Understanding Relations between Local Communities and Transit Migrants in Gao and Agadez

This study examines the relations between local communities and transit migrants in Agadez, Niger and Gao, Mali. Agadez and Gao are two important migration transit hubs in the Sahel where the scale of development and humanitarian programming has increased significantly in the past five years. Findings draw on a desk review of 58 sources, semi-structured interviews with 30 humanitarian and development workers and 30 community stakeholders, 480 remote quantitative surveys with migrants and community members, and 60 remote in-depth interviews with migrants and community members in both locations. 

The study finds that:

  • Community perceptions of migrants varied greatly among respondents and suggested relations between local communities and migrants in Agadez are under greater strain compared to Gao. 
  • In both locations, community members often expressed negative attitudes towards specific segments within the migrant population, including women and migrants of certain nationalities. 
  • The nature of past interactions and strength of socio-economic ties between migrants and community members played a significant role in shaping attitudes. Although most migrants and local community members interact frequently, these interactions generally take place in the neighbourhood, the street, or the market. As a result, data suggests the two groups generally have weak social and economic ties in both study locations. 
  • Community members often attributed their attitudes to the perceived impact of migrants on the local economy, values and security. 
  • Several contextual factors in the two study locations appeared to influence how local communities perceived migrants’ impact on their community, and explained diverging perspectives in Agadez and Gao. Factors that emerged clearly from the data include i) a higher volume of flows and number of stranded migrants, ii) the political-economic implications of migration policy in Niger and iii) discontent with migrant-targeted programming in Agadez. 
  • Migrants confirmed that the local community is often an important source of support and assistance, supporting their ability to avoid and recover from harm. 
  • Reported incidents of harm and abuse towards migrants from local community members were relatively infrequent, though not absent.

See here for the executive summary in French.

If you have questions or feedback on the study, please contact amy@seefar.org

*Seefar forms part of the consortium delivering the Independent Monitoring, Rapid Research and Evidence Facility (IMREF) of the SSS Phase II programme commissioned by the Department for International Development (DFID).

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