The proposed initiative will intervene in the main departure and transit areas of migrants in the countries of intervention: the Tambacounda Region in Senegal, the North Bank and Central River Regions in Gambia and the Gabu and Bafatá Regions in Guinea Bissau. The three areas represent areas of origin and transit for a large part of migrants who choose to reach Europe through the so-called Western and Central Mediterranean Route.
Mani Tese will deal in particular with Guinea Bissau. In this country, the internal economy actually depends on the primary sector: agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing contribute 62.4% to GDP. Subsistence crops (rice, corn, millet, vegetables) prevail, which however cannot satisfy the internal needs. Economic development remains concentrated in the capital Bissau at the expense of the suburbs, especially the regions of Gabu and Bafatá – the subject of the present intervention by Mani Tese – which maintain a strong agro-pastoral vocation.
The lack of opportunities represents the main lever that pushes young people to try the path of irregular migration, also because often the tools for conscious choice are lacking. In fact, there is a lack of information and limited knowledge of what it means to migrate consciously and what the risks and consequences of unsafe migration are, especially for minors. In addition, returning migrants are stigmatized by their family and communities, which placed hopes in them for economic and social redemption, thus increasing their degree of socio-economic vulnerability.
The regions of Gabu and Bafatá in Guinea Bissau are among the poorest in the country; the food insecurity index of the Gabu area stands at 89.9% and in Bafatá it is around 87.4% (SISSAN 2018 data). The main causes are attributable to the isolation of the area, due to the almost total absence of paved roads, and to the fragility of the agricultural sector. The low productivity of agricultural systems depends on the difficulty of access to production factors (seeds, fertilizers, tools) and to adequate technologies (agricultural machines), as well as low technical skills. There are also almost no units for the conservation and transformation of agri-food products, which would allow on the one hand the regular establishment of cereal reserves and on the other an increase in income through the sale of derivative products, which have a higher commercial value.
When it comes to migration, the phenomenon of child trafficking cannot be forgotten in West Africa. In the two regions of intervention in Guinea Bissau, the migration of unaccompanied minors is a clear example. These minors, defined as talibé, are children that families entrust to family members or known people with the prospect that they will be sent abroad to study. In reality they are placed in Koranic schools in foreign countries and often employed in begging activities. One can imagine the consequent terrible stresses deriving from the lack of food, from the lack of a place to sleep at night (which often becomes the street), from corporal punishment if the begging did not give good results, from the impossibility of returning to the own family of origin. Only the local NGO AMIC (Associazione Amici dei Bambini) in the year 2018 reintegrated 163 cases of unaccompanied minors returned or intercepted at their borders into their families of origin, including 10 cases of early and forced marriage.
Guinea Bissau, region of Gabu
The aim of the project is to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of young people at risk of irregular migration and returning migrants. It is intended to achieve this by creating income-generating employment opportunities on the spot, providing greater awareness of the risks of irregular migration and taking care of the reintegration of returning migrants, especially if they are minor. In the latter case, specific accompaniment and psychosocial support to families by an expert is necessary, so that the optimal conditions for the reintegration of the minor are created.
Guinea Bissau region of Gabu ,Gambia,Senegal,
18,500 direct beneficiaries, people and families
The following activities are those of specific competence of Mani Tese and of the local partner AMIC in Guinea Bissau.
1. Support to the horticultural and peanut supply chain with an increase in production and commercial capacity
The approach that the project wants to use is to provide beneficiaries with a series of innovative knowledge in the field of agroecology, which will allow beneficiaries to find everything they need for cultivation through local or self-produced products. The costs will thus be reduced and also, thanks to the absence of pesticides and chemical herbicides, the production will be totally organic, ensuring the protection of the ecosystem of the villages where the project will work.
As for the horticultural supply chain, 4 existing gardens (120 people) will be supported and another 2 (60 people) will be built, each one hectare wide. Specific training will be held and various techniques and cultivation treatments will be studied, such as the production of compost, the production of biorepellants, associations, rotations and the use of trap plants, the cultivation of fruit plants around and inside the vegetable garden. The necessary basic materials will also be distributed (hoes, watering cans, rakes, spades, seeds, etc.). Irrigation systems will be built or rehabilitated within the 6 horticultural perimeters, using solar energy systems, to make the use of irrigation water more effective and efficient. Thanks to the new irrigation systems, the horticultural campaign can be extended even during the dry season. We will also try to increase the impact of this activity to guarantee women, who traditionally deal with it, a higher income in order to support their independence and emancipation.
As for peanuts, this is the third most important crop in Guinea-Bissau and is also of great importance in Guinean nutrition. It is expected to form basic agricultural groups (GAB) of at least 10 people, who will be trained on the agroecology techniques most suitable for a field cultivation such as peanut. It is expected that each person belonging to a GAB will grow at least one hectare. The activity is aimed at returning migrants and potential migrants (young people looking for work) and aims to create self-employment opportunities. It is expected to involve 70 people with the distribution of a cultivation kit (seeds, hoes, machetes, rakes, local products for the production of bio-repellents) and a marketing kit (bags, scales, etc.) and obviously with the necessary training.
A Marketing Committee will then be set up between the beneficiaries of the gardens and one among the peanut producers to try to increase their weight on the local market. The Marketing Committees will help the beneficiaries to concentrate the harvest to sell it together; this will allow producers to have greater negotiating power and at the same time a reduction in transaction costs between traders and buyers.
2. Strengthening of the Community child protection device
In Guinea Bissau, the search and location of families is one of the first steps to start the process of reintegration of minors in the countries of origin. AMIC in Guinea Bissau has focal points / antennas scattered across the country and Management and Supervisory Committees set up in 10 sensitive villages in the Gabu region. The role of these committees is to be an early warning mechanism in villages, to raise awareness and possibly report. In order to be more widespread in the territory, the project claims to develop 10 more committees in 10 different villages and to train them adequately. The project will also increase the capabilities of AMIC staff in the various phases of its activity, from identifying the minor to reintegrating into the family.
At institutional level, Guinea Bissau also needs reinforcement to implement the relevant international guidelines, given that to date there is still no organized state structure. To this end, the project intends to carry out 5 workshops, in which institutional capacities will be strengthened in relation to the national and international legal framework on child trafficking, to the ECOWAS standards on the protection of children in mobility and to the role of the different institutions in the reintegration process.
3. Reception and reintegration activities for unaccompanied minors
The process of reintegration of unaccompanied minors begins with identification in the country of migration, through direct contact between NGO partners in the two countries of origin and migration. Systematic collection of information on the minor that must be promptly communicated to the partner in the country of origin, to start the localization and search for families, is indispensable in these phases. When the identification and evaluation of the families are completed, the return of the minors takes place, generally in groups, transporting them by the AMIC to the Temporary Reception Center of Gabu. The project intends to support this center through basic kits for food, hygiene and health. The building will also be subjected to renovation and improvement in order to offer the basic conditions for the children welcomed: electricity, water, safety and a children’s playground. In all these phases, the project staff will carry out evaluation, research and monitoring phases on the ground.
After analyzing the situation of the minor and the family, the minors will be reintegrated into the community of origin when the vestments and conditions allow it. They will be supported with school support or in apprenticeship. If the adolescent child, in a condition of little or no literacy, shows the need to learn a job. With this in mind, the project provides for the reintegration into the family or alternative custody of at least 80 unaccompanied minors who have returned. All the reintegration phases will be accompanied by psychosocial support of the vulnerable child.
4. Post-reintegration psychosocial support activities aimed at vulnerable children and returning migrants
In Guinea Bissau, post-reintegration psychosocial support for returning migrants and unaccompanied minors is extremely important; therefore this activity involves its implementation with specialized and trained personnel. In particular, the accompaniment of the minor during post reintegration should be ensured for at least two years. During the project period, psychosocial visits are expected to be carried out at least every 2 months, providing the family and the minor with means for direct communication with social workers. In most cases, returning young migrants are very ashamed and are not well accepted in the community because they are seen as “those who have not made it”. Psychosocial staff will have the task of listening, suggesting and mediating the most complex cases with families and communities. The center will define opening days for psychosocial sessions and will support young people from villages further away from Gabu with transport subsidies.
5. Organization of awareness and information events on local training and employment opportunities
An annual migration festival will be organized in collaboration with other actors active in the migration projects in the region and in conjunction with the International Day for Migrants’ Rights on 18 December. Based on the experience capitalized in 2018, which saw the presence of 4,000 people, the purpose of the festival will mainly be to give a positive message of the country through culture, dance and traditions, as well as to raise awareness among young people and the communities of the east of the country on the risks of irregular migration, giving space to the economic and productive opportunities of Guinea Bissau. The message will also be strengthened with the participation of the group of returning migrants, who will bear witness and perform in some artistic expressions (song, dance). The festival has a great impact on youth and the songs can be used as a vehicle to convey the awareness message on the topic. In addition to music there will also be traditional theater, poetry and dance with the support of Netos de Bandim, an internationally recognized Guineese artistic group.
6. Raising awareness with debates, theaters and radio campaigns on the risks of early mobility and safe migration
In Guinea Bissau, raising awareness of the communities and families in the Gabu region is essential in order to be able to raise awareness of the phenomenon of trafficking and in particular of the phenomenon of talibé and the risks of irregular migration. 10 djumbai will be organized (debates in which reference people for the community are included). We will act on the reasons for the departure, involving the people of reference who within a community can have a role in pushing towards the migratory choice and / or the choice to send a child to “study” in a Koranic school in abroad.
The difference between regular and irregular migration will be explained, with the consequent risks. The animators will be accompanied by an AMIC technician who will focus on the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors who risk becoming victims of trafficking. To simplify the concepts of the topics addressed, itinerant theaters will also be performed in 5 different areas of the region. The technique of the theater of the oppressed will be used, which provides for an active involvement of the public.
Radio programming as an awareness tool will consist of a very varied format: the aim is twofold, to clearly inform about the risks of this type of travel and about the pressure factors that induce young people to leave their country, highlighting the economic opportunities and production that can be implemented locally. To this end, testimonies on possible opportunities in the area of origin will be presented and success stories of entrepreneurs and young people who have been able to carry out their projects will be told.
I am Paola Toncich, after graduating in Development and International Cooperation and a period of training and work I left Italy for Latin America, where Bolivia welcomed me for 7 years. That was an important period for job, but also for life, during which I was able to discover the country at 360 degrees. Initially, I worked in food security and income generation projects in Bolivian […]