A community dialogue on migration.
Photos: HELVETAS Benin
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The prospects that mobility offers for rural local development are often underestimated. Authorities demonstrate limited capacities for addressing the topic and supporting migrants in their socio-economic integration. Our authors look at regional mobility in the context of West Africa and give an account of a pilot project in Northern Benin examining approaches to fostering better linkages between migration and rural development.

While most public and political attention today focus on South-North migration and on the flows of migrants seeking to join Europe, this should not eclipse the fact that close to 90 per cent of all movements in West Africa remain within the region, with a strong tendency for short movements to neighbouring countries, as publications issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirm. This ‘other side’ of West African migration is both a well-established and constitutive feature of the region, reminding us that international borders only improperly reflect the constantly evolving dynamics structuring this geographic space.

Regional dynamics and the ECOWAS

Migration constitutes a livelihood strategy and an option to diversify and mitigate risks for numerous households in West Africa. Motivations for migration often reflect a combination of economic, political, social and, increasingly, environmental arguments. It is also often perceived as a learning process and is thus socially valued. Trajectories of mobility in West Arica are numerous and are frequently influenced by socio-ethnic ties and networks.

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