Development Frontiers in Low Income Countries: The Role of Youth, Sport and Cultural Interventions

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Sch of Sport Exercise & Health Sciences


This project investigates the role of sport, cultural and educational programmes in promoting sustainable development among young people in low-income countries (LICs), specifically to tackle poverty, conflict in fragile states, environmental sustainability, and gender inequality. These programmes are usually implemented by non-governmental organizations with support from other agencies.
We have little unified knowledge from across different LICs, of how these programmes are implemented, and how they are experienced and interpreted by young user groups.
This project seeks to fill these knowledge gaps, and thus has three broad aims: i) to enhance knowledge of these programmes with young people in LICs; ii) to improve programme efficacy in policy and practice; iii) to work with key stakeholders, to support these interventions, to secure social change.
These aims translate into four research objectives:
1. To analyse the specific role of sport, cultural and educational interventions in tackling poverty, conflict in fragile states, environmental sustainability, and gender divisions in LICs.
2. To capture the experiences and perspectives of young people on these programmes.
3. To evaluate comparatively how these programmes are developed, implemented, experienced and interpreted.
4. To identify how programmes may be changed to have stronger benefits for young people.
Comparative research will be conducted in three small nations: Cape Verde, Nepal and Timor Leste. Data will be collected mainly through qualitative methods, including the innovative use of 'participatory action research' (PAR) to capture the voices of young people. We shall work closely with our research liaison group of non-academic and academic partners to deliver strong research impacts.
The project is strongly interdisciplinary; will be undertaken by a UK Principal Investigator, three Co-Investigators (from UK, Nepal, US), and a Research Associate (UK); and, will have a duration of 18 months.

Planned Impact

The project will have the following key beneficiaries and impacts:
1: Young people (user groups, local volunteers and officials on these programmes) and wider communities in our research locations. The research will enhance how they understand, organise, implement, experience, and benefit (through much stronger voice) from these programmes.
2: Governmental bodies, NGOs and other stakeholders including our research liaison group members. Our findings will enable these stakeholders to improve how they plan, implement and evaluate interventions. We shall advance practical findings on how, for example, they may respond more fully to young people's needs and perspectives, environmental sustainability issues, and sharing best practices.
3: Policy-makers, journalists, commentators, and citizens with interests in wider development issues in the global South. We shall enable these groups to more fully understand, engage with, and contribute to development issues, by widely disseminating our findings.
4: Academics, students and educational officials in our research locations. We shall enhance the research, teaching and enterprise capabilities of these groups, through our collaborations, guest lectures, and meetings.
Impact will be strongly assisted by our hosting start-of-research seminars in our study locations and a stakeholder workshop.
Our broad impacts are:
- Instrumental, in influencing: the policies and practices of NGOs and other stakeholders; and, behaviour across development stakeholders in LICs.
- Conceptual, in contributing to policy, and public and academic debates, on the role of sport, cultural and educational activities for tackling poverty, conflict, environmental sustainability, and gender divisions.
- Capacity building, in improving the skills and capabilities of: NGO officials and volunteers, young programme user groups and local communities, who will benefit from stronger programmes; and, academics and other education-sector stakeholders.


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Description To summarise, four key points may be highlighted:
1. The research was broadly in the area of 'sport for development and peace' (SDP), where sport is used as a tool for social intervention to promote different types of social development among young people, specifically relating to poverty reduction, gender equality, and tackling state fragility and environmental challenges. The research found that the impacts of SDP programmes are strengthened significantly when, in addition to sport, they utilise a wider variety of physical and cultural activities, such as dance, music, art, and outdoor life activities. This broader approach is particularly effective when local cultural forms and practices are promoted e.g. batuku music and dance in Cape Verde. We are developing and applying the concept of 'kinaesthetic cultures' to facilitate the further study of this broader approach, and to assess its utility to the field of development studies and practice.
2. The research facilitated the development of several types of new networks. We organised workshops in each research location, and in the UK, which brought together key stakeholders across and beyond the SDP sector for the first time. We were particularly focused on engaging and giving voice and agency to young people at these events, and to sharing the outcomes of the Participatory Action Research which we undertook. The seminars also provided the space for local young SDP officials and volunteers to develop their own grassroots networks and activities. We also enabled international networks to be built, particularly between local SDP agencies and international organizations, and between academics and students in our study nations and transnationally.
3. The project highlighted the importance of innovative, grassroots-based, and locally attuned strategies being used by community-level NGOs (non-governmental organizations), to identify and to tackle specific social problems and development challenges. This approach included, for example: generating their own educational philosophies (centred on holistic learning, creativity and empathy towards young people) to underpin their development work; promoting gender equality and women's empowerment through context specific work and training; and, developing employment and training opportunities that connected to local needs, industries and services (e.g. plastic recycling, bicycle repair, mountain guiding).
4. The project also highlighted the need for the SDP sector (notably NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, and other donors) to increase its work in several fields. Youth programme leaders and volunteers demonstrated that the sector needs to focus more on environmental issues, which are central to many of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in relation to policy, education and social intervention strategies. Our research locations faced some acute environmental challenges, relating particularly to sustainable tourism, pollution, and the impacts of climate change. The SDP sector needs to become more coordinated, especially at national level, and to build closer, mutually beneficial ties with other sectors, such as the sport and wider development sectors. The sector faces the challenge of taking impactful intervention strategies at community level, and scaling these up for implementation at national and international levels, in ways that are sensitive to local context.
Exploitation Route Our research activities and outcomes may be taken forward in several ways.
1. SDP NGOs and other organizations should utilize, in addition to sport, a wide array of physical and cultural activities to engage young people in development programmes. These programmes should look to utilize local cultural forms and practices in this work; and, to engage the voices and inputs of young people in planning and implementation.
2. SDP NGOs and other organizations should continue to use grassroots-based strategies for tackling development challenges. National and international donors in the SDP sector should provide community-based NGOs with the opportunity to generate these innovative intervention strategies, and new educational approaches, in order to best identify and meet grassroots development needs.
3. Further network building should continue, particularly at national and international levels, across different SDP organizations. This should advance the coordination and impacts of SDP activities; amplify young people's voices within the sector; and, encourage local and national government to develop SDP policies or action plans.
4. SDP organizations should significantly increase their focus on: environmental education and interventions; enhancing connections and collaborations with the sport and development sectors; and, scaling up impactful local strategies in ways that are sensitive to cultural contexts.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy

Description Research findings have led to further collaboration and participation activities with key project user groups. These activities include: - Working closely with the Special Adviser to the President of Cape Verde, to plan and implement a major International Youth Conference on: "Democracy, Migration and Employment: Young people's commitment to a democratic, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Africa", to be staged in Sal, Cape Verde, 27-29 March 2020 - Running workshops with marginalised girls and women for NGOs in Nepal. Workshops focused on developing leadership and motivation skills, promoting physical activity, combating gender-based violence and promoting women's empowerment. This also included some mentoring work - Follow-up research and dialogue with NBA Players Academy in Senegal, on the basis of the research project - Regular contact and advise to young people and organisational stakeholders (especially NGO and governmental officials) in Cape Verde, East Timor and Nepal.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services