TENKODOGO, Burkina Faso, February 27, 2019/ — “I have suffered a lot during my journey and I do not wish that on anyone else. That’s why I joined a theatre group to raise awareness among my brothers and sisters about the dangers of irregular migration. And to help them make informed decisions,” says Abdoul Balima.
Abdoul is a member of the Wati Nooma theatre group (“life is good here” in the Mooré language) which has joined with 24 other community actors from the Central-Eastern Region of Burkina Faso trained by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in community mobilization techniques. The goal is to empower these voices to effectively raise awareness among young people about the dangers of irregular migration.
The two-day training last week (20–21 February 2019) brought together returning migrants, mothers of young migrants, traditional leaders, young entrepreneurs and government representatives. Together, they brainstormed over best strategies for community mobilization to raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration among young people in the region.
The Central-East region is the most affected community by irregular migration in Burkina Faso. In 2018, 56 per cent of migrants assisted to voluntary return to Burkina Faso by IOM came from this region.
“Today, the dangers of irregular migration such as trafficking, smuggling, or even death, are visible in our communities,” Oubda Aristide, traditional leader, said during the training. “As a traditional leader, the first solution is to raise awareness among young people to help them understand that the perilous journey involves serious risks, and that they can build success by exploiting the existing opportunities in their communities, especially in agriculture,” he said.
Migration of young “able-bodies” from the region is more often due to a precarious economic situation, plus social and cultural motivations. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt participatory approach to raising awareness. Community mobilization responds to this need by enabling community members to take ownership of the theme, and by building their capacities to organizing community dialogue sessions to change attitudes and behaviours.
As part of this campaign, the Wati Nooma theatre group will travel throughout the Central-East Region to organize theatre performances, film screenings and community dialogue sessions with the support of trained mobilizers.
The training is part of the #FasoNooma (“Faso is good” in the Mooré language) awareness campaign launched on 25 February 2019 in Tenkodogo, in the presence of the IOM Chief of Mission in Burkina Faso, Abibatou Wane and the Governor of the Central-East Region, Antoine Ouedraogo. The campaign aims to raise awareness among young Burkinabè about the risks of irregular migration and the employment opportunities in the region though forum, football competitions, radio shows and slam contests.
The #FasoNooma campaign is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Burkina Faso, the Italian and Belgian Governments through the project dealing with Youth, Employment and Migration in Central-Eat Burkina Faso, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the project “Safety, Support and Solutions in the Central Mediterranean Route.”
On the 26th Edition of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), IOM will award prizes to young journalists and bloggers who participated in the video production competition on the theme “Youth and Migration” organized in January 2018.