Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sport for Development and Sustainability

I wrote about sustainability and sport for development a while back, but a recent article published in Third World Quarterly has made me want to write another post.

The focus of the article by Donnelly et al is not sustainability. The article is actually advocating for a public sociology in sport for development that would allow for a stronger connection between researchers and practitioners. However, within the article there is reference to a study involving SDP organizations and sustainability.

The referenced study defines sustainability as "the ability of a program to survive, or for changes to remain once the catalyst [ie the SDP initiative] is removed." In addition, the idea that NGOs should be aiming to make themselves redundant - put themselves out of business - is put forward.

It used a seven point framework for assessing sustainability including: evaluation, funding, goals, social integration, volunteers, volunteer training, and exit strategies. The researcher compared 40 different SDP organizations, using project websites for the analysis. Based on how the organizations represented themselves, only four out of 40 received satisfactory scores. The overall worst category was for exit strategies.

The study is limited as it only considers websites, but I believe it raises some interesting points about sustainability. Is it possible to assess a variety of SDP organizations with only one definition of sustainability and one framework? For example, the definition of sustainability and the framework used seems to view SDP as wholly externally driven. How would locally developed and implemented projects like MYSA or EduSport fare under this framework?

Are exit strategies necessary and can an emphasis on exit strategy limit how projects are planned and developed? It seems that the framework and definition point to a fairly linear conception of development initiatives.

Another interesting point in the article is the role of the state. Donnelly states that "ideally, because SDP interventions involve issues such as health and education, which are usually considered to be within the purview of the state and available to all citizens, sustainability will be ensured by the state." I wonder how this would be viewed by organizations that started initiatives because of deficiencies with the state.

With more organizations adopting social enterprise as a component to sustainability (Alive and Kicking, I am also wondering how this would be addressed in the seven point sustainability framework. Would Alive and Kicking be viewed negatively because they don't have an explicit or typical 'exit strategy'?

July 28, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Hey Shawn,

    I am looking into graduate programs for this coming fall, and I am also very interested in SDP. However, I'm having a hard time finding out what programs would be a good fit to learn more about SDP, and would prepare me to possibly work as a SDP program evaluator someday. Could you give me any pointers? Feel free to shoot me an email at: