Mitigating the COVID-19 impacts on cross-border human mobility through a community-based response in border areas between Guinea and Mali
Bourema Younoussa, Deputy Resident Representative in Charge of Programmes and Operations, UNDP Guinea,
Maximilian Diaz, Programme Manager, IOM Guinea, email@example.com
Related Sustainable Development Goals and Global Compact for Migration Objectives
In Guinea, IOM and UNDP worked together in two local prefectures on the Guinea-Mali border (Mandiana and Siguiri Prefectures) in the early months of 2021 to support both local authorities including border officials and the wider cross-border community. In border communities, lives and livelihoods are intimately intertwined with mobility. Consequently, the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing border restriction measures have had a negative socio-economic impact on Guinea border communities and on the livelihoods of vulnerable households relying on small and informal businesses.
The generalized vulnerability of the population and particularly of youth, women, children and migrant workers limited the capacity of cross-border communities to overcome the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictive measures and lower incomes have also led to the deterioration of relations between the different border communities, thus negatively impacting social cohesion at the border area, increasing the level of inequality and uncertainty and, consequently, leading to increased tension over access to resources which may inadvertently lead to increased irregular and unsafe migration.
To combat these trends, the IOM-UNDP seed funding initiative trained local authorities in integrated COVID-19 safe border management approaches that engaged local communities for successful and participatory decision-making processes.
This project is part of the IOM-UNDP seed funding initiative to fast-track joint response to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
The objective of the initiative was to support both local authorities, including border officials and the wider cross-border community, in order to address the generalized vulnerability of border communities and the negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19. In combating these trends, the initiative aimed to engage local communities for successful and participatory decision-making processes, with the goal of easing community tensions and enabling community resilience and livelihoods despite economic pressures brought on by COVID-19.
The project carried out workshops and training to encourage people to design business ideas that would improve their income-generating activities, generate savings and access credit. By mobilizing trade unions, transport associations and community and worship leaders to raise awareness of COVID-19 preventive measures and the promotion of social cohesion, the initiative trained moto taxi drivers and engaged community leaders in local radio broadcasts to create dialogue between local authorities and border officials with community members for participatory local decision making. The project trained local authorities including border officials and community leaders on safe and integrated border management during COVID-19, including the protection of vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking, COVID-19-safe border management procedures and facilitating community engagement and social cohesion to reduce community tension.
Key successes or innovative factors, good practices and lessons learned (if available)
The initiative underlined the importance of migration and cross-border trade between neighbouring countries for economies, social cohesion and sustainable development of border regions. Mobility restrictions had far-reaching consequences local economies in Guinea that include, for example, the unavailability of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and herbicides, which are essential to keep food systems running and malnutrition at bay. They also increased social unrest and community conflict over livelihoods and access to resources. COVID-19 has negatively impacted mobility and development, pushing often-excluded groups further behind. For example, women traders were disproportionately affected by the border restrictions, with 90% of women interviewed through this project reporting that their income was significantly reduced due to the pandemic. At the same time, the joint intervention highlighted the opportunities of inclusive policies and integrated border systems to enable safe and regular migration in line with health recommendations and thereby benefit border communities to recover better from the pandemic.
Border communities, local authorities