as the contest progresses (i.e. students working in the field will be responsible for their own insurance, etc.).  



Project Timeline


The following is the proposed timeline for the project:


Nov – Dec 2010

Jan – May 2011

May – July 2011

July – Aug 2011

Nov – Dec 2011

January 2012

Planning and Preparation Phase


UNHCR prepares and sends case studies, course support material, communicates with universities


Universities plan course structure, incorporate project into existing class



Class Implementation Phase


Project begins


University students create toolkits for sport programs for refugees




Review Phase




Panel reviews each university’s final toolkit, decides on best product


Students are selected to participate in field component of project



Field Testing Phase



Select number of students travel to a refugee camp to test/evaluate the effectiveness of their toolkits



Finalizing Phase



Modifications are made to final toolkit before publishing


Printing of toolkit

Published Phase



Toolkit ready to be made available





UNHCR intends to continue into a second phase of this project into 2012. As the time approaches, we will redevelop and modify the concept proposal to fit the future needs of this project.

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