UNODC promotes sports as tool for peace on Kyrgyz-Tajik border

UNCT-KYG-UNODC-Kolundu

KULUNDU, 20 September, 2017 -   Kulundu is a municipality in the southern Batken province of Kyrgyzstan on the border with Tajikistan. The people living in this remote, rural area - over 25,000 in total - mostly earn their living by engaging in agriculture and cross-border trade.  Labour migration to Russia and other countries is common and remittances are an important source of income for the community.

Life in Kulundu is affected by a range of challenges. Conflicts over access to drinking and irrigation water and grazing pastures for cattle are a problem. Inter-ethnic tension has at times occurred both between different ethnic groups within the community and across the border. Citizens of Kulundu have also expressed concern at the risk of radicalization that could lead to violence among the population.

“Since 2014 UNODC has been engaged in Kulundu and other communities around the country to strengthen community policing and facilitate social partnerships to promote crime prevention and public safety”, said Koen Marquering, UNODC International Coordinator at the opening ceremony of a new football field in Kulundu today. “The opening of the new pitch here in Kulundu shows how community engagement in crime prevention can produce real benefits for the local population”, he added.

The new football field was constructed as part of the implementation of a local crime prevention plan, which was developed by the local community in 2016 based on active participation of local authorities, police, the local crime prevention centre and civil society. The crime prevention plan led to new investment from the local budget and by external donors of 5 million KGS (or over 70,000 USD).

One of the initiators of this effort was Nurali Paziev, Head of the Youth Centre and also a Member of the local Council in the municipality. “Sports can play a key role in educating youth and keeping them away from crime and violence”, noted Paziev. “With these improved facilities, we hope to use sports to promote tolerance and respect and empower youth in our community”, he added.   

Based on various outreach initiatives, including a marathon, the Youth Centre in Kulundu, in partnership with local authorities, managed to attract funding for the football field, which is worth over 2 million KGS (approximately 30,000 USD). UNODC contributed 10,000USD and also provided the Youth Centre with balls, shirts and other sports items. A football tournament involving police officers, youth and others from various local villages, including from neighbouring Tajikistan, was held on the day of the opening.    

Within the framework of the local crime prevention plan, UNODC has also supported the construction of a new police station in Kulundu (with a value of nearly 100,000 USD). In Maksat, a small village close to Kulundu, the local community joined forces to fund the construction of a new police point, thus further strengthening police presence in the area. Crime prevention remains on the agenda of the local authorities with an updated local crime prevention plan adopted this year. Thanks to a small grant of 3,000 USD provided by UNODC to the Youth Centre a range of dialogue platforms, information campaigns, radio transmissions and sports events are foreseen to build trust and increased legal awareness in the community. 

UNODC will continue to promote community policing and crime prevention through its 2015-2019 Programme for Central Asia with generous funding provided by the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). In addition, UNODC has recently launched a global youth crime prevention initiative that builds on the power of sports as a tool for peace.  As showcased in Kulundu, this initiative focuses on sports to build resilience of youth by enhancing their life skills and increasing their knowledge of the consequences of crime and drug use. A new sports-based life skills training curriculum – Line Up Live Up – is currently being tested in Brazil and South Africa before being piloted in other regions, including in Kyrgyzstan.

Additional information:

UNODC in Central Asia

UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2015-2019

Doha Declaration Global Programme

Sports against youth crime

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For additional information please contact Vasilina Brazhko (Ms.),

Communication/ PR Officer, UNODC ROCA

Tel.: +996 775 98 78 17, email: vasilina.brazhko@unodc.org