Community leaders participate in an awareness-raising workshop in Burkina Faso. Credit: IOM/Franois-Xavier Ada-Affana
Community leaders participate in an awareness-raising workshop in Burkina Faso. Credit: IOM/Franois-Xavier Ada-Affana

Theater has become a tool to raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration in Burkina Faso thanks to a campaign launched by UN agency IOM.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is using theater to raise awareness about the dangers of irregular migration in Burkina Faso. The initiative 'Burkina Faso is Good!' involves theater group Wati Nooma (''life is good here'' in the Mooré language). A total of 25 community actors from the Central-Eastern Region of Burkina Faso were trained by IOM in community mobilization techniques. The goal is to empower these voices to effectively raise awareness among young people about the threats posed by irregular migration, the organization said in a statement. 


Theater against irregular migration 

Abdoul Balima, one of the members of the theater group, said: ''I have suffered a lot during my journey and I do not wish that on anyone else. That's why I joined a theatre group to raise awareness among my brothers and sisters about the dangers of irregular migration. And to help them make informed decisions." IOM said in a statement that a two-day training event last week (20-21 February 2019) brought together returning migrants, mothers of young migrants, traditional leaders, young entrepreneurs and government representatives. 

''Together, they brainstormed over best strategies for community mobilization to raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration among young people in the region," the organization explained. 

The central-eastern region of Burkina Faso is the community most affected by irregular migration. In 2018, 56 percent of migrants assisted by IOM to return voluntarily to Burkina Faso came from this region. 

Ouba Aristide, a traditional leader, said during training that ''today, the dangers of irregular migration such as trafficking, smuggling, or even death, are visible in our communities." ''As a traditional leader, the first solution is to raise awareness among young people to help them understand that the perilous journey involves serious risks, and that they can build success by exploiting the existing opportunities in their communities, especially in agriculture,'' he said. 

A campaign in the center-east 

Young people often leave the region due to a precarious economic situation, as well as for social and cultural reasons. This is why it is fundamental to involve the community to raise awareness, IOM explained. As part of the campaign, Wati Nooma will travel across the central-eastern region of Burkina Faso to organize theater performances, film screenings and community meetings. The training of the theater group is part of the #FasoNooma (''Faso is good'' in the Mooré language) awareness campaign launched on 25 February 2019 in Tenkodogo. 

The campaign aims to raise awareness among young Burkinabè about the risks of irregular migration and the employment opportunities in the region though forums, football competitions and radio shows. The #FasoNooma campaign is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Burkina Faso, the Italian and Belgian governments and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
 

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