With support from the UK Department for International Development (DfID), IOM’s GMDAC is implementing part of a route-based, multi-year programme focusing on the Central Mediterranean Route (CMR), in coordination with several IOM missions and partner agencies.

The overall aim of the project is to contribute to safer and more orderly migration along the Central Mediterranean Route, resulting in fewer deaths and less suffering for migrants along migratory routes. The programme covers 10 countries in West and Central Africa and North Africa.

IOM’s GMDAC portion of the programme includes four main components:

  1. Missing Migrants Project (MMP)
  2. Impact evaluation of information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration
  3. Data capacity building for governments
  4. Data analysis and evidence for policy

Below are more details about each of these components.

Missing Migrants Project

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project collects data on migrants who have died or have gone missing at state borders, or in the process of migrating to an international destination. The project was developed in response to the multiple deaths and disappearances of migrants occurring along migratory routes around the world. Data on migrant deaths and disappearances can help to inform SDG indicator 10.7.2, which calls for the facilitation of safe migration, and objective 8 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which concerns the need to ‘save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants.’

Since the project began in 2014, the deaths or disappearances of more than 32,000 men, women, and children have been recorded during migration, including nearly 18,000 in the Mediterranean Sea. The Missing Migrants Project collaborates with various government and non-government entities to collect data, and also draws on media and other available sources of information.  The Project’s website hosts the only publicly available database on migrant fatalities globally, and has become a key reference for information on missing migrants. 

Closely related to the Missing Migrants Project is the Fatal Journeys report series, which discusses key thematic issues relating to migrant deaths and disappearances. The most recent volume, Fatal Journeys 4: Missing Migrant Children, focuses on why it is often difficult to find data on missing migrants disaggregated by age and explores what measures could be taken to improve data on missing migrant children, to help improve policy options and to prevent these tragedies from occurring. 

Another related project, “Assessing the needs of families searching for relatives lost in the Central and Western Mediterranean”, is looking at the needs of the family members of migrants who have gone missing on the Central and Western Mediterranean migration routes.

Impact evaluation of information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration

The objective of this project component is to improve the evidence base for information campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the risks of irregular migration and legal alternatives. Evidence for designing effective information campaigns of this kind among potential migrants is lacking across the board. Despite the increasing number of campaigns implemented in West and North Africa, insights into the impact of existing campaigns – as well as guidance on how to design and effectively implement campaigns in different settings – are hard to come by. This is true for different approaches including community events, radio shows, and social media campaigns.

IOM’s GMDAC, together with IOM’s Media and Communications Division (MCD), plans to address such dearth of evidence by conducting a quantitative impact assessment of information campaigns in West Africa, reviewing the existing literature, and providing guidance on how to design, implement and evaluate effective IOM information campaigns. IOM is uniquely positioned to carry out these activities, due to its experience with information campaigns (Aware MigrantsIOM-X), its plans to implement information campaigns under the EU Trust Fund, and its relationships with external partners, including the International Rescue Committee.

The impact evaluation will be carried out in two countries selected based on the scope, quality, accessibility and type of information campaigns conducted. Campaigns will be carefully selected based on a review and mapping of ongoing and planned information campaigns.

Data capacity building for governments

Effective policy making requires a sound evidence-base. This is reflected in the Sustainable Development Goal Target 17.18 which calls for “high-quality and timely data to be disaggregated by a number of characteristics, including migratory status.” However, many countries are unable to report on even the most basic facts and figures on migration. For example, only one in four countries can provide the UN Statistics Division with data on international migration flows from and to the country. It can be even more difficult to get data on specific migration topics, especially those relating to protection.

This component will build on existing and ongoing capacity-building efforts in the region to strengthen migration data in countries along the CMR, with a view to focus on protection-related data and to explore relevant data sources in more depth.

More specifically, it will support 120 national migration data producers and users from Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali and Niger to enhance collection, sharing and use of migration data for policy and programming, with a view to protect vulnerable migrant groups and to use existing data, particularly from administrative sources, more effectively. Beneficiaries will include technical officers and decision-makers from National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and migration-relevant line ministries, and activities will be aligned as much as possible with existing processes relevant to migration data at the country and regional level

Data analysis and research

Timely, reliable, disaggregated data and contextual information related to populations on the move on the CMR are imperative to well-informed, well-managed, and humane responses. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls upon all states to facilitate safe and orderly migration, including through the implementation of well-managed migration policies. To support states to meet these obligations, the international community has been calling for stronger and more comprehensive data, analysis and actionable information to ensure that vulnerable groups, including migrants, are not “left behind.”

In a context like the CMR, where migration flows result from reasons as diverse as conflict, violence, human rights violations, fragile economies, poor governance and unstable environments, and spill over within and outside of countries, regions and continents, it is important to enhance collective understandings of drivers, routes, migrant profiles and impact of policies to inform targeted protection measures, safe alternatives and effective policy responses in countries of origin, transit and destination.  A more comprehensive, longitudinal and route-based approach is critical to inform a coordinated response, improve understanding of migration patterns over time and promote effective, sustainable policy responses.

IOM’s GMDAC will support in-depth and thematic analysis and reporting on topics of relevance across the CMR. Analyses of migrant flows along the CMR to date have been largely focused on countries or sub-regions, and understanding of intra- and inter-regional movements within West and Central Africa, East Africa and North Africa is still fairly limited. IOM’s GMDAC will adopt a route-based approach and integrate IOM’s primary data and research with secondary sources (e.g. Gallup World Poll) to address these gaps and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of population movements along the CMR. GMDAC’s analysis will further consider how policy developments over the course of the programme affect migration patterns on the route.