This paper has previously been published by ADMIGOV.
Halting migration ambitions by implementing developments initiatives has been part of the ‘s external toolbox since the adoption of the Global Approach for Migration and Mobility (Deridder, Pelckmans, Ward 2020, 13). With the “migration crisis” of 2015, the number of policy initiatives to try and stem departures from countries of origin multiplied and aid to African countries became increasingly conditional upon cooperation on migration matters (Schofberger, 2019). The EU-Africa Valletta Summit and the creation of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa identified West Africa as one of the prime regions of focus for projects that found themselves on the so-called migration-development-security nexus.
Mali was one of the West African priority countries due a high number of Malian arrivals in Europe as well as because of its strategic position on key migration routes northward. While finding itself under external pressure to stem departures was nothing new for the country (Saadiyo, 2020), the scale at which projects were implemented increased considerably, especially in regions that had longstanding traditions of long-distance migration such as the southern region of Kayes and Sikasso. A variety of projects were implemented that sought to create livelihood opportunities for residents and returning migrants, using a logic that assumed that creating such opportunities would lower people’s aspirations to leave.
This study examines the approach put forward by these projects and investigates to what extent migration aspirations are influenced by development assistance. It focuses on Malian residents and returning migrants from the region of Kayes, as well as on migrants in transit in Bamako and the northern city of Gao. Research findings are based on 586 quantitative interviews and 60 qualitative interviews.
The first two parts of this study will explore the Malian country context with regards to migration and spell out the methodology used in both the quantitative and qualitative research methods. A third part then provides a descriptive profile of respondents based on both datasets and unpacks their migration aspirations as well as the development assistance they have thus far received. In a fourth and final part the relationship between development assistance received and migrations aspirations is analysed.