Local Government and Migration: A Review of Literature and Media Narratives with focus on West African Sahel

Multiple questions are constantly asked about migration. What are the driving forces behind migration? What happens at the intersection of climate threats, social injustices and migration? Is migration a product of social structures or voluntary individual action? And in general, what is the role of local governments in relation to emigration? Many of these issues concern municipalities that ICLD cooperates with. The issues of participation, equity, transparency and accountability that form the core of our programs are influenced by migration processes both nationally and internationally.

ICLD has therefore asked researchers to deal with some fundamental issues surrounding migration that can increase our understanding of this phenomenon. This working paper presents a comprehensive review of the scholarly literature and media narratives about the role of local government in migration, with a focus on West African Sahel.

It provides important background for local governments interested in understanding the complex phenomenon of migration and the role of local governments. It highlights the multiple causes behind a person’s decision to migrate and the importance of putting the agency of migrants at the centre of any political debate. Moreover, this paper presents three key roles for local governments in the current debate: first, in framing social and economic development, second, regarding the importance of remittances for local communities and finally, the role of return migrants in local politics.