West Africa

Building the capacity of children and young people to raise awareness of the risks and opportunities linked to mobility in their communities and supporting them to raise their voices.

What we are trying to change

There are an estimated 2.3. million children and young people under 19 on the move in West Africa (UNDESA 2015), accounting for over a third of all migrants. This is more than double the global average of migrants in this age group (15%). Most mobility takes place within the region rather than towards another region. Historically, West Africa is a region with free movement and with socio-cultural and identity links between people across different borders. 

Mobility can bring opportunities such as being able to go to school or being able to earn money to buy food, clothes and to pay for school. It can boost confidence and independence.

Migration can also put children and young people at increased risk of violence, exploitation and a lack of access to services. Cultural differences between places of origin and destination can lead to social exclusion and discrimination.

Children and young people must be treated with equality and dignity and their rights should be upheld and respected at all stages, so they can migrate safely if they choose to do so and access the opportunities that movement can bring.

Child-friendly tools made by children

Children and young people from five coastal West African countries involved in the CORAL Project (Project for the Protection of Migrant Children along the Abidjan to Lagos Corridor run by Destination Unknown members) have developed child-friendly tools and methods to raise awareness of children and their communities about the risks and opportunities that mobility can bring. These include pictures, comic books, a television series and a web documentary. 

Read comic

What we are doing

We are working with children and young people on the move and those who accompany them in 5 countries along the corridor from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire and in Senegal, to raise awareness of the risks and opportunities of their mobility and supporting them to raise their voices. Some of these children and young people will be feeding in their experiences and recommendations to discussions during the Global Forum on Migration and Development which will be held in Ecuador in January. They are also helping to define the campaign focus of Destination Unknown in West Africa.

The power of sport and play

In a fun-filled day in November, 165 children affected by mobility in a community in Lagos learned about their rights and interacted through play, games and healthy and fun competition such as board games, football, a dance competition and a skipping rope race. The event was organised by Terre des hommes and the Association of Working Children and Youths with the support of local dance and sports initiatives and is just one example of how Destination Unknown members support integration and human rights education in West Africa. 

Members and partners in West Africa

In each region, we work with a variety of local, national and international youth-led organisations and civil society organisations whose work is grounded in the rights of the child, and which have expertise in child protection, mobility, research and campaigning. Our members work in many different ways to promote and enhance protection and the participation of children and young people.

Take action

Are you interested in being part of Destination Unknown’s network of young people in West Africa?

Do you want to be in touch with other young people and at the heart of developing and driving campaigns so that the rights of children and young people on the move are respected, upheld and protected?

Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

Take action

Regional news

Learnings from West Africa

Countries must work together to ensure children on the move are treated as children with rights and don’t fall through any gaps in protection when they migrate.

Promising practices

Protection in West Africa

Find out about how Terre des Hommes and partners are creating vital protection spaces called Hope Points specifically for children on the move in this region. 

Stay informed