Since February 2013, Diffa region (in south-eastern Niger) is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis because of the violence caused by the Islamic sect of Boko Haram. Boko Haram’s violent attacks drove to a mass migration and to shocks that still affect the populations. Amongst the consequences: the negative influence on children and young communities’ life.
In fact, there are many cases of not-accompanied and separated children that are evacuated. The abrupt and unplanned change of the life environment represents for children and young people the sudden loss of their “normality”. Since December 2013, with UNICEF’s support COOPI is carrying out activities of monitoring and psychosocial support by the provision of specific itinerant devices, commonly known as DIAP (Dispositif Itinérant d’Appui Psychosociale). These devices offer especially to children and adolescents a safe context for listening, meeting and sharing.
Sportive activities play a fundamental role in the DIAP. They are a perfect way to involve young people and to make them break the ice towards COOPI’s collaborators: it is the first step to guarantee an efficient psychosocial help.
Football, basketball, volleyball, athletics and Frisbee are the currently-practiced sports. COOPI offers training courses and provides didactic material to its psychosocial agents to implement the sportive activities. Moreover, it provides the appropriate sportive equipment and develops infrastructures in 59 reception centres.
Sport lays the foundations for the creation of contacts among volunteers and beneficiaries, who develop special interpersonal relations within the DIAP. It creates a perfect framework for dialogue, listening and sharing among the young people, far away from their everyday anguish and stress.
These healthy and positive activities – which are based on the transmission of positive values (respect, solidarity, fair play…) and on the unifying power of the sport – are used as an informal educational instrument. They are aimed to strengthen the social relationships, to facilitate everyone’s integration within the community and to identify the specific needs of psychosocial assistance.
Sport is a transversal component and an indispensable action for the psychosocial support provided by COOPI in Diffa region.
It lays the foundations for a good collaboration with the beneficiaries, by maximizing the protective factors, reducing the risk factors and working to go back to the emotional, psychological and social “normality” (resilience).