UN Moves Against Irregular Migration, Empowers Edo Youths

By Akanimo Sampson

Together with community members from Oredo and Ikpoba Okha, in Edo State, and Matoto, in Conakry, Guinea, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency, with support from local authorities, has launched WAKA by IOM X campaigns. In Pidgin English, waka means move.  

The campaigns aim at preventing exploitation associated with irregular migration by empowering young people in Matoto, Guinea and in Oredo and Ikpoba Okha, Nigeria to make informed migration-related decisions.  

Community-led videos encouraging youth to make informed decisions about their future, whether it be at home or abroad, have been produced as part of the campaigns.  The videos were created as a result of participatory workshops that brought together more than 55 community members from Oredo, Ikpoba Okha and Matoto between August and December of this year.  

In Guinea, in a series of seven videos that challenge the traditional definition of success, being rich – entrepreneurs recount their experience and challenges they faced in setting up their successful businesses.  

In Nigeria, Check Am Well, a ten-minute docu-drama, tells the stories of two young people, Esosa and Osahon. Through their different experiences, including a migration journey, encountering returned migrants, and talking with other community members, they both come to the conclusion that safe migration is the best option, and for those that don’t want to follow that route, that there are opportunities at home.  

Head of the Awareness Raising unit at IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Mia Barrett, said “the aim of the community members who designed the WAKA multimedia content is to ensure that the videos are relevant and impactful for young people from these communities, and that this information will help to protect them from exploitation that can result from misinformation.” 

An IOM report shows that more than one in three migrants assisted with voluntary return by IOM along the main migration routes is either Guinean or Nigerian. Oredo, Ikpoba Okha and Matoto are the main communities of origin of returned migrants in Nigeria and Guinea respectively.  

In West Africa, some families rely heavily on remittances sent from children and spouses, and therefore the pressure to migrate on behalf of the entire family can be significant. Irregular migration from Nigeria and Guinea is mainly directed towards Europe through North Africa, with almost exclusive use of the Central Mediterranean route. Violence, exploitation and other abuses are faced by irregular migrants along the route.  

A lack of access to accurate and trustworthy information (both online and in-person) on how to go abroad regularly and what are the available opportunities at home often lead young people to take risks by migrating irregularly.  

A study conducted by IOM in the targeted communities in Nigeria and Guinea in September 2019 revealed that 54 per cent (out of 699 respondents) aged between 13 and 40 have not heard or seen information on the dangers of irregular migration in the last year.  

Additionally, 61 per cent indicated that friends were their primary source for information about migration and 60 per cent said they generally got information about local opportunities through word-of-mouth. Over half of those surveyed said it was difficult to find accurate information about migration and local opportunities from trusted sources.  

The WAKA campaigns in Guinea and Nigeria were informed through participatory workshops with community members, pre-survey research and focus group discussions where drafts of the video content were tested with the target audiences. Research assessing the videos and the campaign, including post surveys, are currently being conducted, with results available in early 2020. 

WAKA by IOM X was produced together with community members and government representatives in Matoto, Guinea and Oredo and Ikpoba Okha in Nigeria, and supported by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.  

Visit to view the campaign.