The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched this week (5 August) two new projects in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to enhance border facilitation and strengthen border public health capacity in West Africa. Implemented in collaboration with the Governments of Côte D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin and Togo, the projects will also address the COVID-19 crisis and other disease outbreaks in targeted countries.
Funded by the JICA, the “Data Collection Survey on Enhancing Border Facilitation and Strengthening Border Public Health Capacity in West Africa responding to Infectious Disease/ COVID-19” project (853,650 USD), will run from August 2021 to April 2022, and the “The Project for Enhancing Border Management Capacity for Responding to the Public Health Crises Including COVID-19” (4,927,671 USD) from September 2021 to August 2022.
These two projects aim at addressing the various challenges faced in West Africa borders during the COVID-19 outbreak. They will support the overall border management capacities at key Points of Entries (PoEs) in West Africa to sustain public health initiatives at these key PoEs and thus support safe mobility. This is to be accomplished through the capacity building of border authorities, as well as border communities in border management mechanisms and infectious diseases/COVID-19 response measures.
Since the COVID-19 hit West and Central Africa, approximately 510,000 cases have been confirmed with around 6,700 deaths. Although the pandemic is relatively under control in the region, with around 25,000 current active cases in all of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states and approximately 5,000 current active cases in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso, the unpredictable impact of the pandemic remains.
The pandemic outbreak has challenged the management of land borders and impacted the intraregional mobility in the ECOWAS region, particularly considering the continued closure of land borders since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Given the strong commitment of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to safe cross-border mobility, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening border governance with the aim of facilitating well-regulated movements while enhancing border public health capacity has never been more urgent,” says Marina Schramm, IOM Côte d’Ivoire Chief of Mission.
“JICA and IOM can bring our expertise and experience in mobility of goods and people across borders to confront the devastating health crisis, together with the Governments of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo” said the chief representative of JICA at the inauguration.
IOM and JICA have been critical COVID-19 response partners, playing a key role in the global efforts to avert further viral transmission and halt the spread of the disease in West African countries.