With a population of 2 million, The Gambia is one of Africa's smallest countries. Despite its size, migration plays a significant role in Gambian society. Overseas remittances of an estimated 90,000 Gambians living abroad account for over 20 per cent of the country's GDP, while rural-to-urban migration has led to increasing urbanization. In recent years, the pursuit for socioeconomic advancement—especially among the youth—has driven many to undertake irregular migration with the aim of reaching Europe. Over 8,498 Gambians arrived in Europe in 2017, with many others in Africa along the Central Mediterranean Route now opting for voluntary return.
Having established an operational presence in 2001, IOM The Gambia officially became a country office in July 2017 and implements an extensive range of programs. It works closely with the Government of The Gambia to strengthen migration governance through national coordination frameworks and evidence-based policy design, particularly through research and collection and analysis of data to inform policymaking. IOM has also provided technical assistance to the Government in developing its first national migration policy. Operationally, IOM facilitates the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants, placing a particular emphasis on the protection of vulnerable migrants. Between January 2017 and October 2018, more than 3,700 Gambian returnees have been assisted. IOM also works with local partners to raise awareness among potential migrants about risks of and alternatives to irregular migration and promotes diaspora engagement to contribute to economic development through knowledge and skills transfer. As a whole, IOM supports the Government of The Gambia and national and local partners to build their capacities to protect migrants, promote their rights and better manage migration.
EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration: The Gambia
The Joint Initiative aims to contribute to strengthening the governance of migration and the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants in The Gambia.
- Building the capacities of government and local stakeholders on migration governance, sustainable reintegration of returning migrants and ownership of reintegration activities at the national level;
- Protecting vulnerable migrants;
- Providing reintegration assistance to returning Gambians;
- Conducting awareness raising and sensitization activities targeting the general public on the risks of and the alternatives to irregular migration;
- Collecting and analyzing data on migration.
Donor : EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa
Africa Regional Migration Program
A regional project implemented in West and Central Africa, the project aims to build the capacities of state and nonstate actors to provide assistance to vulnerable migrants. In The Gambia, its two primary components include providing tailor-made trainings to national governments and civil society organizations to ensure coordinated responses; and providing direct assistance to vulnerable migrants and victims of trafficking in the region.
Donor : The United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)
Enhancing collective capacity for managing borders and for protecting border communities: The Gambia and Senegal
The project facilitates cooperation between the Governments of The Gambia and Senegal to work jointly to address security challenges along their common borders. The project’s aim is to limit the expansion of transnational criminal networks that often control and benefit from the irregular movements of persons, weapons, drugs and other criminal activities through unofficial migratory routes.
It will also contribute to the efforts by the Governments of The Gambia and Senegal to combat terrorism—by strengthening border security, addressing challenges related to organized transnational crime and improving migration management.
Donor : The Government of Japan
Safety, Support and Solutions in the Central Mediterranean Route
The project aims to enhance the capacities of government officials, civil society organizations and nongovernment organizations for migrant protection and the development of livelihood and income generation alternatives. Through research and data analysis, it aims to create an evidence base on the impact of livelihoods and income generation on the intention to migrate irregularly. In enhancing the collective understanding of the drivers of migration, communities will be empowered to identify and design livelihood solutions that can serve as effective alternatives for the youth.
Donor : The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
Bridging together youth, diaspora and local authorities for an integrated approach to promote employment and address irregular migration in The Gambia, Guinea Conakry and Guinea Bissau
The overall project objective is to promote safe migration and create alternatives to the irregular migration of youth by fostering employment in communities of origin.
Its three essential components include:
- Equipping national and local authorities with knowledge and tools on how best to account for migration in local development plans;
- Empowering youth in origin communities to achieve their livelihood expectations and aspirations, while promoting their access to viable jobs locally and abroad;
Facilitating diaspora engagement to contribute to youth empowerment and promoting local alternatives to irregular migration through skills transfers programmes.
Donor : The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS)
United Kingdom Pre-Departure Tuberculosis Detection Programme (UKTB)
The programme provides migration support service to the United Kingdom through pre-departure tuberculosis screening. In coordination with a local health clinic, the programme screens all visa applicants intending to stay in the United Kingdom for six months or longer. All cases diagnosed with active tuberculosis are referred to the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) for treatment and monitoring.
In addition, to facilitate family reunification, the programme also conducts anti-fraud measures—such as DNA testing and bio-sampling—at the request of the United Kingdom Government. The programme also works in partnership with The Gambia’s national health system to build national and local capacities in migration health management.