Migration in Africa in the context of climate change and terrorism

Voices from the South - June/July

In May 2017, participants from eight African countries gathered at a regional Churches Witnessing with Migrants (CWWM) consultation held in Nairobi, Kenya.   The consultation was arranged by the National Association of Women’s Organizations in Uganda-NAWOU and Council for Anglican Provinces in Africa-CAPA, and aimed to paint a factual picture of migration trends on the African continent.  Although Africans were popularly portrayed desperately fleeing the continent in droves, and dying in deserts and at sea trying to get to Europe, the actual fact is that there is more migration within the continent than out of it.  There are already regional solutions occurring to address the root causes of migration.    

In this month’s “Voices from the South,” we hear from Monica Emiru Enyou, Executive Director of NAWOU, about some of the solutions and alternatives that are already occurring on the African continent, and their plans for a platform for a coordinated response on migration and trafficking in the region.

Photo:  Participants of the the CWWM Africa consultaton held in Nairobi, Kenya in May 2017.  Credit:  NAWOU

By Monica Emiru Enyou, NAWOU

Migration on the  African continent is by and large not by choice but because of unfavourable push factors.  State funded terrorism and militarization of state institutions are recurring factors in destabilizing the continent and triggering migration.

This occurs in faux democracies where transitions in political leadership perpetually fail and governments employ radicalized mercenaries to entrench their positions in power for example ‘Crime Preventers’ in Uganda; ‘Imbonerakure’ in Burundi, ‘Mungiki Sect’ in Kenya- similar to the ‘Interahamwe’ used to orchestrate the 1994 genocide in the case of Rwanda. Political instability wrought by the State includes state orchestrated terror under the umbrella of counter terrorism responses and generalisation of Muslims as terrorists.

In addition, political instability and climate change crises fuel each other and lead to conflict and in turn migration. In states with unstable and ill-equipped political institutions, governments are unable to deal with the ongoing challenges exerted by floods or droughts. The famine and subsequent migration in South Sudan is one such example. Already affected by inclement weather patterns, leading to poor harvests and food insecurity, the problem has worsened because the state is not able to offer food relief. This issue has been exacerbated by the ongoing civil war as people are unable to farm, and the government’s deliberate cutting off food aid to rebel held territories, leading to mass exodus of refugees to Uganda.
Climate change related migrations have also been observed amongst pastoralist communities across the continent. Pastoralists in Kenya have made inroads into nature reserves like game parks to graze their animals, as they flee their usual grazing grounds because of drought leading to conflict with land owners and government, sometimes resulting in death.

How are we responding?

In response to the drivers identified, the region has developed solutions and responses albeit uncoordinated ones to this new face of migration. There are normative frameworks and responses developed by the Church and various specialized organizations. These responses range from movement building to specializing in stemming the causes; advocating against negative impact of migration and trafficking; developing tools for mitigating migration; analyzing the impact of climate change and its link to migration, as well as rescuing, counseling, reskilling and reintegrating survivors of migration.

The Church has been identified as a place and space for reintegrating returning migrants and survivors of trafficking; providing services to migrants while engaging regional as well as family networks on migration; training clergy to realise this as duty as part of teaching; building capacities of stakeholders from different religious traditions and cultures on migration and trafficking. The advocacy issues for the Church in Nigeria for example, include protection and response mechanisms; passing of regional regulations; advocating for regional advocacy plans and strategies and strengthening partnership around the regional legislation.

The continent also has women’s groups that create awareness and advocate for policies and women’s human rights. The Association of Uganda Women Lawyers-FIDA Uganda uses legal aid and advocacy to tackle issues of human trafficking. In addition, FIDA focuses on prevention and prosecution, and has held a number of stakeholder meetings for children trafficked to the capital from Karamoja.

The African Network Prevention and Protection of Children Against Neglect has developed a framework for responding to challenges of migration and specifically human trafficking called the 5-P Model: Prevention; Protection; Prosecution; Policy advocacy and Partnership. Using the model, the organization has given direct assistance to 900 children who are survivors of child trafficking or at risk of becoming victims.

Where do we go from here?

However, evidence based advocacy and sustained responses to migration are resource constrained. Most organizations and Churches are unable to conduct baselines against which to measure scope of migration or trafficking, and ascertain impact or progress of their interventions. They are not unable to sustain presence and engage national governments, nor are they well placed to do so in the major decisions and policy-making platforms in the region and global blocs.

As a way forward, the Nairobi consultation agreed to the following:

i.    to generate a communiqué to be shared at the international migration conference in June in Berlin and with the African Union.

ii.    to form a Platform for a coordinated response on migration and trafficking, prevention being priority.  The members will meet periodically, both physically and virtually to share what is being done for documentation.
iii.    A steering committee comprising representatives from Eastern Africa, Youth, Women, Western Africa, Southern Africa, Northern and Central Africa coordinated by CAPA as the Secretariat shall meet in Dakar Senegal to develop a detailed coordinated, strategic, structured and sustainably resourced regional response on migration. The National Labour Organisation will host that meeting.

A social scientist by training, Monica Emiru Enyou has been in development work for over 25 years addressing rights issues in programming, advocacy and legal reforms.  Monica has worked in various sectors on the rights of the vulnerable including children, women, persons living with HIV/AIDS and gender mainstreaming.  She is currently at the National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda, an umbrella organisation that works on governance and leadership, peace and security of women and girls and women’s economic justice.  NAWOU addresses the preventive aspects of migration by equipping women and girls with knowledge of rights as well as supporting them to establish sources of income, creating decent work for themselves.  Monica can be reached at

Posted by Karibu Foundation - Last updated 27.06.2017