[Disponible en Français]
Yvonne Diallo-Sahli, SDC Migration Network, Focal Point, SDC Bern
During a regional workshop on Migration and Development in West Africa held 1 – 4 June 2015, over 50 participants engaged in fruitful discussions on key themes of migration and development, including integrating mobility and migration into development planning and interventions (and development aspects into migration policies), the protection of migrant workers’ rights and patterns related to the linkages between West Africa and North Africa. Additionally, insights into the specific types of mobility in the region were shared and built upon. The diversity of stakeholders was one of the main contributing factors to rich discussions; it was recognized that all play an important role in supporting migration and development in the region and beyond: participants included colleagues from government institutions in Benin, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, civil society, research, international and UN organizations and SDC Benin, Niger, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Bangladesh, Benin and Switzerland, as well as the Swiss Secretariat for Migration.
As one of the key conclusion - in line with the proverb ‘la poussière des pieds vaut plus que la poussière des fesses (1) - it was recognized that the majority of people from West Africa migrates within the region where mobility is a key feature of livelihoods, and only a minority travel outside the region to North Africa, the Middle East and Europe – despite high international media attention on the dramatic events affecting migrants in the Mediterranean. As such, this reveals that when talking about mobility, context specific aspects need to be taken into account including the aspect of transhumance of pastoralists in the region, mobility related to informal markets, mobility patterns related to children (revealing particular vulnerability), and regional free movement in the context of ECOWAS etc. Furthermore, while mobility in the region is most commonly known for the search of economic opportunities, other factors including socio-cultural, health related etc. also play a leading role.
Exchanging with practitioners from the different regions was crucial to identify general issues and context specific aspects at the same time. Listening to the lessons from colleagues based in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa on the decent work agenda generated possible entry points to exchange on labour migration issues that also affect the West Africa region in the spirit of learning from each other’s experiences.
Linking global dialogue with regional, national and local efforts and realities is key, as local experiences contribute to the understanding of the issues to inform policy makers. Policies in turn will have an impact on the different levels.
Outcomes from this workshop will contribute to the strengthening of this network of professionals, enhance linkages between global, regional, national and local levels and is expected to be useful for additional linkages between sectors of development with the mobility perspective (education and mobility in the context of transhumance and beyond etc.).
Over the coming three months, this website will feature articles on West Africa and emerging themes from the workshop, starting with the next Migration Network Newsletter dedicated to this region.
(1) Proverbe Dendi-Zerma