Building from previous Actions in Western Africa: climate change, migration and data management in Benin

Since the beginning of the century, Benin has been a country of transit for migrants. In the past 20 years, the number of international migrants have doubled and, in 2020, around 390,000 migrants were living in this Western African country. This increase can be explained by the country’s political stability and growing economic outlook. However, the Government of Benin is facing new challenges related to climate change and migration and has requested assistance from MIEUX+ to identify solutions and recommendations for their national planning. On May 28  MIEUX+ organised a first webinar to discuss the opportunities and limitations of quantifying this phenomenon in Benin.

Climate change and migration in Benin

Beninese authorities are increasingly concerned about environmentally induced migration as the country is in a region prone to natural disasters and environmental degradation as well as home to poor and vulnerable populations. Currently, the nation does not rely on legal and normative mechanisms that provide specific assistance and protection to environmental migrants. In addition to this challenge, like many countries in the world and in West Africa, Benin lacks quantitative evidence on the type, dimension and structure of environmentally-induced migratory flows.

These concerns led the General Directorate for the Environment and Climate (DGEC) of the Ministry of Living Conditions and Sustainable Development and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Analysis (INSAE) to request assistance from MIEUX+ earlier this year to strengthen the authorities’ knowledge on data management capacities and policy development.

Building from previous Actions

Western and Central Africa remains the biggest portfolio of MIEUX projects since the creation of the initiative in 2009. It is not the first time that MIEUX has worked with Beninese partners. The West Africa II Action contributed to the development of dialogue and consultation between Benin, Guinea-Bissau and Togo to enhance action and cooperation at national and regional levels on migration, climate change and environmental issues.

Building from the findings and recommendations of this past Action, Benin II is taking stock of this knowledge to facilitate the creation of a baseline study on environmentally induced migration, provide recommendations on tools for data collection and produce a background paper on mainstreaming environmentally induced migration in Benin. This is done in collaboration with the DGEC and the INSAE as well as experts from France, Belgium, Switzerland and local experts.

The need for data management

In the context of this Action, a webinar on data management about/focusing on environmental migration took place on 28 May 2021 and counted with the participation of 22 attendees from Beninese authorities. Together with experts from the INSAE, experts from the Hugo Observatory of the University of Liège in Belgium, participants discussed the possibilities and limitations of collecting and analysing data on migration and climate change in Benin.

As highlighted by Ms Michelle Yonetani (Senior Policy Officer, Office of the Special Advisor to the High Commissioner on Climate Action, ‎UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency) during the event: "A generic good practice for any type of data collection exercise is to disaggregate by gender, age and other specificities in order to include marginalised population and potential vulnerabilities".

The INSAE also emphasised the importance of initiatives such as MIEUX+ to respond to important needs such as data management for environmentally induced migrants because it functions as a vehicle to facilitate the exchange and dialogue with other experts on the topic, developing capacities and knowledge to partner countries.

Next steps

Following this webinar, the MIEUX+ team will organise further activities to support the INSAE in collecting, managing and analysing data on environmentally-induced migration and the DGEC on including this topic into the national policy planning.

Images from the webinar (28/05)