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Activity update   -   Migration Statistics Data Collection

The Demographic, Health and Social Statistics Division has completed 12 days data collection on Migration Statistics across the official border points in Sierra Leone. The exercise is part of the routine activities of the Migration Unit of the Demographic Statistics Section for the first quarter of 2019. This is also part of Stats SL mandate to provide collaborate with other institutions in providing credible data for effective management and development of the population.

Over the past few years the government of Sierra Leone in line with international standards, regional priorities and good practices as well as responding to the increasing complexity and diversity of migration processes, has stepped up its efforts to enhance relevant legislative, regulative and administrative frameworks by enacting the Labour Migration Policy in 2018. In light of the foregoing, the Migration Statistics unit of Stats SL as part of its routine activities carried out an exercise to collect migration data at the various official borders of the country. This exercise provided guidance for compiling, analysing and disseminating data from administrative sources that is relevant for international migration. It also examined the strengths and weaknesses of using administrative sources for migration data.

Monitoring population movements in Sierra Leone will represent an important regional initiative as was indicated the ECOWAS framework on migration. It allows for a better understanding of intentions, trends, routes, risks as well as demographic and socio-economic profiles of migrants. It serves as a common source of data contributing to informed policymaking by authorities in countries of origin, transit and destination.

The objective of the study is to collect data on migration flow in the county in order to enable Stats SL to create a database on migrants flow after the 2015 Population and Housing Census and to provide inputs to the on-going national migration policy.

Since the source of data is purely administrative, staff in the division were involved in manually counting the number of migrants as were recorded in the ledger by the immigration officers. The team visited the borders of Zimmi, Jendema, Gbangbtoke in the Southern Region; Koindu, Yenga and Baidu in the Eastern Region; Sanya, Gbalamuya and Lungi in the North-Western Region and Kabala in Northern Region. Data collection started on the 7th of March 2019 and lasted for 12 days. The team departed from Freetown on the 6th of March and returned on the 18th of March, 2019.

This exercise was well appreciated by various staff of the Immigration Department across the border posts despite their numerous challenges in executing their task. It was reported to us by immigration officers that there are various crossing points in these areas that are unmanned. However the focus of our team was to capture the regular flow of migrants in areas that are officially manned by immigration officers. There are structures to collect migration flows but certain key demographic variables such as Age, Sex, Purpose of visit, Level of education of migrants and their occupation were virtually absent in most ledgers prepared by the

Immigration officers across these border posts. These missing variables will limit the   analytical report of migrants flow at various border crossing points.

Numerous challenges were faced by the team members and these are listed below:

  1. Generally, data were capture through manual counting from the ledgers across these border posts.
  1. There was no summary of the mere count of migrants flow per month as well as for the period under review.
  1. It was observed that supervision of daily recording is ineffective thereby causing migrants to escape the normal registration process. This incidence is practical in the Gbalamuya –Guinea border post.
  1. No computerised data of migrants flow in all crossing point with the exception of Lungi International Airport.
  1. No proper filing of the flow of migrants and this caused delays in accessing the ledgers.
  1. For border posts in Zimmi and Yenga, there was no office space to carry out our task.
  1. The team was unable to capture data for Kono due to limited resources and time

In spite of the numerous challenges in carrying out this task, the exercise was successful. Immigration Officers across the border posts appealed to the team for training on age estimation and basic skills on migration analysis in line with international standards. It is important to point out that the data collected are mere counts of the flow of migrants and therefore analysis on Labour migration would not be made as the purpose of visit was not captured in the data presented. The data will be validated in a validation workshop wherein Immigration officers across these borders will be invited to participate.  An analytical report of the data collected will be made available by the end of April. A Regional training will be done for key immigration staff across these border posts on the use of the standard template to capture migration statistics.

There is need to provide logistical support to all official border posts in order to enhance their capacity in compiling relevant and credible migration data.