Despite the high volume of population mobility and migrant stocks in the Southern African region, data on international migration is often unavailable, or fragmented and non-comparable between countries. This hampers the capacity of relevant stakeholders to design and develop evidence-based migration policies and also affects the accuracy of national and regional reports on policy and development progress. To this end, there is low tendency in securing an accurate, consistent and detailed information on migration to estimate and project populations; to plan and design policies as well as to ensure a better understanding of the processes and consequences of migration. The need for timely and reliable data to inform migration policies and programming within SADC was underscored by recommendations from the 2017 Ministerial Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA), which among others, encouraged Member States to “Build capacities to collect and analyze migration data to strengthen evidence-based policy-making.” Similarly, efforts to prioritize the improvement of migration data are corroborated at the global level by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), which states the need to “Collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies” as its first objective.
In order to enhance data management, the MIDSA of 2019 as well as the Ministerial Committee of the Organ of July 2019 have alluded to a need to have a Regional Migration Information Management System to enhance evidence-based decision making on migration and development. With the understanding that the collection of Migration data in Member States is still not robust enough for harmonization or even automation, this Concept Note appreciates the process that Member States are engaged in to manage migration data and proposes an incremental process towards a Regional Migration Information Management System.
The SAMM project will engage with the National Statistical Offices at the member States to improve access to timely and update data on mixed migration and promote an approach to standardize definitions and collection methods of migration data as well as extensive capacity building for those managing migration data.
In compliment to this, there is the Regional Database on Trafficking in Persons SADC Regional TIP Data Collection System was established in the year 2014 as part of a collaborative initiative between the SADC Secretariat, SADC Member States and the UNODC. The system was conceived to address the challenges of limited, validated statistical data on trafficking in the region. It was also meant to respond to the proposal to develop a Regional Management.
- Conduct an assessment of migration data: challenges and recommendations in five SADC Member States building on the existing initiatives already taken in five countries in the country – Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Coordinate with the SADC Secretariat and the Member States in the development and implementation of harmonization roadmap for migration data in the region including the establishment of Regional Coordination Mechanism for Migration data.
- Conduct capacity building activities for the national statistical officials on migration data management at the national and regional levels
- Enhance the capacity of Member States to collect and analyse data on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants on the SADC TIP Database.
- Support the establishment and operationalization of the Regional Migration Data Hub as a central repository for migration data in the region.
- Facilitate regular collection and dissemination of cross-border data along major migration corridors in the region through the establishment of flow monitoring points.
GCM Objective 1 “Collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies” commits the Member States to strengthen the global evidence base on international migration by improving and investing in the collection, analysis and dissemination of accurate, reliable, comparable data, disaggregated by sex, age, migration status and other characteristics relevant in national contexts, while upholding the right to privacy under international human rights law and protecting personal data. It affirms the commitment of the MSs to ensuring this data fosters research, guides coherent and evidence-based policy-making and well-informed public discourse, and allows for effective monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of commitments over time.
To realize this commitment, Member States may draw from the following actions:
- Elaborate and implement a comprehensive strategy for improving migration data at local, national, regional and global levels, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission, by harmonizing methodologies for data collection, and strengthening analysis and dissemination of migration-related data and indicators;
- Improve international comparability and compatibility of migration statistics and national data systems, including by further developing and applying the statistical definition of an international migrant, elaborating a set of standards to measure migrant stocks and flows, and documenting migration patterns and trends, characteristics of migrants, as well as drivers and impacts of migration;
- Develop a global programme to build and enhance national capacities in data collection, analysis and dissemination to share data, address data gaps and assess key migration trends, that encourages collaboration between relevant stakeholders at all levels, provides dedicated training, financial support and technical assistance, leverages new data sources, including big data, and is reviewed by the United Nations Statistical Commission on a regular basis;
- Collect, analyse and use data on the effects and benefits of migration, as well as the contributions of migrants and diasporas to sustainable development, with a view to inform the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related strategies and programmes at the local, national, regional and global levels.
- Support further development of and collaboration between existing global and regional databases and depositories, including the IOM Global Migration Data Portal and the World Bank Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, with a view to systematically consolidate relevant data in a transparent and user-friendly manner, while encouraging inter-agency collaboration to avoid duplication.
- Establish and strengthen regional centres for research and training on migration or migration observatories, such as the African Observatory for Migration and Development, to collect and analyse data in line with United Nations standards, including on best practices, the contributions of migrants, the overall economic, social and political benefits and challenges of migration in countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as drivers of migration, with a view to establishing shared strategies and maximizing the value of disaggregated migration data, in coordination with existing regional and subregional mechanisms.
- Improve national data collection by integrating migration-related topics in national censuses, as early as practicable, such as on country of birth, country of birth of parents, country of citizenship, country of residence five years prior to the census, most recent arrival date and reason for migrating, to ensure timely analysis and dissemination of results, disaggregated and tabulated in accordance with international standards, for statistical purposes.
- Conduct household, labour force and other surveys to collect information on the social and economic integration of migrants or add standard migration modules to existing household surveys to improve national, regional and international comparability, and make collected data available through public-use of statistical microdata files.
- Enhance collaboration between State units responsible for migration data and national statistical offices to produce migration-related statistics, including by using administrative records for statistical purposes, such as border records, visa, resident permits, population registers and other relevant sources, while upholding the right to privacy and protecting personal data.
- Develop and use country-specific migration profiles, which include disaggregated data on all migration-relevant aspects in a national context, including those on labour market needs, demand and availability of skills, the economic, environmental and social impacts of migration, remittance transfer costs, health, education, occupation, living and working conditions, wages, and the needs of migrants and receiving communities, in order to develop evidence-based migration policies.
- Cooperate with relevant stakeholders in countries of origin, transit and destination to develop research, studies and surveys on the interrelationship between migration and the three dimensions of sustainable development, the contributions and skills of migrants and diasporas, as well as their ties to the countries of origin and destination