West Africa’s agricultural sector represents 35% of the region’s GDP and is one of the principal sources of employment for millions of people- up to 80% of the residents in rural areas. However, climate change and its consequences, such as the unpredictability and uncertainty of rainfall patterns, have affected this sector, threatening the livelihood of communities and forcing many to migrate in the search for complementary income or better opportunities.
Additionally, health-related stressors such as COVID-19 have a high impact on the agricultural division, by expositing the vulnerability of the food and distribution systems with the destabilization of supply chains and disruption of cross-border trade.
On World Environment Day, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in West and Central Africa reminds governments and local authorities that if processed and managed in a sustainable way, agricultural lands can provide job opportunities for youth and migrants and it can contribute to securing food production and strengthening biodiversity.
However, agriculture is today threatened by urbanization, with new buildings taking over the exploitable lands. In Rufisque, on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, communities, and authorities join together to preserve this land that feeds them, which protects them from floods and that is also the green lung of their city. In this city, one household out of five lives thanks to agriculture and hundreds of working migrants come from neighboring countries, Burkina Faso, Mali, and The Gambia.