UNHCR and ILO to launch a joint initiative to support the urbanization and economic integration process of Malian refugees in Niger

Press release | 22 November 2019
Mali’s on-going security crisis began in 2012 and has resulted in an influx of 56,500 Malian refugees to Niger –the majority of whom are hosted in the refugee camps of Tabareybarey, Mangaize and Abala and the hosting area of Intikane, which are in the border regions of Tillabéry and Tahoua.

In alignment with the Global Compact on Refugees and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework’s call for the enhancement of refugee resilience and self-reliance through economic inclusion, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is supporting the Government of Niger in its efforts to urbanize the three refugee camps by integrating them into nearby Nigerien urban centers.

In light of the above, UNHCR and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have embarked on a joint initiative to support the acceleration of the urbanization and economic integration process of Malian refugees. Thanks to the support of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State (USDOS), a two-year project will support market-based livelihood development interventions through the promotion of a business-enabling environment and the strengthening of the aquaculture value chain, and the institutionalization of sustainable waste management practices in Ayorou Department, Tillabéry region.

Facilitating economic collaboration between refugee and host communities, while also using support for improved livelihoods as a tool for community empowerment, this project builds on the findings of a 2018 joint UNHCR-ILO market system analysis.

The project is based on the outcomes of a study undertaken in the regions of Tillabery and Tahoua, which identified aquaculture as a value chain with considerable potential for economic growth and employment creation. This market-analysis also found that the lack of suitable infrastructure and knowledge about sustainable solid waste management were key risk factors for environmental degradation in both refugee camps and neighboring areas.

Through its dynamic and solid cooperation with the UNHCR, the ILO has gained significant experience with market-based livelihood interventions, tailored to the specific needs of refugees and host communities. Currently, UNHCR and ILO work in over fifteen countries to develop holistic and market-based livelihoods strategies that are adapted to local contexts and market realities. In this context, the ILO has introduced a “push-pull” approach to develop holistic and market-based livelihood strategies. While pull interventions aim to develop specific market sections and value chains with strong employment generation potential, push interventions focus on strengthening the capacities of a target group to take advantage of these decent work opportunities.

This joint UNHCR-ILO project funded by USDOS-PRM supports the implementation of the United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel by promoting the humanitarian-security-development nexus as a strategy to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Sahel.