Aligned with the vision and the overall goal of the National Development Plan of The Gambia (2018-2021 which has been extended to 2022) in restoring good governance, respect for human rights, and rule of law, a National Coordination Mechanism on Migration (NCM) was established on 6 November 2019 under the leadership of the Office of the Vice President (OVP). With the establishment of the NCM with technical support from IOM, the Government of The Gambia has put in place a coordination structure to ensure a whole-of-government approach on migration governance.
Pursuant to the launch of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), The Gambia has embarked on effectively aligning the SDGs with its medium-term National Development Plan (NDP) Critical both to the SDGs and NDP is the issue of migration. The Government of The Gambia is committed to ensuring that migrants enjoy their fundamental human, social and economic rights and leveraging diaspora remittances and investments thereby contributing to GCM’s Objectives 19 and 20.
Remittance remains one of the most important forms of development finance in The Gambia. Consequently, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Central Bank of The Gambia and the Migration and Sustainable Development Project in The Gambia (MSDG) convened regular technical roundtables to discuss improvements in policy and practice. At the Fifth Stake in the Nation Forum, 8th January 2022, the Central Bank confirmed that the verified figure for remittance inflows to The Gambia by December, 2021 was $774 million. This represents 62.9% of the county’s GDP.
In December 2020, a milestone was registered through the official launch of the first stand-alone National Migration Policy (NMP) 2020-2030 in The Gambia.Cognizant that migration is a phenomenon that is ever present in the lives of many in The Gambia, the Government demonstrated its commitment to managing migration, addressing challenges of irregular migration and maximizing the benefits of well-managed migration through the NMP. Fundamentally, the launch of the policy document reveals the government’s commitment to abide by both national and international principles related to the plight of migrants.
The NMP is a comprehensive and forward-looking policy that seeks to provide a national framework for progressive migration management system. It addresses all issues around migration and mobility, including but not limited to: border management, diaspora engagement, environment and climate change, forced displacement, internal migration, labour migration, migration data, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, return and reintegration, national-level coordination, and calls for necessary revisions of migration-related legislations to comply with current global norms on migration management.
The NMP is also gender-responsive and stresses the importance of gender mainstreaming throughout the policy document. Specifically, the NMP calls for improved nationwide services for vulnerable female migrants and provides a mechanism for a gender analysis to improve the working conditions of female migrants.
The NMP is envisioned to provide governance on specific and overall aspects of migration policies and framework as a means to manage migration in a way that is beneficial to national development; promotes safe and orderly migration; reduces irregular migration through effective border management; ensures protection of Gambian migrants and immigrants in The Gambia; encourages participation of The Gambian diaspora; promotes effective coordination of migration through collection and analysis of data; develops inclusive mechanisms for return and reintegration; and ensures the principle of gender equity.
The Gambia has made significant strides in improving migration governance in the country by recognizing the importance of having a good migration governance structure aimed at involving all relevant stakeholders in the migration landscape. The launch and establishment of the NCM has created a government-led inter-agency platform for all migration actors aimed at timely addressing migration issues, mainstreaming of migration in national development plans and ensuring policy coherence.
Through the leadership of the Office of the Vice President (OVP), the NCM has helped create a holistic and whole-of-government approach to facilitate dialogue and cooperation among stakeholders on migration; enhance understanding on migration trends and dynamics; facilitate informed decision making and policy coherence; track progress in the implementation of migration related programmes; contribute to regional discourse on migration; and facilitate the implementation of continental and regional policies and protocols on migration at the national level.
The OVP also serves as the Secretariat of the NCM responsible for convening meetings, coordinating activities of the NCM and overseeing the activities of the eight (8) thematic working groups on specific migration issues. These thematic working groups consist of Border Management; Communications and Advocacy; Cross-Cutting Issues; Internal Migration; Labour Migration; Migration Data, Policy and Legislation; Migration and Development; and Return and Reintegration.
The Gambia continues to be a country of origin, transit, and destination for migrants. As such the promotion of safe, orderly, and regular migration cannot be overemphasized. During the review process, while relative progress was noted, a plethora of challenges including financial, human, and other structural issues were identified as bottlenecks for successful implementation of GCM objectives.