Cash for Work Activities in Guinea Bissau, a First Step Towards the Sustainable Reintegration of Returned Migrants
Bissau - Environmental issues, including soil erosion, dramatically affect the local economy and development of communities, and is one of the push factors of internal and external migration in Guinea-Bissau, in West Africa.
Last month, 25 returned migrants and 15 community members participated in a reforestation activity in Gabu, in eastern Guinea-Bissau. Two hundred trees of five different species were planted in four days on over 13,000 square meters of the deforestation hit region, also known as one of the main migration-prone areas in the country.
The reforestation of Gabu region is part of cash for work activities, the first steps towards the sustainable reintegration for some of the 529 returned migrants, funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for migrant protection and reintegration.
“Cash for work benefits both returned migrants and communities, providing them with cash support during the transition period between their return and reintegration, while contributing to the development of their communities of return. These activities often facilitate in turn their social reinsertion”, explains Laura Amadori, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Guinea-Bissau.
By involving communities in the activities, potential tensions between returnees and local population are mitigated as the project is seen as benefitting to all. Since March 2019, 125 returned migrants and 76 community members have participated in sanitation and reforestation activities in Gabu. The returned migrants are part of the 529 Bissauans stranded in Niger and Libya assisted with voluntary return by IOM since May 2017.
Guinea-Bissau is a country of origin for many young people who are looking for better livelihood opportunities abroad. But it is also a country of destination and of transit of many migrants from West and Central Africa. According to the General Direction of regional Integration, there were more than 70,000 immigrants from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries residing in Guinea Bissau in 2018.
In December 2018, the Republic of Guinea-Bissau joined more than 150 UN Member States in signing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), the world’s first agreement for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level.
On 26 – 27 September 2019, IOM supported the Government of Guinea Bissau in the development of the country’s Global Compact for Migration Action Plan. One hundred and fifty-five government, civil society, development officials and academics participated in the two-day workshop event and reflected on the priorities of the GCM for Guinea-Bissau.
Implementing the GCM in Guinea-Bissau will contribute to improving the governance of migrations in Guinea-Bissau, both internal and external through negotiations with Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) states to facilitate the mobility of Guinea-Bissau citizens and the development of a national migration policy.