Improving Migration and Displacement Policies in East Africa

The Challenge

Member States of the Regional Economic Community, IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) - Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda - collectively hosted over four million refugees and nearly 13 million internally displaced people in 2022. These countries function simultaneously as countries of origin, transit and destination for migrants and refugees. With migration increasingly becoming a key phenomenon in the region, policymakers need accurate migration and displacement statistics for systematic and harmonized migration management. However, limited data, capacity and policy coherence pose challenges to migration management in the IGAD region.

The Approach

IGAD coordinates its efforts through its Regional Migration Policy Framework (RMPF) which is aligned to global frameworks such as the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) or the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). This approach includes a commitment to collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated migration and displacement data.  

Pertinent activities include the establishment of the IGAD Regional Migration and Displacement Data Technical Working Group, workshops for harmonizing migration and displacement statistics and programs to enhance data accessibility. Collaborative efforts with partners and member states aim to improve data quality and comparability.

The Benefits

Policymakers at the regional, national and subnational levels are provided with the necessary evidence-base to make informed and targeted policy decisions, and to track their implementation. A planned IGAD online migration portal will serve as a valuable tool for understanding migration patterns, modelling future scenarios and designing comprehensive policies based on them.



Collective internally displaced people in 2022 in Member States of the Regional Economic Commmunity, IGAD.

The context

Migration and displacement within the IGAD region are driven by various factors such as: economic opportunities, political instability, conflict, environmental challenges and demographics. This results in substantial movements of migrants, refugees and forcibly displaced populations. Accurate and comparable migration and displacement statistics are crucial for understanding migration patterns, formulating evidence-based policies, tracking progress and promoting cooperation. IGAD aligns its efforts with global frameworks such as the GCM which emphasizes the collection and utilization of accurate and disaggregated data to inform evidence-based policies.

However, limited availability and utilisation of quality and timely data capacity and policy coherence pose challenges in many IGAD Member States.  

A graph with green and orange barsDescription automatically generated

Regional Migration Policy Framework

Addressing migration and displacement in the IGAD region is a process guided by the RMPF, aligned with the African Union's continental Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) and its Plan of Action. The RMPF aims to protect the well-being of migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees while harnessing the developmental potential of migration. Strategic area 8 of the RMPF specifically focuses on strengthening the collection and analysis of migration and displacement data.

How was the use case implemented?

IGAD formulated the IGAD Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics (IRSDS). This strategy aims to ensure the availability of high-quality data and indicators, comparability of regional statistics, effectiveness of the regional statistical system, raised statistics profile and enhanced statistical capacity in the IGAD region. To achieve these goals, IGAD collaborates with various partners including IOM, ILO, UNCDF, Statistics Sweden, African Union Commission and GIZ. Jointly implemented by GIZ and IGAD, the 'Improving Migration and Displacement Policies in the IGAD Region (SIMPI II)' project, for example, aims to enhance the effective implementation of this approach.

Initiatives include workshops for harmonizing concepts and definitions (e.g. who is considered a migrant), programs to enhance data accessibility, consultative processes on migration management, technical meetings, webinars, online workshops, strengthening national migration and displacement data working groups and producing migration statistics reports.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive overview of migration statistics, the first edition of the IGAD Migration Statistics Report was developed with a specific focus on labour migration and irregular migration.

Examples of insights and recommendations from the report:

  • Strengthen the statistical system at IGAD level and support Member States in producing reliable and timely data on labour and irregular migration.
  • Facilitate the use of harmonised definitions, concepts and indicators and methodologies relating to labour migration and irregular migration.
  • Harness the contribution made by the migrant workers in economic development.

The data used for the report spans a decade from 2010 to 2019 and is regularly updated to capture current statistics and trends in migration. The data collection process took place from November 2019 to June 2020, involving initiatives such as the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP) in Africa (coordinated by the African Union Commission (AUC), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)), and data from the IOM-AU Horn of Africa Initiative on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling.

National Statistical Offices (NSOs) in the IGAD region have been assigned the role of coordinating national statistical systems to produce official statistics and make them accessible to governments, the public and stakeholders. A lack of coordination and standardized methodology for migration data among different data producers meant that there were gaps in the records these offices produced and so the estimates presented in the report were augmented by necessary corrections and supplementation from other sources, mainly the United Nations.

Institutional mechanisms for data driven decisions

The establishment of an IGAD Regional Migration and Displacement Data Technical Working Group provides a valuable opportunity to improve collaboration, data quality and comparability of migration statistics within the region.

The technical working groups comprise of key focal points on migration and displacement data from line ministries and NSOs. A terms of reference (TOR) was developed for the group and adopted by its members. IGAD serves as the secretariat for coordination and is responsible for harmonization of concepts, methods and definition. A 4th regional workshop of the group on the Harmonization, Improvement of Production and Utilization of Migration Data was held recently.

Throughout the data collation process, a series of technical meetings and online validation workshops were conducted. During the 2nd such meeting in August 2021 in Addis Ababa, the report was presented and Member States provided input on the findings. Building on these collaborative efforts, the IGAD Migration Statistics Report was officially launched during the 3rd meeting in April 2022 in Djibouti.

A group of men standing around a tableDescription automatically generated

How can better data contribute to better policy?

By providing a comprehensive database and utilizing simulation models, the migration statistics report becomes a valuable tool for understanding migration patterns, running future migration scenarios and designing comprehensive policies in various migration-related sectors, such as labour, education, employment and development.

Ultimately, the Migration Statistics Report aims to ensure that Member States and IGAD have access to accurate, reliable and timely migration data for informed decision-making. It contributes to sound governance practices in migration management, including the advancement of the IGAD Free Movement of Persons Protocol adopted in 2021.

Where do we go from here?

IGAD remains dedicated to enhancing the availability and utilization of migration and displacement statistics in the region. IGAD will continue convening the Regional Technical Working Group while simultaneously planning to establish an online IGAD 'one-stop-shop migration' portal. This portal will serve as a centralized platform for uploading, accessing and visualizing migration data and a range of other documents pertinent to migration and displacement.

The 2023 upcoming second edition of the IGAD Migration Statistics Report will cover all aspects of the IGAD Migration Policy Framework. With extensive involvement from Member States, it will emphasize the significance of migration governance and provide policymakers with a comprehensive understanding of migration and displacement dynamics, including education, employment and development.

The successful collaboration and knowledge sharing from the first edition will guide future endeavours. IGAD will strengthen partnerships and engage in ongoing dialogue with Member States.

These initiatives will address the diverse challenges and opportunities associated with migration and displacement in the IGAD region, enabling policymakers to formulate targeted and effective policies and strategies, and to measure progress.  

explore more Use Cases