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COVID-19 - Flow Monitoring Registry: Mobility Trends from 2019 to 2021 – West & Central Africa | Publication date: June 2021

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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally shaped mobility in the region, as the sanitary situation, mobility restrictions and other economic measures adopted by states heavily impacted population movements. The Flow Monitoring Registry (FMR) is a tool of IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) which records movements crossing areas of high-density mobility (areas of departure, transit and destination). FMR gathers data on the numbers, profiles, provenance and destinations of travellers crossing these strategic transit points.

To better understand the ways and the extent to which the COVID-19 crisis is impacting mobility in the region, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been working to analyse Flow Monitoring Registry data collected at key transit points in West and Central Africa 2020 and 2021. Data from Chad, Mali, Niger and Nigeria where FMPs were active throughout 2019-2021 are used for this analysis.

Volume of flows: The number of travellers registered at FMPs across the West and Central Africa region witnessed large variations in 2020 and 2021. Even if, the pandemic is always active in West and Central Africa, in the first three months of 2021, cross-border flows grew by 33 per cent compared with 2020 (Jan-Mar) and internal flows increased by 24 per cent.

Chart I illustrates the changes in flows observed at FMPs in 2020 and 2021 compared with the same month, one year earlier (i.e . in October 2020, flows observed where 35% higher than in October 2019).

Weekly flows: The flows of population in West and Central Africa were mainly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since the first case that appear in Nigeria in February 2020. Therefere, since may 2020, flows started to rise substantially until the end of the year. This increase is explained by multiple factors including seasonal movements (mine and farming at the Mali/Burkina Faso borders). November-December 2020 saw a stabilization of flows The first quarter of 2021 presents fairly similar trends with the first quarter of 2019 with an early increase of flows, largely due to holidays.

Types of flows: Cross-border and internal movements (Chart IV) were both affected by COVID-19 mobility restriction measures. Data collection between April and June 2020 shows a rapid resurgence in internal flows as internal mobility restrictions were eased or lifted in June 2020. Therefore, an increase of flows were observer one year after the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the same period in 2019 where there was no restrictions on mobility. This trends show that the COVID-19 is no more affected population movements during the first quarter of 2021.

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