Background

 

The Current State of Migration in sub-Saharan Africa

Over the past 20 years, the global rates of migrant populations from low- and middle-income countries (including political refugees, internally displaced populations, asylum seekers, climate refugees and labor migrants) have steadily increased. Sub-Saharan Africa has irregular migration (migration through irregular channels, without legal status), labor migration and displacement. A high volume of migrant populations are due to economic opportunities in the mining, manufacturing, agricultural and fishing industries. Industrial development, especially in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, has attracted labor migrants from within the region and elsewhere (e.g., the Horn of Africa and West Africa). As such, labor migration remains one of the dominant forms of population movement in Southern Africa. However, political insecurity, violence and increasing exposure to climate-related shocks in the region also largely contribute to the growing numbers of migrant populations in the region.

 

Migration, Trauma, Mental Health and HIV Risk

Risk environments experienced by migrants in the host country (or region for internal migrants) including overcrowding, lack of access to healthcare, and increased physical and psychological stressors have been found to be associated with an increased risk of HIV and other infectious diseases. Studies have indicated the increased risk of trauma exposure occurring pre-migration, throughout the migration process and post migration. Forced migrants in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of exposure to political unrest, climate shocks, torture, war, and other human rights violations. Unforced (or labor) migrants in sub-Saharan Africa are frequently employed in what has been termed 3-D jobs, (dangerous, difficult and demeaning) where they are vulnerable to hazardous working environments, exploitation, xenophobia, violence and other potentially traumatic events. Research from several studies indicates a relationship between trauma, mental health problems (e.g., post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety) and HIV risk behavior (such as lack of condom use and concurrent multiple partners). There is a gap in evidence-based psychosocial and behavioral health programming that addresses the co-occurring health and mental health issues related to migrant populations (e.g., trauma, mental health, substance use, and HIV risk). The Moving Well Project, International Inc. was developed based on the need for evidence-based behavioral health programs which are culturally and contextually relevant among migrant populations. 

"The type of life at the river is a living hell, there is no proper sanitation, and we live like wild animals. "

-Zambian fish trader