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Understanding the Role of Sport for Development in Community Capacity Building in a Refugee Camp in Tanzania



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In the past decade a rapid increase has been seen in the number of organizations using sport as a development tool in majority world communities. Specifically, Sport for Development programs have been promoted as a means to promote peace, a forum for social mobilization efforts and health initiatives, and a tool for sustainable community development (SDP IWG, 2008; UNIATF, 2003). Often, a fundamental goal of such programs is community capacity building. However, despite this increase in attention, data regarding benefits of these programs remains anecdotal, without a strong body of reliable evidence on the impact of Sport for Development programs on community capacity building. Informed by this context, the purpose of this study was to understand the effectiveness of a Sport for Development program in community capacity building in a refugee camp in Tanzania. The research was accomplished using a qualitative case study approach with 12 key stakeholders involved in the program. The principal method of data collection was a participatory workshop methodology using Laverack’s (1999) nine domains to assess community capacity. This qualitative workshop methodology also employed a quantitative tool vis-à-vis Laverack’s nine domains which acted as a participatory guide to evaluate the level of community capacity in the program. An initial workshop held with key stakeholders assessed current status, which was followed by the development and implementation of strategic plans for action by stakeholders based on the workshop assessment. A second workshop was held one year later to re-assess community capacity. Additional methods of data collection included individual interviews, observations, and field notes. Member checking, a prolonged time in the field, and triangulation were the primary procedures for verifying the accuracy of the findings. The results showed that community capacity was increased in eight of the nine domains. Specifically, these eight were community participation, local leadership, organizational structures, problem assessment capacities, resource mobilization, ability to ‘ask why’, role of outside agents, and program management. The findings from this study demonstrate that a Sport for Development program can be effective in increasing community capacity; this was attributed to the specific participatory methodology used to assess community capacity, structural changes in the program, and a change in approach to programming by project coordinators.



Sport for Development, community capacity building, cross-cultural research



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


College of Kinesiology


College of Kinesiology


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