Main activities

Main activities of Labour migration in Southern and Eastern Africa.

1.The ACI 8 Labour Migration Project:

Title: "Policy development, regional mobility and social dialogue on labour migration: Southern and Eastern Africa" (2014-2015)

Migration in Africa is essentially intra-regional with about 77% of the estimated 31 million migrants residing in Sub-Saharan Africa[1]. Migrant workers are often found in settings characterized by low incomes and wages, precarious jobs and abysmal working conditions, lack of social protection and often low skills portfolios. In all sub-regions of Africa, significant gaps exist in policy and law to protect migrant workers’ rights which leave many migrants vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace. This is partly due to the fact that migration policy has focused more on border security than labour markets, and there is a lack of tripartism and/or capacity among social partners in migration policy at national and regional levels which could strengthen protections and effectively address unacceptable forms of work.

The project is premised on the assumption that through social dialogue, the ILO’s tripartite constituents can play an important role in the development of rights-based, transparent and coherent labour migration legislation and policies, taking account of labour market needs. Enhancing the capacity of the social partners to engage in policy dialogue at national, sub-regional and regional levels will support the increased recognition of the labour aspects of migration, and the issues at stake for employers and workers organisations. In line with the ILO's Area of Critical Importance 8, on the "Protection of workers against the most unacceptable forms of work", this project is about supporting capacity building and cross-country collaboration, particularly within regional economic communities (RECs). This will enable the social partners to engage in policy development and to put into effect the policies, labour standards, and frameworks which will contribute to greater migrant worker protections. In this regard, the project works closely with the AUC, specific RECs and selected country together with regional, sub regional and national workers’ and employers’ organizations.

The Southern and Eastern Africa ACI8 Project on Labour Migration focuses on the following three intervention areas:
  • Support to the SADC Secretariat and Member States (under the ILO Area Office for Southern Africa and Decent Work Team - Pretoria and in collaboration with the IOM Regional Office in Pretoria)
    • Strengthening and implementation of the sub-regional frameworks on labour migration;
    • Reinforcement of capacity of the SADC Employment and Labour Sector Coordination on Labour Migration;
    • Support to labour migration policy development and tripartite social dialogue among member states;
    • Strengthening of capacity among Workers and Employers organisations on servicing members in the area of labour migration
Priority countries: Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

  • Support to the EAC Secretariat and Member States in the areas of (under the ILO Area Office for EAst Africa in Dar-es-Salaam):
    • Reinforcement of the capacities of the EAC structures to promote tripartite social dialogue on labour migration
    • Strengthening of labour migration policy development and tripartite social dialogue among member states
    • Strengthening of capacity among Workers and Employers organisations on servicing their members in the area of labour migration
Priority countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

  • Technical and strategic support to the African Union Commission in the framework of the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP) (under the ILO Regional Office for Africa):
    • Technical support to the development and awareness raising on the JLMP;
    • Support to the strengthening of capacity within the AUC on the implementation of the JLMP

2. Global Action Programme on Migrant Domestic Workers

The ILO project Global Action Programme On Migrant Domestic Workers And Their Families seeks to promote the human and labour rights of migrant domestic workers through an evidence-based, participatory and integrated intervention approach. Its overall objective is to increase the number of migrant domestic workers worldwide who have access to decent work and human and labour rights protection and to understand what stands in the way of increased protection where international standards have been adopted.
The project seeks to expand the relevant knowledge base at all levels, combining global, regional and country-based research along 5 selected “migration corridors” (Ukraine-Poland, Nepal-Lebanon, Zimbabwe-South Africa, Paraguay-Argentina and Indonesia-Malaysia).

In southern Africa, the project has consisted in two studies in Zimbabwe and South Africa comprising:
  • a country profile of migrant domestic work based on a statistical analysis and background information on the legislation and practices;
  • qualitative country studies focusing on employers' recruitment choices, workers' conditions of work and the state of tripartite social dialogue.

These studies will be shared with domestic workers' organisations in the two countries in a series of workshops intended to strengthen these organisations strategic and organisational capacities. The studies will also be shared with member states in a series of tripartite national meetings in the forst half of 2015. See events section.

Project Global Coordinator: Maria Elena Valenzuela, MIGRANT Branch, Geneva,

3. Support to research-action: The Migrating for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC) (2012-2015)

Building on over a decade of research experience in migration studies, the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at Wits University embarked on a partnership with a range of academic (GovINN, UP; UNU-CRIS; UNESCO Chair on Free Movement), government (Department of Labour; South African Local Government Association; Statistics South Africa), and international (ILO; IOM) partners. This partnership is expressed through the Migrating for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC).

The objective of this research consortium supported by ILO Pretoria has been to assess the impact of labour migration on the South African labour market through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods in four areas: Policy, Data, Sectors, and Social Rights Portability.

Over three years, MiWORC has produced a range of innovative, ground-breaking research ouputs as well as contributed to the training of government officials from the Department of Labour and Statistics South Africa. Its findings have been shared with Workers and Employers organisations in South Africa and at SADC level.

For more on MiWORC and access to all reports and outputs: