The Gambia — Migration Decision Making and Journeys (January 2020)




The Gambia
Period Covered
Jan 01 2020
Jan 15 2020
  • Other

This report explores the economic drivers, societal dynamics and decision-making processes focusing on migration of Gambian nationals, drawing on the data collected through focus group discussions (FGDs) in the Gambia between 1st and 15th January 2020. This study uses information from FGDs conducted in the Gambia with potential migrants, returnees and diaspora members who were visiting the Gambia during the period of assessment (1st-15th January 2020). The discussions with potential migrants and diaspora members were held in one city, namely Serrekunda, discussions with the returnees were in three different cities, Bara, Birkama and Soma which specifically host many returnees. In total 10 FGDs were held (4 groups with potential migrants, 5 groups with returnees and 1 group with the diaspora members). Each group consisted of three to nine participants and was moderated by a DTM team member. All participants were Gambian nationals. While six groups were composed of males, the other three groups consisted of female potential migrants and, separately, female returnees.  One group of diaspora members comprised both female and male respondents. The findings of the study were summarized under 10 main points: 

  1. Migration in the Gambia is highly driven by economic reasons, specifically poverty and unemployment
  2. Supporting the family is the strongest motivation for migration among Gambian migrants
  3. Friends who have migrated/ are migrating are both the main information source and force in the decision-making process
  4. Money is the most important factor in enabling migrants to begin their journey, preparation time highly depends on how long it takes to obtain the required financial resources for the journey
  5. Migration routes can be very dangerous and there is a high awareness of the potential risks, nevertheless Gambian nationals decide to take the journey
  6. Gambian nationals who are planning to migrate try formal visa channels or at least learn about the visa process before they take the journey
  7. The diaspora is very effective in shaping Gambian nationals’ perspective on migration, presenting the life outside the Gambia, motivating their fellow nationals to migrate and shaping the selection of the destination country
  8. Networks are the most important factor in selecting the destination country
  9. Migration plans are not for long-term, return intention is very high
  10. Female and male migrants face different challenges throughout and after the journey