Decent Rural Employment

Tapping into the development potential of migration in Senegal


Abdoulaye Wade’s ambition is to run his own cattle fattening and market gardening business. When he returned to Senegal from Libya in 2020, FAO had just started piloting a new project in his area. The initiative focuses on facilitating the socio-economic integration of returning and prospect migrants. It helps them start their own small-scale agribusiness by providing training in farming and entrepreneurial skills and facilitating access to markets and finance.

“Since our return, FAO helped migrants form a single large association, set up a large consultation framework for migration, and selected 20 young people, including 7 women, for training and incubation” says Abdoulaye. With the support of a facilitator trained by FAO, Abdoulaye is currently working on the administrative formalities that will help him launch his business, “looking forward to filling my lack of experience with the training and guidance provided by FAO.” 

Alongside Abdoulaye, 19 other returning and prospect migrants are working to bring their business ideas to life, as part of the FAO project “Providing sustainable alternatives to migration and enhancing its positive impacts on agricultural and rural development,” funded through the  Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM) - FAO’s main pooled funding mechanism.

Senegal has traditionally been an important country of destination in the West Africa region, and has now become a country of transit and outmigration. The FAO project is focused on enhancing local migration governance mechanisms by building the capacities of national and local policy makers to integrate migration considerations into development planning. It does so also by piloting innovative mechanisms to support returning migrants and their families as well as people looking for migration opportunities.

The project has already made an impact, raising the awareness of local policy makers on the linkages between migration, rural development and youth employment; setting up municipal offices in local communities to support migrants’ initiatives; including migration in territorial development plans; and supporting the formation of migrants’ associations and strengthening existing ones.

One of the most impactful and innovative interventions is the establishment of the BCAOM (Bureaux Communaux d’Accueil et d’Orientation des Migrants). These are orientation and support desks for prospective and return migrants, currently piloted in the municipalities of Bonconto, Darou Salam, Toubacouta, Taïf, Keur Momar Sarr and Fanaye.

The help desks are dedicated to potential migrants, members of the diaspora, and returnees and are thought to support agribusiness activities, the socio-economic reintegration of returning migrants as well as to act as a general point of reference, within the municipality, for any question related to migration. The choice of setting up these offices at municipal level was taken with the objective of addressing migration issues locally, closer to people, and facilitating the circulation of information with rural communities.

The BCAOM are run by facilitators who have been selected among the officials of the municipalities and have been trained and coached by FAO. BCAOM animators cover different roles. They welcome migrants, inform them about the type of assistance and capacity building opportunities available, help them set up productive activities and identify financial partners.

One of these facilitators is Cheikh Oumar Sabaly, from the village of Boconto. Cheikh is convinced that “the FAO project in Bonconto is more than important and comes in a context where the need for orientation and training for economic and social reintegration is considerable.” Cheikh has helped many migrants in setting up legally recognized associations and works tirelessly with the diaspora to create funding and training opportunities for young returning and prospect migrants.

As the project unfolds, FAO keeps working on giving rural people, especially youth, decent work opportunities to make migration a choice and enhance its positive impact on rural communities.

“If FAO's activities continue, I can clearly have a good start in my project. I am ready to work seriously so that, in the near future, I can employ young people in my project and convince them to stay in Senegal and succeed here” says Abdoulaye.