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Environmental Migration, Disaster Displacement, and Planned Relocation in West Africa

By Christina Daszkiewicz

West Africa has a long history of human mobility. While the majority of current human mobility in the region is motivated by economic drivers, other drivers intervene such as conflict or disasters, climate change and environmental degradation. Over the last decades, the sub-region has been facing floods and droughts with regularity. Coastal erosion, land degradation and water scarcity are among the biggest environmental trends affecting the sixteen countries. 

The West African region has a high number of Least Developed Countries (LDCs); only four of the sixteen States in West Africa are not considered to be LDCs. Three States are also Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and two are part of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Some States in the region are also among the States most vulnerable to climate change. The 2011-2020 Programme of Action for LDCs, the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs, and the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway acknowledge the vulnerability of these States to the adverse effects of climate change.

This report details the findings from a desk review and aims to inform policymakers and decision makers as well as practitioners from the local to the global level about the interplay between migration, displacement, planned relocation and disasters, climate change and environmental degradation in West Africa and the policy frameworks to address it. As such, the paper provides an overview of human mobility in West Africa in the context of disasters, the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation. It then presents policy horizons, including relevant global, regional and sub-regional policies. Finally, the paper concludes with recommendations to address human mobility in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation in West Africa.

This desk review is part of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) project “Implementing global policies on environmental migration and disaster displacement in West Africa”. IOM is implementing the project together with the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and with the generous support of the Government of the French Republic. This report was prepared by Christina Daszkiewicz, consultant with IOM, under the supervision of the Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Division of IOM and in partnership with the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD).

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