Does local democracy impact emigration from the Sahel?

On 19 April 2015, a boat travelling from Libya to Italy sank. Seven hundred of the 729 people on board – most of whom came from Senegal – lost their lives.

What are the reasons behind the wave of European-bound emigration from the Sahel? Why are so many people – young men in particular – leaving their homes, families and villages behind to undertake a perilous journey to an unknown future?

As part of a research series that seeks to understand the multiple treatable causes for climate-related migration from the Sahel towards Europe and the role of local political representation through local government in addressing those causes, researchers travelled to the Tambacounda Region in Senegal to speak with the families of those who lost their lives.

The research series consists of several Working Papers and Reports, two of which have been published, by the research group led by Prof. Jesse Ribot and Dr Papa Faye:
•    Local Government and Migration: a review of literature and media narratives with focus on West African Sahel (Working Paper 13)
•    Theories of migration in and from rural Sub-Saharan Africa: review and critique of current literature (Working Paper 14)

Read more about the project. 

The short film below explores some of the key reasons behind the emigration from the perspectives of the locals – market exclusion, low crop prices, lack of social services and inadequate political representation.

ICLD Migration from the Sahel from ICLD