IOM_ Germany Q&A with two team members of the Migrant Media Network

#MMN – Migrant Media Network featured by IOM – Germany 
written by Olumide Olufemi

Yahya Moro Yapha, a Gambian Diaspora Mentor of #MMN who has had first-hand experience with irregular migration alongside Susanne Bellinghausen, Project Manager for the #Migrant Media Network Project were interviewed by IOM_Germany on their impactful work in raising awareness across Ghana and The Gambia on the risks associated with irregular Migration and the promotion of safe migration pathways. In this Q&A, Moro Yapha talks about his experience which inspired him to become a Gambian activist working with migrants in Germany. Being an activist for migrants in Germany also led him to #MMN where he is a diaspora mentor for the Gambia, doing a lot of amazing work locally at home and in Germany. The project manager, Susanne Bellinghausen also gives an insight on the mission, method and approach of #MMN.

Below is the transcript of the interview:

What is the mission of the Migrant Media Network (#MMN)?

Susanne Bellinghausen: #MMN was created in 2019 to look at how diasporas in Germany share messages with people at home through social media, to combat the spread of misinformation. We do social media trainings for the diaspora, after which they travel for a short time to their home country, talk about their migration experiences—both the positive and negative aspects. By sharing their experiences firsthand, we want to inform people before they migrate, to help them be informed when making the decision to migrate. So even if they migrate irregularly, they know what to expect. Talking to Moro, I learned so many things from his migration experience that a lot of people do not know. We’re trying to develop tools to help the diaspora communicate with people back home, mainly in rural areas, where they may not have access to information due to limited internet access.

What is the #MMN method and approach?

Susanne Bellinghausen: We train diaspora and send them to the countryside to inform multipliers—the elders, the women, and the youth—about migration pathways. Throughout the year, trained diaspora representatives travel to Ghana and Gambia to do awareness raising. In addition, we have teams on the ground in both countries. Our local coordinators run regular “Bantabas” or “Stammtische” a few times a month to reach out to people, have conversations, and distribute the materials we produced. We also have an #MMNofflineAPP through which we share information on how to apply for a visa, for scholarships, and for vocational training at home before leaving. The #MMN team developed a Smart Migration Guide, from which the information for the MMNofflineApp was taken. The Guide covers more details, is very informative and doesn’t require a lot of reading but instead is graphically easy to understand. The trainers transport this material to the people by talking about it. We also work with our “Think Carefully, Move Safely” board game, which we created to have an interactive way to engage people in conversations that can be uncomfortable. It is like snakes and ladders, but with regular and irregular migration pathways.

What do you do as an #MMN Diaspora Mentor for the Gambia?

Moro Yapha: One year ago, I was invited, together with other Gambian activists working with migrants in Germany, to attend a workshop organized by #MMN. I am one of the Gambians who went through the Sahara and the sea, facing so many difficulties. After arriving in Europe, I created my own website to post about my experiences. The most important part of my advocacy is to make people back home aware of the dangers of irregular migration. I post about the untold stories of migration, asylum, and integration. As part of #MMN, I traveled back to Gambia, to Basse (the Upper River Region) where most Gambian migrants come from. We ran workshops with the local population, specifically youth, women, and the elderly. I spoke with them using the Smart Migration Guide about developing smart goals for migration, setting expectations, and what might happen on the journey. With the women, we focused on human trafficking and the exploitation of women along the journey. With the elderly, who are key stakeholders, I spoke about decision-making in migration, the realities and expectations for migration, human trafficking, exploitation of migrants along the journey, life experiences, struggles, and legal conditions of migrants along the journey to reach Europe.

How did your own migration journey prepare you for this role?

Moro Yapha: When I arrived in Europe, I became engaged in activism to raise the awareness of migrants and people back home about irregular migration. I wanted to go home and speak to my people directly, in my own language, about my experience. When I was sent to the Gambia, I was grateful to speak directly to the youth. I did not hesitate. I started from day one, when I packed my bag in the Gambia until I reached Libya, the time I spent time in Libya, how I crossed the sea to reach Italy, my stay in Italy, until I reached Germany. I explained everything to them. People told me I was the first Gambian sent from abroad to speak to them directly about my migration experience. Most people who succeed show off to the community, but they don’t tell the truth. I tell the youth that it is not worth it. I tell them, you are going to school, you can be educated. And if you are educated, it is a global world, so you can apply for studies and scholarships. The workshop with women was very emotional. Most of the women that attended either lost their sons or daughters or family members and shared with me their experiences, about what happened to their loved ones.

How do you frame your discussion about migration with Gambians?

Moro Yapha: When it comes to irregular migration, what we call the “backway” in The Gambia, it is hard to discourage people from going. If you are in Europe, you must be strategic. I am honest and speak to them from my experience. I did not board a plane to come and enjoy. It took me one year of difficulties. Crossing the sea, I could have died. I have two messages—to the diaspora, instead of sending money back home to encourage irregular migration, let’s invest in businesses in the Gambia. You can have a startup, encourage the people at home to get skills through vocational training, and when they are equipped, we can send them money to start a business. If we want to stop or reduce irregular migration, there should be a strategic way for diaspora to come together and develop strategies. These could be financial, advocacy, or other methods. We also need to stop sending photos, posting on Facebook and WhatsApp, that everything is alright, while we are sleeping outside.

The Interview was published in the IOM Germany Diaspora Newsletter December 2022 issue. To read the interview, click on the link below:

#MMN is a project by r0g_agency for open culture & critical transformation based in Berlin and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

#Migration #irregularmigration #MMN #awareness #IOM #smartmigration

In the Loving Memory of Benedictus Agbelom, Rest In Peace

It is with great sadness, shock, and disbelief that we acknowledge – although our hearts still do not understand – that our friend and colleague Benedictus Agbelom passed away today. We loved him dearly and he will be missed so much. We wish his family and friends all the strength possible – he was such a gentle, caring, and kind person. 

Benedictus helped craft our #MMN – Migrant Media Network project in Ghana and the Gambia. He was a great connector for the whole team. With his passion he helped make his country, and in that way the world, a better place. He will be sorely missed by all of us.

the #MMN team

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Bennie Goodbye Booklet [2.93 MB]

Evening of r0g_agency at v2_lab in Rotterdam

The Netherlands-based organization v2, an interdisciplinary center for art and technology, invited the r0g_agency to come and present their work during an event called A Night of r0g. And so on Thursday, May 5th 2022 members of the Berlin-based team were in Rotterdam to talk about the work we do together with our partners worldwide and present our vision of how to create a more just world. 

The event was held in the v2 space, located in the art district of town and was open to the public. It was an exciting moment for r0g to get to address a new audience and tell them about our work and why it deeply matters.  

V2_The evening of r0g_agency poster

The evening’s performance was divided into three stations, each focusing on a different area of r0g’s work.  

The first station’s focus was Peacebuildung. Jaiksana from @platformafrica was there to talk about the work with do together with the #defyhatenow project in Uganda and South Sudan. He discussed why and how misinformation spreads in the refugee camps – and how the #defyhatenow project is working to counter this with fact-checking initiatives. He also talked about using creativity, such as song, to promote peace and used his original song Run as an example of how music can help spread a message of searching for peace and belonging in a way that others can easily relate to. You can listen to his song here

Jaiksana on Stage

The second station looked at Youth Innovation. Wolfgang, who in the past partnered with the r0g_agency in Pakistan on a project that empowered girls to engage with tech, talked about his work, and then ended the night with a performance piece. 

The third station focused on Social Activism. Susi, our co-founder, introduced the #MigrantMediaNetwork project and its mission to spread accurate information and dispel the many rumors that are used by human traffickers and smugglers to entrap people. She was joined on stage by Heike, our graphic designer, and Sara, our editor, who talked about how the #MMN game and materials are designed, both in terms of graphics and text, to have the greatest impact and work to empower people to make safer migration choices.   

The #MMN game was also projected in large-scale on the ground, in order to allow for an immersive experience of playing the migration-based game. 

Overall, the event at v2 was a great opportunity to spread the word about our projects and the work we do to empower others in the areas of peacebuilding, migration, open source, and open knowledge. 

“Harnessing the potential of human mobility”

by Dr.rer.nat. Cosmas Kombat Lambini, #MMN Ghana Migration Advisor – Germany

The United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the ever-increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants’ Day on 4th  December, 2000.  The day is also celebrated globally in honour of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 1990. This commemoration further reminds us of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaiming all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

This blog article seeks to highlight the significance of harnessing the potential of human mobility – The theme of this year’s Migrants Day.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that over 272 million people are currently living outside their country of origin representing 3.5% of the world population.

The importance of human mobility can therefore not be underestimated as the rate of migration keeps increasing astronomically. Available evidence shows that more humans are mobile in this age and time than ever before in history partly due to advances in transportation. Human mobility and connectivity are even made easier and faster due to advances in digital technology and the way migration information is shared through social media and other digital platforms.

Migration in general is not a bad thing

Human mobility and migration in general are not a bad thing as this is inherently part of our history as Homo Sapiens. It is increasingly clear that even in the Covid 19 pandemic and in the wake of alarming climate risks the rate of human mobility keeps soaring globally.

The numerous youth from African countries who on a daily bases risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans to Europe demonstrates this point that we cannot completely stop human mobility.

Today’s celebration of Migrants should serve as an opportunity to reflect on Human Mobility and how decision makers, Governments, Non-Governmental Organisations, private sector actors, academia, and people’s movement could harness the potential of mobility by appreciating the enormous contributions of migrants’ knowledge, networks, skills, and cultures to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals and strengthening resilience of our global society rather than the often negativity  and prejudice associated with migration especially in the global north by some section of the population.

Social Media – key driver of human mobility

One key solution to harnessing this potential of migration is by advocating for free choice to migrate. This free will should be based on equitable distribution of economic opportunities among youth and vulnerable groups who are mostly prone to migrate and affirming to our common commitment to safer and dignified mobility for all people. This might sound as a mirage but if there is equity in distribution and local economic opportunities are provided to most youth, this could go a long way to change human mobility narrative especially in most African countries.

A key driver of human mobility in our digital world is the use of social media in spreading false and fake information to potential migrants. Harnessing the potential of human mobility should start with providing reliable migration information to migrants to freely choose to safely migrate and promoting economic, social and political opportunities to the youth who are mostly at the centre of human mobility.

The #MMN project is one example of a sustainable project that seeks to enhance safer human mobility and creating economic opportunities for potential migrants to decide to migrate or not migrate based on available local opportunities.




  1. Harnessing migration – Sustainable Goals
  2. Harnessing the potential of migration | United Nations Development Programme (

Women paving ways for a violence-free future for women by creating safe spaces.

According to a 2021 World Health Organization Report,, at least one in every three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. In conflict and post-conflict settings, incidences of violence against women and girls (VAWG) are exacerbated, resulting in increased adverse social, economic, health and psycho-social effects. In an attempt to prevent and respond to the occurrence of VAWG in humanitarian settings, women and self-organized groups are working to create safe spaces for women and girls.

As commemorated by UN Women every year, this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women had the Theme ‚ ‘Orange the World-End violence against women now’. The 16 days of activism were observed from the 25th of November to the 10th of December 2021. During this time, UN Women urged the world to build on new actions and strengthen its commitments for a violence-free future against women. 

In our monthly series of “Women Empowering Women “, the Migrant Media Network (#MMN) hosted its first edition of the diaspora meet-up in Berlin, Charlottenburg. The discussion that marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women centered on women in migration with a theme ‘Creating safe spaces for migrant women ‘.

The event featured two female activists; Isatou Barry, a trainer and FGM activist with Terre des Femmes and Jennifer Kamau, co-Founder and women rights activist of the International Women Space* Berlin. Both of whom are active speakers on violence against women and empowering women. The two-hour discussion centered around the causes and effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), violence against women and girls, women’s rights in migration and asylum policies.

A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes FGM as an international human rights violation and shows that female genital mutilation has no health benefits but harms girls and women in ways such as chronic genital infections, severe menstrual cramps, painful sexual intercourse and dysfunction, complications during childbirth as well as depression and trauma. Most – if not all – traditional circumcisers have no medical background. They apply old, traditional techniques, leading to the death of some girls/women during the procedure. 

Refugees and migrants have not been able to achieve sufficient self-reliance. With this in mind, there is a need for refugees and migrant women to have access to jobs and educational opportunities to enable them to defend themselves against violence, sexism, racism, the violence of the asylum system and migration policies by documenting, making visible, and publishing their stories in their own words. This will also enable them to build their livelihoods.

“We are fed up with people speaking about us and not with us -women’s resistance is often oppressed, and women’s history hidden or ignored”, Jennifer Kamau of the International Women Space (IWS) elaborated, adding that IWS focuses more on asylum policies and what effects the policies in place have on migrant women.

According to a recent study conducted by Terre des Femmes approximately 70,000 girls ( and women in Germany have been genitally mutilated. Isatou Barry, a trainer with the organization- a violence-free women-led organization- says they focus on implementing measures on documented cases in Germany to end the harmful practice. They are doing this by conducting community engagements, especially on FGM literacy, by incorporating men in trainings to equip them better and help them understand the consequences of the harmful practice against women and girls.


Both speakers asked for more dialogues on women’s rights and violence against issues affecting women such as asylum policies, FGM, sexual harassment and rape, noting that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that has been perpetuated for decades. They furtherurged astand against rape culture” each case, according to them, is unique to the cultural sensitivities and barriers of each community. Isatou Barry observed that; in many cultures, being shamed and stigmatized for standing up against abuse can isolate an individual from their community. For example, a non-circumcised girl is excluded in the societies of circumcised girls.

They also recommended teaching the younger generation and learning from them should serve as an example for them to shape the way they think about gender, respect and human rights. “Start conversations about gender roles early, and challenge the traditional features and characteristics assigned to men and women,” said Isatou Barry.

Jennifer Kamau emphasized the importance of listening and believing the survivors. “When a woman shares her story of violence, she takes the first step to breaking the cycle of abuse. It’s therefore, on all of us to give her the safe space she needs to speak up and be heard”. She added that women on the move need gender-sensitive migration and asylum policies. The specific needs of migrant women and girls can only be addressed through gender-sensitive migration and asylum policies, including specific protection and support mechanisms 

In conclusion, Jennifer stressed that migrant and refugee women in Europe face particular challenges, including violence, difficulties in access to justice, a likelihood to fall into precarious situations, risks of abject poverty and social exclusion. Migrant refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls also often face double discrimination. They are sometimes restricted within their communities by cultural codes, customs, religion or tradition and by different stereotypes and institutional barriers in host countries. This is often challenging because they are perceived as different from European culture(s).

The Migrant Media Network (#MMN) monthly series of “Women Empowering Women “is an initiative by our Gambian/ diaspora community manager Nyima Jadama, our women and migration expert ‘coordinator. This blog aims to tell stories of women in migration, especially from The Gambia, focusing on irregular migration.

#MMN meetup: Women and Migration

The Migrant Media Network is hosting a meetup on the 24. November 2021 from 18-20hrs, CET that focuses on the experiences of African diaspora communities in Germany. 

This meetup will focus on women and migration, specifically on how to create safe spaces for migrant women. The meetup will take place at the r0g_agency office, Knobelsdorffstr.22, in Berlin-Charlottenburg. 

The event will feature talks by Jennifer Kamau, co-founder of International Women* Space and Isatou Barry, an activist fighting against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. 

To join us, please send us an email at or message us via Instagram or FB. Registration is open until Monday, November 15th. The meetup is open to anyone interested in the topic; you do not need to be a member of a diaspora community to attend. 

2G rules will apply: you must either be fully vaccinated against covid-19 or have proof of recovery to attend. 

We look forward to meeting you!

Event Link :

#MigrantMediaNetwork Radio Program – The Gambia

By Lamin Sanneh – #MMN Local Coordinator The Gambia – West Coast Region

According to a joint report by the government of the Gambia and the International Organization for Migration, The Gambia is a country of out-migration. That means that migration is one directional: people migrant out of The Gambia, but people do not migrant to The Gambia. The Gambia has around 2 million citizens and of those, about 140,000 Gambians live abroad. That means that 7% of Gambians have left The Gambia.   

This is a major concern for the Gambia. The surge of young people risking their lives to reach Europe has serious implications, both on the lives of those risking the journey and on communities back home.  

Irregular migration is a phenomenon that is often talked about in The Gambia, yet accurate information about irregular migration is often not available. Attempting to migrate irregularly across the Sahara and towards the Mediterranean is a perilous journey that can easily end tragically. So what makes people choose this option? Are they aware of all that can go wrong? Where did they find their information and did they fact-check it? Are they aware of options for success in The Gambia? 

These are important questions to answer, and this is where the Migrant Media Network comes in.  

#MMN – the Migrant Media Network is a project of the r0g_agency, a Berlin-based nonprofit. The project is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

#MMN’s aim is to disseminate accurate, life-saving information about (ir)regular migration through social media and through community outreach programs, in order to help people make informed decisions about migration. 

One way that #MMN does this is through a radio talk show. Radio plays a pivotal role in disseminating information to a larger audience. It is especially good at getting information to communities that are harder to reach in person due to distance and a poorly maintained network of roads. 

#MMN Radio – The Gambia serves as a platform to discuss migration issues, in native languages, and in the specific context of The Gambia. 

We hope you will listen in and share it with your friends and family!

Implementing #MMN In Southern Nigeria

Photo credit: Chimereogo Nwoke

With a population of approximately 200,000,000 people, which is expected to double within the next 30 years, Nigeria continues to assert its primacy within the sphere of international politics, demographics and sovereignty. The most populous nation and biggest economy in Africa, the West African nation is a major player in the wave of heightened transnational movements sweeping through the globe. A 2018 study by Pew Research Centre identifies Nigeria as being a major source of immigrants to the EU. With over 400,000 Nigerian born immigrants living in the EU, Norway, and Switzerland, the country easily tops the chart of sub-Saharan immigrants in that region. Indeed, a study by the Washington-based Think tank – Pew Research Center – shows that 74% of Nigerians are seeking to leave the country, either passively or actively. Knowing exactly how many Nigerians explore irregular migration routes is difficult, as many end up in Libya and other North African countries undocumented, while some lose their lives in the dangerous journey through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean. Moreover, a significant number do not correctly declare their origin. 

However, it is estimated that between 2014 and 2016, way over 50,000 Nigerians crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Another source shows that over 80,000 Nigerians arrived by sea in Italy from 2013 to 2018. Little wonder the EU listed Nigeria among the five priority countries where efforts to regulate irregular migration must be intensified. Even as thousands continue to depart Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries in search for an often-elusive promised land – Europe, the spotlight is beginning to shine more and more on the complexities of the journey, as well as the vicissitudes of removal, return and repatriation. Since 2017, thousands of irregular and undocumented immigrants have been returned to Nigeria from North Africa and Europe. Many of these returnees carry with them a burden of physical and psychological injuries. In addition to their scars and trauma is the burden of stigma, disorientation and poverty. #MMN will take these intricacies into effect in the structuring of social, educational and economic programs and systems for a multi-faceted approach to migration in Nigeria. 

Interestingly, as Nigeria has been identified as a primary source of irregular migrants to Europe, it has been established that a huge percentage of these emigrants are from Edo State. Practically, there are already a number of NGOs working in the region, many of which are focused on providing support to returnees, while others mobilize returnees help sensitize communities on the realities of irregular migration. Many of these organizations and bodies are domiciled in Benin City, the capital of Edo state. Following a baseline study, #MMN Nigeria will potentially focus on peri-urban and rural communities close to Benin City. Targeting younger people in schools, churches, and networks, #MMN will use already produced and tested guides and kits, adapted to suit the local context to work with and alongside community members. We will equally identify partners and resource persons for collaboration and sharing of resources. 

Article by Chikezirim Nwoke

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Diaspora Youth as agents of transformative change in Northern Ghana

By Cosmas Kombat Lambini-#MMN Migration Expert

  • Ghana Irregular Migration Trends and Dynamics 

Ghana is located on the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa and occupies an area of about 92,099 sq. miles.  It shares boarders to Togo (eastern side), Cote d’Ivoire (western side), and Burkina Faso (northern side). Ghana has just carried out its latest population and housing census last month. This is an exercise organised every ten years. The current estimated total population according to the United Nations World Population Dashboard ( stands at 31.7 million with young people making for one third of the population and a growth rate of 2.0% per year. 

Although Ghana is often cited as a rising star in Africa due to its major strides toward democracy under a multi-party system and a low middle-income country status due to national and regional economic reforms. There are however rising social and economic inequalities undermining transformational change and sustainable development as well as threatening social cohesion. These inequalities are pervasive and increasing particularly between men and women and the north and the south of the country. 

Migration, specifically irregular migration out of Ghana is one of the biggest socio-economic challenges the country is faced with. Ghana has been a major migrant-producing country for several decades. About 3% of Ghana’s population have emigrated since 2014, mostly to Europe and America due to uneven development and development trajectory failing particularly the young people for perceived quality of life. 

It is well documented that an estimated 1000s of migrants from Ghana enter into Europe through illegal sea crossings of the Central, Eastern and Western Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans. According to International Centre for Migration Policy Development (cited in EC, 2004), 50 % of migrants transiting through Agadez in Niger would be from Nigeria, 15 % from Niger, 10 % from Ghana.  Ghanaian youth risk their lives to cross the Sahara-desert and the Mediterranean and Atlantic Seas for better life opportunities in Europe. By so doing they expose themselves to this deadly and dangerous journey. 

Although recent evidence shows that the number of Ghanaian nationals in irregular situations in the EU has remained stable since 2010, with the majority found in Germany (2,090), the UK (620), and Greece (395). 

Ghana is further considered a Tier 2 country as the country does not meet the minimum threshold for the elimination of trafficking and smuggling. Migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons is a serious and growing concern for the Government of Ghana and EU governments, as Ghana is recognised as country of origin, transit, and destination of individuals for the purposes of sexual exploitation, and domestic and commercial labour.

Coupled with this irregular migration is the issue of brain drain, many skilled professionals especially from the health sector have left Ghana to Europe for greener pastures impacting negatively on the quality of life and wellbeing. The country has one of the highest emigration rates for highly skilled workers in Western Africa leading to diminished human capital.

  • Diaspora Social Media Usage as a major driver of irregular migration through misinformation

Social media is a primary source of information for many people. The use of social media has transformed how the youth share and seek travel information in Ghana. For example, the daily use of social media by Ghanaian diaspora youth such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and other forms of online engagements have negatively influenced the youth in Ghana and their perceptions on migrating to Europe. Empirical evidence from the Migration Media Network (#MMN) project alludes to some of these findings. This is especially true for young people between the ages of 15-35 years who constitute larger segment of the population.  It is very common among diaspora youth to send messages and posts to friends and families in Ghana showcasing how life in Europe is very comfortable and how one can easily get rich by just traveling to Euope. Misinformation on how easy and cheap one can easily enter into Europe through irregular routes and quick access to resident permits via marriages are very common stories on social media users from the diaspora. Prospective migrants in Ghana, on the other hand, consider this these type of information on social media as facts and based on this may decide to embark on a vicious journey to Europe though the sea or other irregular migration routes. The increasing usage of social media due to rising access to internet connectivity in Ghana and by diaspora youth have contributed immensely to irregular migration from Ghana to Europe and often cited in recent times as a key driving factor causing increasing rates of irregular migration.

  • Diaspora youth as champions of change and addressing irregular migration

The author of this blog, Cosmas Kombat Lambini comes from Ghana. Although he came to Europe through an Erasmus Mundus programme in International Rural Development ( The author is aware of numerous youths from Northern Ghana who often risk to embark on the voyage to Europe through Agadez in Niger-deserts in Libya and Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans to Europe. Even though Ghana is endowed with numerous natural and human resources with a lot of opportunities that most young people could tap into for national development. The Agricultural sector for example is a major contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the country has vast land for sustainable agricultural development that could be harnessed by the growing youth population as a possible alternative to address irregular migration.

In 2009, the author of this blog, founded the Anoshe Group in Chereponi in Northern Ghana, a farming community where he was born and bred. The group was registered as a Ghanaian enterprise under the Registry General Department and started farming operations in 2010.  The sole vision of the group was to create business opportunities to the youth and women though agribusiness and to reduce rural-urban migration. The group started originally with 50 households and have since grown to 1000 households (1000ha) and operating in five (5) communities in Chereponi District of Ghana. The group received initial seed funding and technical support from Sabab Lou Stiftung-( the Hohenheim University in Stuttgart. 

The Anoshe Group is financially self-sustaining and created several direct and indirect jobs for the youth in the region. The group revenues generated through sales of farm yields and empowerment of vulnerable groups demonstrate that farming as enterprise could mitigate youth migrating to Europe with the needed support offered to them to venture into agribusiness.

In conclusion, this intervention provides evidence that diaspora youth could be positive agents of transformative change based on the rich experience and networks developed in Europe. However, this is only possible with the right individual motivation and appropriate incentives to give back to communities of origin back home in Ghana. 

Contact e-mail:
This blog acknowledges funding from The Migrant Media Network (“Engaging Diaspora and Potential Migrants on Safe Migration and Positive Alternatives”. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author only.

The Gambia in the eyes of a visitor

Author: Peter Narh, #MMN Country coordinator, Ghana.

The luggage of my colleague on the Asky Airlines to The Gambia was delayed. As a result, we were quite bitter the first 2 days of our stay in Banjul, precisely Senegambia. Nothing seemed interesting nor nice to us about The Gambia. In those two days we told time and again our frustrations to Antifa (not her real name) the attendant at the restaurant of the hotel we were staying; frustrations about Asky Airlines, about having to walk 200 meters to the supermarket to buy a bottle of water, about the unavailability of a pressing iron in the hotel, about the cold nights, about almost everything in The Gambia. Antifa would join us to rave about our luggage, but also would intersperse her talk with flashes of pretty smiles and beautiful but sometimes queer gestures with her slender arms, in explanation to us about life in The Gambia. 

After 2 days, my colleague and I resolved that luggage or no luggage life goes. As Ghanaians and the first time in The Gambia, we convinced ourselves that we would enjoy The Gambia as much as we could within the next 4 days more that we had before we would return to Accra. That was when The Gambia began to unfold to us. Our contacts and interactions with people anywhere we went, particularly taxi drivers, became experiences of relief to replace the pain of our delayed luggage. From the unique accent of English language that sounded to us more like Jamaican than African English, through the ubiquitous rasta hairstyle of almost every young man, to the almost unnoticeable Islamness in a country where most people say they are Muslims, The Gambia crept into our hearts as a haven of polite, cool, honest, and open society.

My colleague and I arrived in Senegambia (though Gambians say it is all Banjul) to support the launch of the Migrant Media Network (#MMN) project of r0g_agency for cultural and critical transformation. Supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by r0g agency, the #MMN project aims at providing access to open, reliable, and credible information for The Gambian public, particularly the youth to guide their informed decisions about migration.

Participants at the launch of the #MMN in The Gambia; 29 April 2021

r0g agency seeks to establish itself through #MMN as a leading open-source technology-based organisation for discussions and community work towards encouraging safe and regular migration. It also encourages the development of positive alternatives of youth careers in their own homes. Inasmuch as migration and #MMN were full in our minds in The Gambia, my colleague and I made space well enough in our schedules to immerse ourselves in our new environment; we did not regret! 

Both in and out migration seemed to be a big economy in The Gambia. On a couple of visits that my colleague and I made to the Banjul International Airport within 3 days in search of our lost luggage, I noticed on each visit that majority of travellers were young men and women (the youth). It was the same observation at the National Public Health Laboratories at Kotu, where my colleague and I went twice for our Covid-19 test results when we were about returning to Accra. There at the Kotu, just like at the Banjul International Airport, we met a population of Gambians waiting for their Covid-19 test results as well. Again, here at the Kotu, about 90% of this population we met was youth. One gentleman told us he was travelling to Finland, and another to the United Kingdom.

In the same measure, immigration to The Gambia was to me a high phenomenon. It appeared that a lot of non-Gambians visit The Gambia frequently. On our daily trips to Ali Baba or Caesar’s to enjoy those delicious and nutritious lunch or supper, we met on the streets or saw at corner bars and roadside restaurants, whites and other people you would certainly assume are not Gambian indigenes. In our hotel, a host of these seemingly ‘non-Gambians’ bathed daily in the pool with their Gambian partners. Antifa (our friend at the hotel restaurant) told us once that we had seen nothing really; that in the peak season before Covid-19, the hotel pool would be packed daily with black and white soul mates doing their own thing.

By now, around the 4th day of our visit, The Gambia had come to me as country of friendly access and exit; Gambians exited as they welcomed non-Gambians. It was not surprising at all that our host in The Gambia had assembled a crop of youth who were well experienced in the discourse around the exit and entry spectacle (migration), to be local coordinators for the #MMN project in The Gambia. These young fellows were deep in community work to encourage youth to harness resources at home for livelihoods or to make informed choices if they would necessarily migrate. While my observations at the Banjul International Airport and at the Kotu were scenes that appeared to me that Gambian youth were very mobile and migrate a lot, some of these youth like the new #MMN local coordinators were also resolved to discourage irregular migration, by engaging with communities in participative activities to provide credible information to guide youth in their migration and entrepreneurial decisions.

After 5 days of migration work and observations of social relations in and around Banjul and Senegambia, it was time to cool off the last time with a stroll at the beautiful and decent beach. My colleague and I again were privileged to ride in a cab whose driver was happy to join us on our stroll on the beach and then to take us to the Caesar’s for supper. There at the beach, I joined a group of young men to draw their daily catch of fish, a delightful experience!

Author and ‘friends’ drawing fish at the beach; 02 May 2021

Yet, when we eventually drew the net after 15 minutes of determined efforts, only two big fish and some garbage were caught. The about 20 young men I was drawing the net with were nonetheless not disappointed; certainly, they would try again and again the next day, they told me with conviction. 

Finally, on 03 May 2021 we flew back to Accra. At the Banjul International Airport, I had to pay 1,000 Gambian Dalasi, the same amount we paid when we landed at the same airport 6 days before. I was told the ‘toll’ was a contribution towards the provision of security for everyone. At that moment, I was convinced that Africans are really a communal people; here were Gambians eager and ready to care for and about my security even when I was one foot out of their country; at a price of 1,000 Dalasi though!