500,000 Reached in Ethiopia by UN Migration Agency’s Awareness Raising on Irregular Migration

From an original goal of 200 kebeles (districts) in Ethiopia, Community Conversation (CC) – a pilot community-based awareness-raising project – has now reached 519 kebeles, or 500,000 members, in Ethiopia over the past three years. The project aims to reach a wide range of areas known to be prone to for irregular migration from Ethiopia.

Launched in 2014 by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) in Ethiopia and the Government of Ethiopia, the CC outreach programme is one of the different awareness-raising tools that IOM uses alongside forum theatres and peer education. These approaches are deemed effective, as they have the capacity to reach remote areas that would not have had access to information through normal media channels.

At a recent workshop in Adama, Ethiopia, government partners and Community Conversation facilitators affirmed that the CC programme has indeed been successful in reaching out to communities. They reported that the initiative is helping communities reflect deeply on the social norms that perpetuate irregular migration, in addition to challenging misinformation on the topic.

Among the participants were CC facilitators, staff from the Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs officials, as well as regional administrators. The participants explained the effectiveness of the programme and minor challenges they faced while implementing it. According to them, the pilot CC programme has been very effective in reaching out to more than 500 kebeles in a short period of time, in different remote areas in Ethiopia. The programme has also been branded as an all-inclusive approach by involving religious leaders, elderly figures and returnees.

In addition to bringing awareness and altering risk-taking behaviour among youth in the target communities, the initiative has significantly contributed to a decrease in school drop-out rates. It has also led to increased prosecution of human traffickers and smugglers, now that community members have started to see clearly the negative impact of human traffickers. Regional administrators from the Tigray, Amhara and Oromia regions stated that in the areas where CC was carried out they have seen a change in perception of irregular migration.

“We have seen a change in the community,” one administrator said. “We have a society that discourages irregular migration. Community Conversation has now become the norm for many kebeles.”

Despite these good experiences in the three regions, however, Getachew Mulgeta of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region stated that the number of irregular migrants has increased. “One of the challenges is that partners do not recognize irregular migration as a major problem, while another challenge is not being able to move as fast as the challenge,” a representative from the region explained.

The National Consultative Workshop on Community Conversation was held to assess the progress of the unique CC awareness-raising approach and to learn from previous experiences.

For further information, please contact Alemayehu Seifeselassie at the IOM Special Liaison Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tel: +251 911 63 90 82, Email: salemayehu@iom.int

A Community Conversation (CC) outreach programme at Butajira, Ethiopia.