Implementing Global Policies on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement in West Africa

Location: West Africa

Lead Agency: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Partners: Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UN-ECA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Bank

Donor: Government of France

Duration: 18 months

Project Summary

West Africa, as a region, has a long history of mobility and one of the highest rates of migration in the continent. This mobility can take different forms such as transhumance, seasonal migration, forced-displacement, rural and labour migration, among others. The drivers of migration are multiple and include intertwined social, economic, political, demographic, and environmental factors. But the current context of climate change and environmental degradation in West Africa has led to an increase in mobility. Indeed, slow and sudden-onset hazards such as droughts, desertification, deforestation, water scarcity, rising sea-level, coastal erosion and flooding have multiplied in occurrence and severity over the last few decades, leading many to be displaced. Therefore, a policy consensus on the links between migration, displacement, planned relocation, disasters, climate change and environmental degradation is relevant for the instauration of proper measures.

The International Organization for Migration together with the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD), and with the generous support of the French Government, have jointly developed this project. The aim of this project is to support policy development and policy coherence on environmental migration and disaster displacement in West Africa. The objective is to contribute to facilitating regular pathways for migration and to minimizing displacement in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation in West Africa in line with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) Objectives 2 and 5[1], and with the African Union 3 Year Implementation Plan of Action for the GCM in Africa (2020-2022). The project is also aligned with the commitments made in the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UNFCCC Task Force on Displacement Plan of Action 2019-2021.

To achieve this objective, the project is focused on three main pillars aligned with global policy priorities,

1. Data and Evidence: to create and improve an evidence base which supports policymaking and response across the nexus and to strengthen globally available knowledge on this topic as well as information sharing.

2. Policy Dialogue: to promote regional exchange among States in West Africa, to encourage policy coherence and a joint and integrated approach of policy development, and to support implementation of the relevant global policies at the regional and national levels.

3. Communication: to raise awareness the links between migration, displacement, planned relocation, disasters, climate change and environmental degradation and to promote solutions to address them in West Africa.


[1] GCM Objective 2: Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin. GCM Objective 5: Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration.



Ms. Ileana-Sinziana Puscas, Project Officer, Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Division, International Organization for Migration Headquarters, Geneva