Support to Free Movement of persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM) West Africa Technical Assistance project – Summary of ILO Role and Activities

The FMM Project intervenes in the areas of labour migration, policy development, counter-trafficking, protection of migrants’ rights, child protection, especially children on the move and social security.

FMM West Africa Technical Assistance project – Summary of ILO Role and Activities


This paper provides a summary of the ILO’s activities conducted under the framework of the FMM West Africa Project from the effective start of project activities to date (June 2013–September 2016).


The ILO is the U.N. specialized agency responsible for enhancing governance of the world of work. Its mandate includes the protection of migrant workers, drafting and promoting International Labour Standards, promoting employment, extending social protection and social security, and facilitating social dialogue in the world of work. In line with its mandate, within the framework of the FMM Project, the ILO intervenes in the areas of labour migration, policy development, counter-trafficking, protection of migrants’ rights, child protection, especially children on the move and social security. According to the Project Log frame, these activities are mainly grouped under Results 1.4: “The capacities of the ECOWAS Commission in the area of labour migration management are strengthened” and 1.5: “The capacities of the ECOWAS Commission in the area of counter-trafficking are strengthened”

In addition to that, and in collaboration with IOM, ILO is also strongly involved in Result 1.2: “The migration data-collection and management capacities of the ECOWAS Commission are strengthened”. ILO also provide technical support and contributes to the Demand Driven F, and the Non State Actors fund activities.

Project staffing and Support

The ILO FMM Project team based in the ILO-Abuja Office consists of:
  • 1 Labour Migration Expert(full-time)
  • 1 National programme officer (full-time)
  • 1 Admin-finance assistant (part-time - 50% at the beginning, full time since 2015).
In addition to the full-time staff, 1 Programme Officer (short term contract,5 months, part-time) was engaged to support implementation of specific activities.
Names of Project staff
  • Mr Aly Cisse - Labour Migration Expert
  • Mrs Agatha Kolawole - Programme Officer
  • Mr Iniobong Charles - Admin and Finance Assistant
Furthermore, the team regularly draws on ILO in-house experts for technical support and advice on specific activities (developing and implementing training modules, preparing terms of reference for studies, participating to technical workshops, reviewing reports by consultants, etc.).

These include ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS (office space, equipment, technical staff provided to the project before the recruitment, technical and financial support, etc.) ILO labour migration and counter-trafficking specialists, Finance Branch (Geneva Headquarters), labour statistics specialists (Geneva HQ, ILO Regional Office for Africa; ILO Decent Work Team Dakar), employment specialists (Geneva HQ) and the ILO International Training Centre (Turin).

Research reports and assessments are primarily produced through consulting contracts which draw on the ILO’s network of external experts.

Outputs and activities

  • At the inception of the FMM West Africa Project, a revision of the Project document was conducted by the FMM partners. The team reviewed the project’s activities, work plan and budget for actual implementation based on initial assessment of the expected result and the actual situation. ILO provided the following support to activities in collaboration with IOM and ICMPD.Provided training to ECOWAS Commission and national experts on:
    • Migration policy development (Activity 1.1.6): 20 national officials trained (Regional training, May 2014)
    • Migration data collection (Activity 1.2.2) : 3 ECOWAS staff trained, (Nov.2014)
  • Technical Support to DDF. ILO is a member of the DDF technical Committee and provides technical support to the DDF actions in the areas of Labour Migration and Trafficking in Persons
  • Technical Support to NSA- the Labour Migration Expert and the Programme officer are members of the Grant Evaluation committee for the Non State Actors fund under the project and provided technical support in the evaluation and capacity building of the civil society organizations to be funded by the project. In addition, ILO ITC conducted the training programme for the CSOs.

Implementation of ILO Core Activities (April 2014 – September 2016)

At the initial stage of implementation of the FMM project, ILO project team focussed primarily on the areas of social dialogue, social security, strengthening public employment services, labour market information systems, trafficking in persons and child protection. For each of these areas, the intervention strategy can be broadly summarized as (1) conducting assessments to pinpoint capacity building needs and provide the basis for action plans and (2) generating interest and engagement from national and regional actors through follow-up workshops and trainings during which assessment results are validated and action plans are finalized. Below is a brief description of the project activities implemented by ILO.
  •  Activity 1.4.1: Conduct a baseline assessment to identify existing needs and priorities of the ECOWAS Commission in the area of labour migration management. One baseline assessment to analyse the capacities of the ECOWAS Humanitarian and Social Affairs Directorate (Social Affairs Division), Free Movement of Persons Directorate and other relevant structures in the governance of labour migration was conducted between December 2013 and February 2014. The report of the assessment stated key recommendations which guided the various capacity-development activities conductedfor the ECOWAS Commission and Member States.
  • Activity 1.4.2: Train key staff of the ECOWAS Commission on labour migration. 3 ECOWAS staff form the Social Affairs department were trained on labour migration management at the ILO Labour Migration Academy organized by the ILO International Training Centre (ITC) inJune 2014 and May 2015. The Labour Migration Academy enhancedthe capacity of the participants to better understand labour migration challenges and opportunities in a changing global political, economic and social context.
  •  Activity 1.4.3: Support the development of a tripartite dialogue on labour migration issues within the ECOWAS Regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Forum
    • One meeting of the ECOWAS Tripartite Social Dialogue Forum was supported (Bamako, Oct. 2015) with representatives from 12 Member States. The participants were trained on labour migration governance and social protection.
    • A Background paper on the labour migration situation in the region was produced and presented to participants at the Social dialogue Forum.
    • In the absence of a Permanent secretariat for the Forum, ILO supported the engagement of an external consultant to support the Forum activities before and after the meeting for 4 months.
    • The Meeting of the Bureau of the Social Dialogue Forum was held in Bamako, Mali, on the 3-4 May 2016. The meeting approved the new rules of procedures of the Forum, elaborated a work plan for the year 2016 and decided to hold the next meeting of the General Assembly in Conakry, Guinea, before end of the year 2016.
  •  Activity 1.4.4: Support the ECOWAS Commission in promoting the harmonization of labour legislation in ECOWAS Member States in line with international and ECOWAS standards and frameworks
    •  A draft report of a study on harmonization of labour laws conducted by experts under the leadership of ILO Dakar Office was shared with the project.
    • A technical meeting was held in September 2016 to review the first draft standard framework on the harmonization of labour laws in ECOWAS region.
    • The validation meeting of the standard framework on the harmonization of labour laws in ECOWAS region is to be held in November 2016.
    • The expected outcome is to have a directive on the harmonization of labour laws in the ECOWAS region
  •  Activity 1.4.5: Conduct a study on labour market information systems (LMIS) in the region and develop policy recommendations to improve labour market information exchange
    • A study on labour market and migration information systems (LMMIS) was conducted and the draft report produced in April 2015
    • A Technical meeting with ECOWAS Commission to review the results of the study and draft an action plan for the development of a regional LMMIS was held in April 2015at Abuja
    • A technical workshop on LMMIS was held in Niamey, Niger,13-14 October 2015. Over 35 participants representing observatories on employment and other public employment services from 12 ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania and officials from the ECOWAS Commission attended the workshop.The findings of the study was validated during the workshop.
    • A work plan for implementation, targeting six ECOWAS member states approved, and
    • A request for the implementation of the work submitted by ECOWAS to the DDF was approved by the DDF technical committee
  • Activity 1.4.6: Conduct an analysis of ECOWAS Member States public employment services’ capacities and will to join a regional network of Public Employment services
    • The project conducted an analysis of ECOWAS Member States public employment services’ capacities and the need for a regional network of public employment services between October and December 2014. Based on the recommendations of the labour migration baseline assessment (Activity 1.4.1), the study was oriented towards the development of a sub-regional public employment services database based on the “Accueil-Emploi” experience established in some West African countries.
    • Draft report of the feasibility study on extending the use of “AccueilEmploi” job matching database to strengthen PES regionally was produced in April 2015.
    • A Technical meeting with ECOWAS Commission to review the results of the study and discuss regionalization strategy was conducted in April 2015, at Abuja.
    • A workshop on strengthening PES was held with participants from 14 Member States and Mauritania in February 2016 at Dakar. Participants also validated the study and regional strategy at the workshop.
    • During the workshop, a draft request for the implementation of the findings of the study was presented by ECOWAS.The request was submitted to the DDF for support. Unfortunately it was not approved.
  • Activity 1.4.7: Support the harmonization of qualification recognition policies in ECOWAS Member States
    •  Implementation of this activity is yet to start. ILO is in consultation with ECOWAS and hope an activity can be implemented in 2017
    • Activity 1.4.8: Support the ECOWAS Commission in elaborating tools for Member States for the mainstreaming of the protection of the rights of migrant workers
    • The project supported a survey to assess the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocols with regard to the protection of migrant workers’ rights in ECOWAS Member States. The survey was conducted from November 2014 to February 2015.
    • Based on the findings of the survey, a guide for the mainstreaming of protection of the rights of migrant workers in ECOWAS Member States was developed in October 2015. The guide seeks to improve the knowledge and understanding of the rights accrued to migrants in ECOWAS Member States and how to ensure access to these rights.
    • A draft guide for policymakers on the protection of the migrant workers’ rights within the ECOWAS region was developed in April 2016. The draft guide was shared with ECOWAS and the consortium partners for comments and suggestions. The expert/consultant consolidated the comments from ILO and other partners.
    • The validation of the guide is expected to be done in November 2016 during the General Assembly of the ECOWAS Social Dialogue Forum.
  • Activity 1.4.9: Enhance progress in the extension of social security coverage to migrants and their families
    •  A study was conducted on the social security systems of ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, their level of coherence with the ECOWAS General Convention on Social Security, and identifying major challenges on the coordination of the social security systems of ECOWAS member countries.
    • A technical workshop for the validation of the findings of the study was organized in Abuja, 16-17 September, 2015 and draft copy produced in November 2015.
    • Technical workshop on the implementation of the ECOWAS General social security Convention with participants from 9 Member States and Mauritania was conducted in December 2015
    • The study was validated and a plan of action for implementation was developed
    • A request for the implementation of the action plan submitted by ECOWAS to the DDF. Unfortunately the request was not approved by the DDF technical committee
    • Meanwhile, most activities of the request integrated into an upcoming AU-ILO-MMD project on extending social security; a project that might be funded by the EC through ICMPD
  •  Activity 1.5.2: Develop and implement a comprehensive training plan for the ECOWAS Commission (TIP Unit) on counter-trafficking
    • A comprehensive training plan developed for the ECOWAS Commission and its Member States (TIP Unit) on counter-trafficking
    • Two staff members from the TIP Unit of the ECOWAS Commission participated in a training course which took place at ITC-ILO, Turin, Italy from 5 – 9 May, 2014. The training focused on “Identifying and Investigating Forced Labour and Trafficking Cases”. The course was delivered through a series of face to face seminars, plenary and small group discussions, as well as case studies. Certain sessions were facilitated through tele-conferencing.
  • Activity 1.5.5: Strengthen the network of TIP national focal points and their functions within their respective Member States for the diffusion of ECOWAS principles on counter –trafficking
    •  In addressing the capacity gaps of the TIP National Focal Points, identified in the ECOWAS baseline assessment on counter-trafficking conducted under Activity 1.5.1, a blended training programme was organized by the Project in partnership with the ITC. The blended training consists of an online course and a face to face workshop. The 2-phase blended training focussed on three thematic areas: TIP, Forced Labour and Child labour.
    • The online course for Anglophone and Francophone Members States was held from the 5th of March to 8th of May 2015, while the online course for the Lusophone Member State held from 20 April to 31 May 31 2015. A total of 36 participants (representing the NFPs and ECOWAS Commission) took part in the online course.
    • The face to face workshop was held from the 1st to 5th of February, 2016 at Benin Royale Hotel, Cotonou. The workshop equipped participants with relevant tools to conduct national and field based trainings received during the online courses. A total number of 19 persons participated at the workshop. The participants comprised of 12 National Focal points from ten Member States, 2 ILO project staff, 1 ECOWAS regional Adviser, 2 participants from IOM and 2 Facilitators (I from ILO ITC and 1 Consultant).
  • Activity 1.5.6: Elaborate tools to support ECOWAS Member States in conducting legislative reviews and establishing law enforcement mechanisms on counter-trafficking
    • A rapid assessment of the status of legislative reviews on counter-trafficking in the region was conducted in November 2014 in coordination with the EU Delegation and UNODC. Considering that a legislative review tools on counter-trafficking have already been developed by UNODC, it was agreed with the EU Delegation in Abuja that Activity 1.5.6 will focus on the law enforcement aspect.
    • A quick scan of the status of law enforcement on counter-trafficking in the Member States revealed poor coordination and limited capacity as one of the biggest gaps in law enforcement.
    • In view of the identified gap, a study was conducted on strengthening the law enforcement collaboration and to develop relevant tools to support Member States in establishing collaborative law enforcement mechanisms in West Africa and Mauritania.
    • The final draft of the report was submitted in May 2016 and is presently being edited for publication
  • Activity 1.5.8: Support the ECOWAS Commission’s capacity to provide guidance to Member States to address child protection challenges in relation to child mobility in West Africa
    • As part of the efforts to support the ECOWAS Commission, specifically its TIP Unit, in addressing child protection challenges in relation to child mobility in West Africa, the Project participated in and contributed to the meeting on “Child Protection in West Africa: Towards a Strengthened Regional Cooperation”, organized on 14-16 July 2014 by the Regional Working Group for Child Protection. This programme was also attended by the ECOWAS Commission, including the ECOWAS Commissioner for Humanitarian, Social Affairs and Gender.
    • The meeting produced the “Child Protection in West Africa: Plan of Action and Roadmap 2014 – 2015” which provides guidance for the Project’s activities under this portfolio.
    • To further strengthen the Child protection system within the ECOWAS region, the project in coordination with the ECOWAS Commission developed guidelines for the implementation of the ECOWAS Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Child Protection system in West Africa. This was finalized in January 2016 and is presently being edited for publication.
    • At the technical meeting, it was noted that the ECOWAS Child Policy and its Plan of Action has lapsed and should be reviewed to harmonize its provisions with the monitoring and evaluation framework and the guideline accordingly. ILO has engaged the services of a consultant to review the ECOWAS Child policy.

Main challenges encountered

  • Low number of technical staff at the ECOWAS Commission’s Humanitarian and Social Affairs Department. Under the FMM Project, a Principle Officer in Social Affairs in charge of Labour Migration and an officer in human trafficking were to be recruited by the Commission for the HSA Directorate. This Officer in charge of Labour Migration was intended to be the ILO’s primary focal point within the Commission. While the recruitment process is now in its final stages (as of Feb. 2016) the absence of this position for the first 2 years of project activities, combined with the overall low number of staffing in the Department might havean impact on the implementation of the project and on the sustainability of the activities.
  • Budget line ILO expert fees for DDF activities. Given the relatively small size of the ILO project team (2 full time technical staff members) and the fact that ILO specialists (HQ and field)are not always available to provide direct technical support to DDF activities, these funds will be used by the ILO to hire the relevant “external” expertise needed to support DDF initiatives. This external expertise could take the form of short term ILO contracts or Ex-coll. contracts appropriate.

Way forward

  • Implementation of activities related to the harmonization of qualification recognition policies in ECOWAS Member States will start in 2017. Synergies with AU initiatives will be explored.
  • Activities related to the harmonization of labour laws in ECOWAS region will continue with the FMM support. A study was already conducted, a first draft text on the harmonization of labour laws in ECOWAS region produced with the technical and financial support of ILO Dakar DWT.
  • To ensure the sustainability of ILO’s support to the ECOWAS commission and its member states on labour migration issues. A strategic approach will be developed for the implementation of recommendations and action plans that came out from studies conducted on ECOWAS member states Public Employment Services (PES), Labour Market Information System (LMIS) Social security and on the sustainability of training on counter-trafficking for ECOWAS Member states and for the ECOWAS Commission. A first draft Concept Note was developed in collaboration with ECOWAS. Discussions with MIGRANT and ROAF on the concept note were initiated. Possibility to develop a regional, or sub regional programme based on the concept note.
  • A capacity building programme for Child labour and protection actors in Member States on the guidelines and the revised Child policy is to be planned under the FMM project in 2017.


This project is jointly funded by the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission