What is WAKA Well?
‘Waka’ is the Nigerian pidgin word for ‘travel’ or ‘go’ and WAKA Well is an IOM campaign launched in Nigeria in 2019 to promote safe migration. It has since expanded to many other countries in the region and seeks to empower young people in West Africa to make informed decisions about their futures, whether abroad or at home.
The digital platform WAKAWell.info provides reliable information on migration, local opportunities and who to speak to locally for guidance.
The Thinking Behind WAKA Well
Among young West Africans, a desire to travel is often coupled with insufficient access to accurate migration-related information. Exploitation and abuse through irregular migration are problems that require audience-specific solutions to increase both the availability of accurate information and the use of that information.
When starting this project, IOM found that 80% of young respondents in Guinea and Nigeria intended to travel abroad but over half had difficulty finding accurate information about migration and local opportunities.
IOM and youth go beyond awareness raising, to affecting behavioural change through a Communication for Development (C4D) approach. Together, we create media content, such as videos, promoting safe, regular and dignified migration using television, radio, online social media campaigns and on-the-ground activities that are led by evidence from communities that participate in the campaign.
Consultations with communities showed that there is already strong awareness of the risks of irregular migration (violence, deportation, imprisonment…). The videos produced do not therefore dwell too long on the dangers of migrating irregularly but instead show the benefits of the alternatives – migrating the safe way or pursuing a local opportunity to study, train or work.
The IOM X model is applied by a technical team, including C4D and content creation experts working together to feed research findings, community input and distribution strategies into the design of activities that can be measured for impact.
Communities involved in the project were selected due to young populations, high levels of vulnerability to exploitation through irregular migration and low awareness of local opportunities. The young people involved in the project were selected due to their community engagement, creative skills and interest in migration issues. Using a participatory methodology and involving Volunteers from a complementary IOM project – Migrants as Messengers (MaM) – has positive implications for migration-related activities well beyond IOM X.
The WAKA Well campaign is in its 3rd phase and has had a positive impact on target audiences, with demonstrated shifts in intended behaviour towards migration. Since 2019, more than 65,000 people have visited the dedicated WAKAWell.info pages for Côte D’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. WAKA Well is a real-life network of young people across West Africa advocating for safe migration. More than 2 million people have been reached through online and offline activities West Africa.
Another important element is the project’s focus on community capacity to apply a C4D approach to their own work through trainings and distribution of the C4D Toolkit. This equips communities to carry C4D learning forward into future community action.