Type of practice:
The green reintegration practice was part of the IOM project Mainstreaming environmental and climate considerations into reintegration programming. The objectives of the practice were to (i) facilitate the reintegration of returning migrants through the development of reintegration initiatives that contribute to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and (ii) to reduce forced out-migration resulting from the negative impacts of climate change. The practice took place in Kolda, in Casamance, Senegal. This is the main region of return for beneficiaries of the assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programme of IOM Senegal. Beneficiaries were returning migrants from the village of Medina Touat, having left in search of work. Beyond the returning migrants, the practice also targeted the village community: several young villagers expressed their interest and took part in some of the activities. The community-based approach also supported building a positive perception of the returning migrant in the village and fostering social cohesion. For the success of the piloting, the following elements from a preliminary research guided the practice: field research, returning migrant training, creation of sustainable agricultural projects, community awareness raising, and impact evaluation to identify good practices and recommendations. The practice was focused on 1. bioenergy, 2. biodiversity, and 3. food security. In addition to the pilot community activities, the project focused on the development of global guidelines that seek to provide practical, non-binding guidance to policymakers and practitioners to promote reintegration as an opportunity for addressing climate change and other environmental challenges in countries to which migrants return. A Guidance for mainstreaming environmental and climate considerations into reintegration programming was thus drafted and included as an annex in the IOM Reintegration Handbook (2019).
Benefit and Impact
18 months after the completion of the IOM project, only one direct beneficiary among the 15 returnees abandoned the pilot agroforestry activity and left the village. Community leaders also affirmed that since the start of the project and until the evaluation was completed in July 2021, few young members of the community have left the village. It is hard to attribute this situation to the project impact, but there is a general perception among the community that the green reintegration practice contributed to reducing irregular out-migration from the village.
The green reintegration community project also contributed to preserving the environment of the area of return, by promoting a sustainable exploitation of the forest by the community and reducing deforestation.
The green reintegration practice has been continued in the community action pillar of the IOM project Implementing Global Policies on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement in West Africa (ongoing, until Sept 2022). It supports the reintegration of 50 returning migration and support 50 youth in total from the host community through community-based agroecological and coastal resilience projects, respectively in the Kolda region and in the Ziguinchor region in Senegal.
Solution 1: The duration of this project was extended until 31 December 2019. This extension was done without impacting the project budget and increased the impact of the project with other funding and with further opportunities to link to other regional activities.
Challenge 2: The first plot of land acquired to establish the agricultural perimeter was very wooded and had protected species.
Solution 2: It was decided this first plot of land would be used for other agroforestry activities that do not require open spaces. A new plot of land (although less fertile) was found next to the first one and obtained with compensation fees to the owner.
Challenge 3: Access to water was an issue in the village: a single well was used as a resource for all surrounding villages. It was therefore agreed to have a self-sufficient water source for the practice. However, as the project started during rainy season, it was not recommended to dig a well at that time. Until the start of the dry season, it was agreed with authorities to make a temporary connection to the existing well. Despite the agreement, the well manager requested the connection to be withdrawn. Despite several discussions, no agreement was reached.
Solution 3: The transplant of the plants from the nurseries to the plots was postponed until digging a well was possible.
Challenge 4: As per their religion, women were not allowed to mix or spend time with other men than their partner, which was a challenge for their inclusion in some activities:
• When participants to the project decided to create an Economic Interest Group (EIG), it was not possible to create a gender mixed EIG.
• Focus groups with women on natural resources management could not take place.
Solution 4: Women were also included in training activities, benefitted from agricultural tools and one part of the plot of land was reserved for their use.
Challenge 5: Due to project delays and internal re-organisation of the IOM Dakar Office, the evaluation of the impact of the project could not be carried in the timeframe of the project.
Solution 5: Nevertheless, the evaluation was carried months after the closure of the project in 2020 with different funding.
A project evaluation was carried, and lessons learnt have been documented.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
- Develop a theory of change in order to measure progress, achievement, efficiency and failure during the implementation and the evaluation phases.
- Ensure that every green reintegration community project is gender-sensitive and inclusive.
- Conduct a thorough analysis before the development of the project, to understand the environmental and socio-economic context of the region where it will be implemented and to map the needs and opportunities in terms of interventions to address environmental challenges, in order to support evidence-based decision making.
- Involve community leaders from the initial consultation and development stages of the project, to better understand the community context, ensure community participation and ownership, and build a trust relationship between beneficiaries, implementing partners and other stakeholders.
- Provide, in support of the M&E system of the implementing organization, a community monitoring mechanism and ensure communities have access to the tools and training to operate it.
- For the implementation of a green reintegration practice involving agroforestry activities:
o Ensure there is, or set up, a functioning and permanent irrigation system to not threaten the sustainability of the activity and avoid causing the demotivation or abandonment of some beneficiaries.
o Ensure the project timeline is in line with the agricultural calendar in order to have more immediate impacts in terms of agricultural production.
o Train beneficiaries to understand and master the agricultural value chain.
Supporting green reintegration activities is also an innovative approach to create synergies between climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, green economy, and sustainable reintegration, to empower returnees and promote their contributions to the resilience of their host communities, to mitigate the potentially negative perceptions of the returnees as “failed migrants” and to address the psychosocial and social cohesion dimension of reintegration. As a result, green reintegration can also help address factors that might compel people to (re)migrate away from their areas of return.