Migrating Out of Africa: Young African Men on the Move from the Saharan Belt to Europe

The current migrant crisis poses a significant challenge to the EU governance of migration. The EU is in need of a coherent, coordinated and comprehensive policy that will allow it to both reap benefits and address challenges deriving from migration in the years to come. This is especially true for Africa where the enormous population growth will cause a rapid increase in the number of migrants moving to Europe.

Copyright: Karin Willemse

Causes of migration

The main objective of the MOVES project is to provide evidence-based knowledge on the dynamics between root-causes of migration and community based decision-making processes pressuring young men from sending and transit countries in the Sahara Belt to migrate.


The approach of MOVES differs from previous research in scale, perspective and aim. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, it compares countries in different Sahara migration routes with similar environmental, climatic and socio-economic conditions that differ in religion, culture, language and political context.

This allows MOVES to analyse sending and transit areas on commonalities and differences with a bottom-up migrant-centred approach to studying the mobility/immobility nexus and community driven decision-making processes around migration. The latter is considered both an opportunity and a challenge to local livelihood strategies. To understand the moral pressure on young men to migrate to Europe, masculinity is considered a root-cause.

Better governance of migration

The in-depth knowledge on the communities’ decision making processes provides a basis for conceptual tools for migration management at the meso-level that is accountable to the ambitions and aspiration of the migrants themselves. A longer-term, more integrated, better coordinated good governance of migration at a meso-level is mutually beneficiary to the EU, EU Member States and sending and transit countries in the Sahara Belt, and can be transferred to other locations of migration.