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 two main areas: knowledge-building and operational implementation. The knowledge-building component seeks to deepen understanding of migration and labour market dynamics in the region, including the constraints and opportunities for employment creation and causes of skills shortages. The operational component will impact current and potential migrants through development of employment and skills opportunities focussing its pilot actions in the Ethiopia-Sudan migration corridor.