Labour Mobility and Social Inclusion (LMI) in the East and Horn of Africa (EHOA) supports Member States in harnessing the full potential of mobility and regional integration which creates an environment where EHOA human capital, citizens as well as migrants, can fully contribute to their socio-economic development of the region.

Key LMI interventions span across the following portfolios: RECs (IGAD and EAC) Free Movement (FMP) and Common Market Protocols (CMP); Migrants’ Rights and Gender-sensitive Labour Migration Governance including improving labour migration and migration data, Diaspora Engagement, Remittances, Labour Mobility and Skills Development, Consular Cooperation, and Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs) that seek to strengthen existing links between migration management and development. To inform programmatic interventions, capacity development initiatives and evidence-based policymaking, LMI also conducts rapid assessments, mappings and research across all key areas such as:  migrant workers’ vulnerabilities, gender and social protection, BLMAs corridor assessments and consular cooperation and services mappings. 

LMI’s work is guided by relevant regional and global initiatives addressing labour migration, such as the Africa 2063 Agenda, AU Free Movement Protocol, the Revised Migration Policy Framework for Africa, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (particularly SDGs 5, 8.6, 8.8 and 10.7), the Global Compact for Migration (particularly Objectives 6, 7, 18, 20 and 23), as well as IOM’s Migration Governance Framework. In pursuance of the commitments made under the above frameworks, youth and gender issues are covered under several cross-thematic projects in the region, as youth account for more than 50% of the active working population in most of the countries, and women constitute slightly over 50% of the total number of migrants originating from the region. IOM works closely with the International Gender Champions (IGC) Nairobi Hub network and has also developed a regional youth strategy (2021-2024) seeking to share good practices on mainstreaming migration into the youth development agendas of a variety of stakeholders across the EHOA region.

Labour Mobility and Social Inclusion further provides strategic support to governments in the region for development and implementation of harmonized, evidence-based, and gender/youth-sensitive migration, labour migration and diaspora policies, through engagement with the Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM) on harmonizing labour migration policies in EHOA: a united approach for safe, orderly and humane labour migration, supported, inter alia, by the Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Program funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom (FCDO), and other migration-related Regional Consultative Processes (RCPs), including those coordinated by the two Regional Economic Communities, namely East African Community (EAC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the National Coordination Mechanisms (NCMs) established by each of the Member States. In addition, IOM also leads the implementation of the AU-ILO-IOM-ECA Joint Labour Migration Programme for Africa (JLMP), which is an important strategic framework supporting the operationalization of the Revised Migration Policy Framework for Africa and its plan of action, and the Ouagadougou +10 Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment, Poverty Eradication, and Inclusive Development. 

LMI contributes to enhancing labour migration governance capacities in the region and safeguarding the rights of migrant workers and their families, by building the capacities of technical officials and key stakeholders including media, civil society organizations, and recruitment agencies in Member States, on theoretical and practical subject areas. These include, inter alia, preparation, negotiation, design, implementation, and monitoring Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs), ethical recruitment, collection, organization, and dissemination of labour migration data for better skills matching, and development of migrant-sensitive Labour Market Information Systems (LMIS). IOM has developed specialized tools and networks for such trainings. IOM’s flagship International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) and the Global Policy Network on Recruitment are some examples. 

To reduce youth unemployment, boost the incomes of migrants and their families, re-strategize and facilitate the return and re-integration of migrant workers and members of their families and minimize the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, IOM, through its LMI portfolio, cooperates with a variety of government and non -government stakeholders to improve access to economic opportunities for migrants. This is carried out through skills-building and entrepreneurship programs accompanying cash and in-kind support, usually implemented via grants to local civil society organizations and migrant communities, support for overhaul and reform of technical and vocational trainings curricula and facilities, and private sector engagement focused on enhanced skills matching. 

Ensuring increased involvement of the East and Horn of Africa’s strong diaspora communities in the development of Member States is also a key objective of the LMI portfolio. Focus is placed on facilitating knowledge and skills transfer through operationalization of programs on return of qualified nationals to enhance the capacity of state institutions and leveraging remittances in the development process through efforts to decrease the transfer costs and through financial literacy programs.