Migration in West Africa: a visual analysis of motivation, causes, and routes

Related GLP Member: Janina Kleemann, Christine Fürst


Migration in West Africa has been taking place for centuries for different reasons. Many dimensions of migration remain insufficiently documented and poorly understood. In particular, factors of migration in destination areas and areas of origin are still lacking comprehensive analysis. In this paper, we bring a new perspective to the model of push and pull factors of migration in West Africa by reviewing and analyzing interview-based case studies of migration related to Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria, as well as to the associated migration routes. The overall aim of this study was to determine the areas that individuals historically chose as destinations for migration and what they perceived to be the distinctive conditions in those areas. Hence, characteristic features about destination areas and areas of origin were identified and located in maps, whereas interrelationships among push and pull factors were illustrated by means of Sankey diagrams. With these tools, we provide a novel combination for visualizing the reasons for migration. The literature review emphasizes the complex relationships between different drivers of migration, with environmental and economic factors emerging as the most important drivers of migration in the focus countries. Moreover, the identified and mapped migration patterns suggest that individuals migrate mainly from the northern part of a particular country to its center or southern regions. This scientific approach shows that the spatial allocation of migratory movements can facilitate assessments on how to meet specific Sustainable Development Goals and to improve regional policies.