The Centre for Migration Studies (CMS), University of Ghana, Legon has launched a project to Strengthen Knowledge, Evidence Use and Leadership in the Global South on Forced Displacement with a focus on Anglophone West African countries.
The Project, being funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies under College of Humanities of the 12 Universities across three continents to lead research on forced displacement.
The IDRC since 2021, has invested 7.5 million Canadian dollars on forced displacement.
The project is part of a five-year IDRC initiative on forced displacement through support to research in selected universities.
The project will be conducted in Ghana, the Gambia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
It seeks to adopt a gender transformative and interdisciplinary approaches with robust methodologies and techniques that sustain and contribute towards vigorous gender analysis as well as transformative attitudes, which support gender equality in the management of forced displacement issues.
The overarching goal is to establish inter-disciplinary evidence and generate significant body of knowledge which can contribute to improved understanding of forced displacement, and the livelihood opportunities, as well as access to economic and social services from a gender perspective.
The project aims to contribute to informing the development of new gender-sensitive approaches or strengthening of existing frameworks to effectively deal with forced displacement in Anglophone West Africa.
Professor Mary B. Setrana, the Director of CMS, said the grant would help the Centre to work towards achieving its goal as the research, teaching and policy development Centre on migration-related issues.
She said globally, an estimated 108.4 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes at the end of 2022 (UNHCR, 2023).
The bulk of these displacements, she said, were caused by violence, conflicts, human rights violations, climate change and lack of political will to relocate, resettle or compensate victims affected by the construction of infrastructure like roads and shopping malls.
She cited the current disaster at the Centre, where its offices and classrooms have been affected by the heavy rains since June 2023 with no resettlement package nor compensation as an example of forced displacement.
“The current estimate of forced displacement represents double the 42.7million displaced persons recorded a decade ago and the highest since the second World War (UNHCR, 2022).
“The most affected population in forced displacement are women and children. Women have limited alternatives when they are forcibly displaced. They mostly find themselves in vulnerable situations,” she added.
Prof. Setrana, who is also the Chair (Principal Investigator) of Anglophone West African countries, noted despite the increasing numbers, there remains insufficient knowledge and interventions on the extent to which gender intersects with the drivers of displacement, livelihood opportunities, access to economic resources and other services.
She announced that the 12 Universities represented by the various chairs met for the first time in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from May 30 to June 1, 2023, to share their work and planned activities, as well as provide updates on displacement from their respective regions.
“As Chairs, we have also established a network for ongoing collaboration facilitated by the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN), based at Carleton University, Canada,” she said.
She expressed the hope that the project would enable knowledge production, policy making and offer lessons for the future on forced displacement in West Africa and the World at large.
Professor Dan Frimpong Ofori, Second Provost, College of Humanities, University of Ghana, Legon, said forced displacement was a serious issue and the College took interest in contributing its quota through research in protecting affected people and beyond.
He said it was estimated that food insecurity, climate change and the current economic hardships would forcibly displace more people from their countries.
He noted that the current coup d’état on the continent, specifically, in Niger and Gabon, would equally result into forced displacement, adding that, “l hope the project the findings of the project would inform governments’ policies to give hope and comfort to the victims.”
Collaborating Agencies on the project are Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana Refugee Board, and the National Disaster Management Organisation.
The representatives took turns to elaborate on their collaborating efforts with the Centre and other stakeholders and have expressed their commitment to ensure the project’s success.