OIM SénégalSenegal

Migration au Sénégal: Profil National 2009


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Number of pages : 148
Format : Softcover
ISBN: 978-92-9068-564-7
Language of Publication: French
Year of Publication: 2009

Senegal, historically considered mainly as a country of destination in the West African region, has now also become a country of emigration due to increasingly difficult living conditions at home and the successful migration experience of earlier Senegalese emigrants to most developed African countries, as well as to Europe and the United States.

Immigration, though less significant, still exists but has become essentially transit migration. Indeed, because of its geographical position, emigration candidates, particularly from West Africa, transit through Senegal as they head further north to Maghreb countries, or to travel by sea or air to Europe.

According to the United Nations Population Division, the net rate of migration per 1,000 people registered a negative trend during the 1995–2000 (–2.2) and 2000–2005 (–1.9) periods. The estimates for 2005–2010 seem to confirm this downward trend, with a rate of –1.7 (UNPD, 2008).

Immigration into Senegal

In 2001, the stock of immigrants numbered 126,204 people, that is 1.2 per cent of the total population (Senegalese Household Survey (ESAM II), 2001) and 220,208 in 2005, that is 2 per cent of the total population (UNPD, 2009).

The immigrants mainly come from Guinea (39%), Mauritania (15%), Guinea-Bissau (11%), Mali (8%), France (8%), Cape Verde (4%), the Gambia (3%), Morocco (2%) and Burkina Faso (1%) (DRC, 2007).

Family reunification appeared to be among the main reasons for immigration in 2001 since 51.4 per cent of immigrants indicated that they had come to the country for family reasons (ANSD, 2004).

According to the 2001 Senegalese Household Survey (ESAM II), about one third of foreigners in Senegal (31.8%) immigrated for economic or work-related reasons. Some 86,688 foreigners of labour force age out of the total of 126,054 in 2001, that is those in the 15 to 64 year-old age bracket, representing 55.9 per cent, declared that they had an occupation, while 11.2 per cent were seeking employment (ANSD, 2004). During the 2001 Senegalese Household Survey II, 34.2 per cent were estimated to be engaged in trade; 26.4 per cent in agriculture and 15.4 per cent in production and processing; 55.5 per cent were illiterate.

Senegalese emigration

According to data available at the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (based on 2000 Census Round Data), the stock of Senegalese emigrants is estimated at 479,515. The key destination countries are the Gambia (20%), France (18%), Italy (10%), Mauritania (8%), Germany (5%) and Ghana (5%) (DRC, 2007).

The 2001 ESAM II shows that 68 per cent of emigrants were aged between 15 and 34 years; 94 per cent were active emigrants in the 15 to 54 year-old age bracket.

In 2000, close to 68 per cent of emigrants moved abroad in search of a better or new job. This was particularly the case for skilled workers, who represented 24.1 per cent of the emigrant stock abroad (Dia, 2006). For the same year, 17.7 per cent of the population with a higher level of education emigrated (Docquier and Marfouk, 2005). The brain drain phenomenon seems to be confirmed by the figures provided by Clemens and Petterson (2007): 51 per cent of Senegalese doctors and 27 per cent of nurses emigrated, mainly to France, during the 1995–2005 period.

Since the 1980s, the Casamance conflict has generated much internal displacement and thousands of Senegalese refugees have fled to the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, in particular. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Senegalese refugee population virtually doubled between 2005 and 2006: it increased from 8,671 refugees in 2005 to 15,163 in 2006. In 2007, they numbered 15,896, about 95 per cent of whom were based in the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau (HCR, 2008). Since the end of 2004, a ceasefire has been established between the State and rebel forces of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) to make room for peace negotiations. Sporadic conflicts are however noted, leaving the civilian populations of the Casamance region in a permanent situation of insecurity.

Factors leading to migration

Individual poverty, calculated on the basis of a poverty line corresponding to the consumption of 2,400 calories per person per day, declined according to the 2001 ESAM II, from 67 per cent in 1995 to 57 per cent in 2001 (ANSD, 2004) and 50.6 per cent in 2005 (MEF, 2007c). However, the Survey on the Perception of Poverty in Senegal (EPPS) conducted in 2001, and using the same sample as the 2001 ESAM II, shows that 66 per cent of households consider themselves poor (ANSD, 2002).

Climate change and the deterioration of the environment (progression of desertification and rainfall-related problems) lead to a reduction in agricultural yields. Rural depopulation thus increases since it has become increasingly difficult to live from agriculture. Furthermore, the rural areas lack administrative, health and cultural infrastructures.

Growing urbanization has thus been observed with a rate of 39 per cent in 1988 (ANSD, 1993) and 40.7 per cent in 2001 (ANSD, 2004). A huge portion of the active population is concentrated in the cities, and the unemployment rate was estimated at 17.1 per cent in the urban areas in 2002 and 9.8 per cent in the rural areas (ANSD, 2006). Unemployment particularly affects youths under 35 years old, 30 per cent of whom are unemployed (World Bank, 2007).

As a result of this situation, and in a bid to find better living conditions, the populations are tempted to venture to richer countries, where other Senegalese before them were able to meet their families’ needs and invest in the real estate and trade sectors.

Statistics show that emigration is often a community strategy for survival. Thus, in two out of five cases, the decision to emigrate is taken by the head of the household, through consultation with the parties concerned, by relatives outside the household, by a person abroad or by an employer, who almost always (in 93 % of cases) pays for the travel costs (ANSD, 2004).

Apart from these economic considerations, the conflict in Casamance has also resulted in much internal displacement and thousands of Senegalese refugees. Sporadic conflicts continue to occur, leaving the region in a permanent situation of insecurity, and preventing the return of these displaced persons.

The consequences of migration on Senegalese society

The transfer of funds by Senegalese emigrants contributes immensely to the income of households with an expatriate family member. The funds received from abroad have contributed to increasing the Senegalese per capita income by close to 60 per cent compared with households that do not receive remittances from abroad (Diagne and Diane, 2008). According to interviews undertaken by the IOM Dakar Office with resource persons of some banks and financial structures in the Dakar region, close to 50 per cent of remittances are used for current consumption, compared with 25 per cent for precautionary savings, 20 per cent for real estate investments and less than 5 per cent for productive investment (IOM, 2007). The darker side of emigration is that it deprives Senegal of human resources that would have contributed to its development. Indeed, between 1997 and 2001, 46 per cent of emigrants had a job before leaving, while the unemployed represented 29 per cent. Moreover, 68 per cent of emigrants were between 15 and 34 years old (ANSD, 2004). In 2000, 17.7 per cent of higher education graduates emigrated (Docquier and Marfouk, 2005). During the 1995–2005 period, 678 doctors, that is 51 per cent of doctors, trained in the country, and 695 nurses, that is 27 per cent of nurses, trained in the country also emigrated (Clemens and Petterson, 2007).

The policy framework and migration management challenges

Despite the size of regular and irregular migration flows, Senegal has neither a formal migration policy nor a structure dedicated to the migration issue for determining and implementing the national migration policy. Migration management is entrusted to various ministries and development actors, carrying out individual actions defined by their mandates. The lack of coordination in migration management creates confusion concerning the actors’ areas of action. However, some actions have been undertaken, as outlined below.

As regards the management of legal migration, agreements for concerted migration management with France, Spain and Italy were adopted in 2006 and 2007.These agreements deal with all aspects of migration: regular or legal migration; irregular or illegal immigration; and development or co-development migration.

With regard to the fight against illegal migration, the Government of Senegal is trying to coordinate and promote initiatives for the employment of youths and women, in order to step up their activity and income with a view to curbing the attraction of emigration. The five programmes considered as the Senegalese Government’s main channels of action are as follows: (i) the National Action Fund for Employment (FNAE); (ii) the National Fund for Youth Promotion (FNPJ); (iii) the Agency for the Execution of Works of Public Interest (AGETIP); (iv) the Project for the Promotion of Rural Micro-businesses (PROMER); and (v) the Labour Service within the Directorate of Employment.

The Government of Senegal also seeks to incorporate the migration issue in development plans. Thus, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP 2006–2010) envisages various strategies relating to migration: job promotion by involving emigrants in the development of communities; improved labour management; the establishment of an effective system for managing and monitoring the Senegalese population living abroad; the strengthening of programmes for the social and economic integration of youths; promotion of the rehabilitation and reintegration of repatriates and displaced persons; and improved refugee management strategies.

The Government of Senegal, with the support of national and international partners, instituted three programmes to develop the skills of Senegalese emigrants in view of the country’s development. These programmes are the Migration for Development in Africa programme (MIDA–Senegal), in partnership with IOM; the Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) project, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme; and the Co-development Initiative (by the Senegalese President’s Office).

Data gaps

In Senegal, information is not easily accessible because administrative sources are not often operational. Even though they exist, they are not currently used to produce statistical data, notably because of the shortage of material and human resources required to process the gathered information. Moreover, the confidential nature of some of the data makes them inaccessible.

Data are irregular and provided sporadically since they result from ad hoc household surveys and population censuses. Besides, these surveys and censuses only partially cover concerns about migration and are still very general since they do not target this theme exclusively.

Inconsistencies have been observed between data on the same topic depending on the source, because of the different definitions and methods of calculation used.

An initiative aimed at improving the data used for development programmes is being implemented. It consists of the programme for the implementation of the Plan for Statistics of Senegal (SDS 2008–2013). The activity programme of the SDS 2008–2013 brings together survey projects, population and housing censuses and studies on the reorganization and restructuring of statistical components. These activities include projects aimed at helping to enhance the visibility of migration management at the national level.