Free movement of persons and transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving opportunities for regular labour mobility

The overall objective of the project is to improve opportunities for regulated labour mobility and decent work within the IGAD countries through the development of models of intervention, in the broader context of the regional integration.

The eight* countries that make up the IGAD regional economic community form a vast and complex region. Despite differences, the countries share a number of challenges and opportunities as they move towards regional integration. While several countries have experienced strong economic growth in recent years, this has yet to translate into significant job creation. Labour markets must absorb large numbers of new workers entering the labour force each year as a result of population growth, while contending with structural difficulties in creating decent employment. A ‘vicious circle’ of limited access to education and adequate training, low wages and low-productivity jobs, and lack of basic protections leave many youth and workers excluded from fully participating in economic growth and development.

Labour migration can provide a safety valve to reduce the pressures on national labour markets that do not provide sufficient opportunities for decent work; at the same time migrant workers fill skills gap and meet labour market demands, thereby helping countries of destination sustain their economic growth. At the regional level, IGAD countries have made commitments to achieving greater regional integration and improving migration governance through the development appropriate legal and policy frameworks including establishment of a regional free movement regime. There is increasing recognition that free movement agreements have an immediate effect on the decent working conditions of migrant workers, as they provide access to legal channels for migration as well as a normative framework for addressing the rights of migrants.

Within this context, the ILO implementing a project titled “Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving Opportunities for Regular Labour Mobility” in collaboration with IGAD as a core element of “Towards Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD region” program financed by the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF).

The overall objective of the project is to improve opportunities for regulated labour mobility and decent work within the IGAD countries through the development of models of intervention, in the broader context of the regional integration. In the long-term, it is expected to extend decent work opportunities to current and potential migrants within the region, as well as contribute to regional integration, strengthen the link between economic growth and job growth, and enhance the social and economic integration of migrants.

The project’s interventions cover five result areas
1. Knowledge and Evidence Generation: Lack of evidence, data and research is one of the fundamental challenges to improve labour migration and mobility governance at national and regional level. Hence, with this project the ILO will conduct a series of policy-relevant researches that contributes to the drafting, negotiation and implementation of the IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons once it is adapted.

2. Increase the Capacity of Key Labour Market Actors: This result area aims to build the capacity of IGAD and its Member States to collect and analyse labour migration and labour market indicators as well as to respond to current and future challenges concerning labour migration and mobility governance. The capacity building activities target both technical experts and senior officials. While the expert level activities involve a series of online and face to face technical trainings, the senior level capacity building interventions are designed as workshops, experience sharing and dialogue forums.

3. Promote a Rights-Based Approach to Labour Migration Governance: The project will promote the ratification and implementation of key ILO conventions on migrant workers and support to member states in developing their national labour migration policies, bilateral labour agreements and instituting fair recruitment practices.

4. Promote Tripartism and Social Dialogue: Despite their central role in addressing labour market and labour migration governance challenges, the involvement of social partners in labour migration discussions is quite limited both at national and regional level. With this project, the ILO will support workers and employers’ organizations to engage and work with IGAD on pertinent labour migration and mobility governance challenges at regional level.

5. Youth Skilling and Employment Initiative (YSEI): The project will provide support in initial preparatory activities towards the development of a full flagged regional program on Youth Skilling and Employment which aims to enhance the employability of youths in the region and beyond.

* IGAD Member States are: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

Read also
ILO provided a platform for knowledge sharing among social partners in EAC- IGAD Member States
Workshop on ILO Conventions Related to Labour Migration and Mobility Governance
Social partners' capacity building workshop