Elina Marmer and Jürgen Scheffran
Migration and Development


As a sending, transit and destination country, Morocco is in many regards a hot spot of human migration. Moroccan emigrants living abroad strongly contribute to the country’s economy, supported by emigration policy. In regions stricken by droughts, migrant social networks can be resourceful in increasing resilience and adaptive capacities of the communities of origin. Migrants can trigger innovations across regions through co-development activities and the transfer of knowledge, technology and remittances, preventing conflicts by linking strategies for development in the communities of origin and destination. Incoming migrants from West Africa and the Sahel, whose livelihoods are at stake due to a complex nexus of cultural, economic, political, environmental and climatic factors, are facing major hurdles in Morocco, with additional challenges in the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring’. The transitory settlement of West Africans in Moroccan cities has led to noticeable changes in the appropriation and degradation of spaces and places in the absence of interventions by the Moroccan government to offer legal protection and institutional support for most of African immigrants, while Europe increases its measures to prevent them from entering. West African immigrants become trapped in this situation and most often experience hostility, racism and violence. This paper addresses the multiple challenges, with a particular focus on ex-fishermen who, because of resource depletion in their origin countries due to climate variability and overfishing, have decided to migrate to Morocco. It also examines the initiatives and capacity development undertaken by West African migrants in Morocco to protect themselves in the absence of effective legal and social systems. To diminish the hardships, reduce environmental vulnerability and create new opportunities, West African immigrants in Morocco take issues in their own hands, build resilience to transform their realities and improve their livelihoods.