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L'Emploi rural décent

Migrants boost rural development in Senegal


Migration is an inherent part of the development process and a key component of livelihood strategies for millions of rural households. If well managed, migratory flows can be an engine of economic growth and innovation and can greatly contribute to sustainable development. Through its programmatic work on migration, FAO is committed to harness the potential of migrants as agents of rural development in countries of origin, transit and destination.

As part of these efforts, in Senegal FAO is working to foster productive investments of migrants' remittances and diaspora funds in the rural economy, with the aim of creating more and better farm and non-farm jobs for rural youth in migration-prone areas. This also allows to address the youth unemployment challenge, which is one of the main adverse drivers of migration from Senegalese rural areas.

Senegal, as the rest of the sub-Saharan Africa, is experiencing a rapid population growth, paired with a lack of gainful job opportunities able to absorb the booming young labour force. On a total population of about 15 million people, 3 million are youth aged 15-24 years and half of them live in rural areas. The youth population of Senegal is expected reach 6.7 million by 2050. In this context, many Senegalese have migrated within Senegal and to Europe, mainly for economic reasons and lack of viable livelihoods opportunities in their own areas of origin.

With the objective of harnessing the opportunities and the development potential associated with migration, FAO generates evidence and knowledge on migratory trends and dynamics for an informed policy-making. In Senegal, FAO collected data from 1,000 households in two rural regions particularly prone to migration, namely Kaolack and Matam, in order to identify the characteristics of migrants and their families, while assessing the impacts of migration on rural livelihoods.

Based on these data, FAO carried out a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics and the fundamental causes of migration from rural areas, the linkages between social protection and migration, the impact of remittances and diaspora funds on farm and non-farm activities, as well as the capacity of the rural space to create decent jobs opportunities for youth and absorb new labour market entrants.

These analyses led to policy recommendations at national, regional and local level on how to foster productive investments from return migrants and diaspora by using innovative financing mechanisms. To make this happen, a strategic collaboration has been established with the Direction Générale des Sénégalais de l’Extérieur (DGSE) of the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Such recommendations also built upon a nationwide mapping of existing technical and financial mechanisms set up to help migrants and diaspora invest in their areas of origin. The mapping exercises was based on four consultative workshops, which covered the 14 regions of Senegal and brought together a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including local governments, migrants’ associations, NGOs, development agencies, private sector, and financial service providers. During the workshops, participants contributed to identify the most successful migrants' economic initiatives and the best technical and financial support programmes in each region, as well as context-specific challenges.

A final workshop was organized in April 2018 to present and discuss the overall results of the studies and the related policy recommendations. At the end of the workshop, participants and policy makers validated a national roadmap for better inclusion of migration aspects into agricultural and rural development policies.

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