IOM, Harvard Launch Research on Migration Flows in West and Central Africa

Chadian military convoy arriving in Doyaba Transit Centre, Sarh with 2,000 returnees. Photo: IOM/Craig Murphy 

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, are launching a joint research “SEE MIGRATION LIKE WATER: An Analysis of IOM Flow Monitoring Survey Data on Migration Flows in West and Central Africa”. The report analyzes migration flows and migrants’ vulnerabilities on their journeys within and from West and Central Africa.  

The West and Central Africa region provides rich evidence of dynamic migratory patterns, including long histories of diverse intraregional and interregional migration flows. The complexity and rapidly evolving characteristics of mobility in the region, combined with the emergence of new challenges and risks, such as COVID-19, aggravate risks along migration journeys and leave many migrants unprotected.  

The report calls for a comprehensive and contextualized understanding of migrants’ vulnerabilities across the most popular West and Central African migration routes – examining risk and protective factors at the individual, household, community, and structural level. 

The study is based on IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) flow monitoring survey data gathered from over 110,000 migrants, across 38 transit points in 7 countries in West and Central Africa. In addition, qualitative data from expert interviews conducted in 2020 shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on migrants’ journeys and their well-being.  

This joint research is part of the wider effort of IOM to collect and disseminate sound empirical data on migration dynamics and vulnerabilities in order to support progress towards enhancement of safe migration, including to support the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and realize the migration-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets.  

The report is currently available in English, while the French version will be available in May 2021.  

Click here to listen to the discussion on the report’s findings from IOM and Harvard researchers.


For more information, please contact:  


Safa Msehli; Email:  

Kennedy Omondi; Email: 



Veronica Lewin; Email: