Nike staff visited Kenya’s Kakuma camp in late January 2003 to produce a short film documenting the donation of sports clothing and equipment to the UN refugee agency. Nike and UNHCR agreed that this generous gift of T-shirts, shorts, shoes, socks and balls would benefit the refugee populations in both Kakuma and Dadaab camps in Kenya.
The Nike staff and film crew were taken on an extensive tour of sports activities at Kakuma, one of the most developed sports programmes in UNHCR camps worldwide. They witnessed a netball game, a volleyball game, a soccer match and wheelchair basketball played by Sudanese landmine victims. Several of the matches were played between refugee team and local community teams.
Sports is used in Kakuma to foster good relations between different ethnic groups of refugees and locals living in this remote area of the country. Natural resources here are scarce and without sports, tensions can easily arise.
The sports programme began in 1992 when Kakuma camp was set up. The camp population was very young, with a large number of former child soldiers from Sudan – the now famous “Lost Boys”. With the arrival of other nationalities and ethnic groups, it was critical to ensure positive outlets for potential conflict and to overcome idleness.
Today, the programme runs in 11 zones in Kakuma, thanks to the dedication of a small number of staff from the Lutheran World Federation, Right to Play and most importantly, the refugee community itself. The refugees form zonal sports councils and appoint a zonal supervisor. These councils decide on the organisation of activities, team recruitment and schedules.