How migration information campaigns shape local perceptions and discourses of migration in Harar city, Ethiopia

Raffaella Pagogna & Patrick Sakdapolrak

In: International Migration, 00, 1–14. –


Migration-information campaigns informing potential migrants about the risks of the journey and the harsh life conditions in the destination countries have emerged as prominent tools of migration management in the last decades. Despite their growing importance, little is known about their local implementation in countries of transit and origin as well as their influence on potential migrants' perceptions and experiences. The central objective of this paper is to understand how migration-information campaigns are implemented on a local scale and how they shape the perception and discourses of migration in the region. We pursue a multi-scalar analysis of international migration management policies and their outcomes in a specific place and link them with local migration aspirations. The paper is based on qualitative empirical research carried out in Harar, a medium-sized city in the Harari regional state of Ethiopia. Drawing on interviews with government officials, NGOs, city dwellers, and return migrants, as well as the analysis of policy documents and scientific literature, we show how the local implementation of migration-information campaigns shapes the local perceptions and discourses on migration within which migration aspirations are embedded. We found that information campaigns did not take into account the complexity and multifaceted nature of local socioeconomic and political conditions which reflects the discrepancy between policy discourses at large and people's perceptions.