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Evaluating the impact of information campaign in deterring irregular migration intention among youths. a randomised control experiment in Edo State, Nigeria

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This paper evaluates the impact of a rural information campaign on safe migration conducted in Nigeria. The intervention was done in 10 secondary schools in Edo State by a means randomised experiment. The result shows that treated students responded appropriately to the information campaign by showing more ability to understand the dangers of irregular migration and intended behavioural change. Receiving accurate and complete information that included the dangers on the migration route and the conditional realities at the final destination increased knowledge of irregular migration. Our experiment showed that this could reduce the risk of being a victim of human trafficking by more than 50 per cent. It could also reduce the desire to engage in irregular migration by more than 30 per cent and increased the decision to take necessary steps to avoid human traffickers, and follow alternatives to irregular migration by more than 50 per cent. The paper concludes that information campaigns is a powerful tool that could reduce information asymmetries about the perilous journey to Europe as well as improve the intended migration behaviours of youths. However, it should be implemented using appropriate channels, the right message, and tailored to a target group.
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Invited paper presented at the 6th African
Conference of Agricultural Economists,
September 23-26, 2019, Abuja, Nigeria
Copyright 2019 by [authors]. All rights reserved. Readers may make verbatim copies of this
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appears on all such copies.
Evaluating the impact of information campaign in deterring
irregular migration intention among youths. a randomised control
experiment in Edo State, Nigeria
Chinedu Obi1,2, Fabio Bartolini2, Marijke D’Haese1
1Ghent University, Belgium
2University of Pisa, Italy
A paper submitted for presentation at the AAAE Conference, Abuja 2019
This paper evaluates the impact of a rural information campaign on safe migration conducted
in Nigeria. The intervention was done in 10 secondary schools in Edo State by a means
randomised experiment. The result shows that treated students responded appropriately to the
information campaign by showing more ability to understand the dangers of irregular migration
and intended behavioural change. Receiving accurate and complete information that included
the dangers on the migration route and the conditional realities at the final destination increased
knowledge of irregular migration. Our experiment showed that this could reduce the risk of
being a victim of human trafficking by more than 50 per cent. It could also reduce the desire to
engage in irregular migration by more than 30 per cent and increased the decision to take
necessary steps to avoid human traffickers, and follow alternatives to irregular migration by
more than 50 per cent. The paper concludes that information campaigns is a powerful tool that
could reduce information asymmetries about the perilous journey to Europe as well as improve
the intended migration behaviours of youths. However, it should be implemented using
appropriate channels, the right message, and tailored to a target group.
Keywords: Information campaign, Irregular migration, Randomised experiment, Youths,
The number of young people engaging in irregular migration around the world is increasing
due to activities of illegal migration brokers and the enhanced digital connectivity of people
(Alpes, 2017; Cooke & Shuttleworth, 2018; IOM, 2018). Illegal migration brokers including
smugglers and human traffickers mostly operate in shadows, deceiving vulnerable youths,
recruiting and transporting them to other countries for profit reasons (Ambrosini, 2017). The
digital connectivity offered by mobile phones and social media provides access to migration
information and helps youths stay connected with the migration brokers (Gelb & Krishnan,
2018). However, the migration information provided by brokers may be incomplete, a reality
that is unfortunately realised at a much later stage of the migration trajectory. Brokers through
social media may projects unachievable promises to youths, making them misrepresent the
migration expectation, and leading them to discount the risk associated with the irregular
migration journey (Allen & Eaton, 2005; Mbaye, 2014).
International migration management, therefore, is gradually shifting from making secure
borders and deportations to focusing on improving safe migration information to young people
(European Migration Network, 2018). Migration information campaigns are organised
communication activities that have the objective of informing, deterring and motivating
behavioural changes on the targeted audience (Pécoude, 2010). Migration information
campaigns defer in objectives, message, communication channel and target group (Tjaden,
Morgenstern, & Laczko, 2018). It serves dual objectives to facilitate safe migration or hinder
irregular migration (McKenzie & Yang, 2015). Messages provided in the campaign to hinder
irregular migration include the dangers of the journey, the situation in the country of destination,
and other livelihood alternatives (Bah & Batista, 2018; Schloenhardt & Philipson, 2013). The
channels for information campaigns include the mass media, school educations, community
engagement, home visits, informal gatherings, and target group could be youths, return
migrants, potential traffickers, or the entire country (Tjaden et al., 2018).
Despite that information campaign have been implemented in many countries to deter irregular
migration (McKenzie & Yang, 2015), there is limited evidence on the programme performance
and effectiveness surveys in academic literature. Tjaden et al., (2018) conducted an extensive
systematic review of 60 relevant campaigns from a pool of 3600 records and showed that only
two studies were published in peer-review journals (Davy, 2014; McNevin, Missbach, &
Mulyana, 2016). Moreover, according to the result of the review, the majority of the studies
lack a clear define campaign objective or target group. Secondly, while focusing on inducing a
change in knowledge, perception, attitude and less on intended behaviours, most of the studies
provided relatively little evidence of the impact evaluations. Thirdly, most of the evaluations
failed to meet minimum standards for robust evidence on programme impacts, with none
employing a quasi-experimental or experimental method (e.g. randomised control
Trying to fill the gap identified by Tjaden et al., (2018) we implemented and evaluated the
effectiveness of migration information campaign in Nigeria. We clearly defined the objective
of our impact evaluation on three levels. 1: implement the campaign using an effective process
(channels and message) tailored to the target group. 2, examine the impact on migration
knowledge of the participants. 3, Investigate the impact of the campaign on the participants’
future intention to engage in irregular migration. The target group of our campaign are youths
in rural secondary schools in Edo State, Nigeria. We explain in the next section the reasons for
selecting this group. Moreover, we used a randomised control experiment to assign our
participants into treatment and controls groups to justify attributing the noticeable effects on
the campaign and not on the external factor (Bruhn & McKenzie, 2009).
We explain a theory of change that incomplete information from migrants brokers and social
media lead to biased estimation of expected return, making people make poor migration
decision and ending up in vulnerable situations (Allen & Eaton, 2005; Tjaden et al., 2018).
However, providing complete information about the situations along with the transits and most
importantly the realities in the destination countries will make people be better informed and
have behavioural change (Bah & Batista, 2018; McKenzie & Yang, 2015). Fokkema & de Haas,
(2015) showed that people who are well informed before migration tend to make better
decisions and achieve higher levels of socio-cultural integration in destination countries.
1 The review, however, focused on information campaigns to deter migration. Hence it did not include the work
of Beam et al., (2016) which used a large-scale randomised experiment to test the effectiveness of
international labour migration facilitating campaign in the Philippines.
This paper reports the programming and effectiveness evaluation of the information campaign
conducted by Ricosmigration project2 in Edo State, Nigeria in 2018. Nigerians have
consistently ranked top among the most common nationalities travelling through the
Mediterranean sea to Italy, with many of them dying in the process (UNHCR, 2017). In Nigeria,
Edo State was explicitly selected as it has been known as a common point of departure for many
young people (Frontex, 2018; Malakooti, 2016). Young people especially those between the
ages of 15 and 24 years in rural areas on the verge of completing secondary school are most
vulnerable to migrate irregularly (IOM, 2017). This is a due elongated period of not being
employed, nor education nor training (NEET period). They fall easy prey to the deception of
human traffickers and bias information of life abroad projected by migrants on social media
(Carling, 2006). This phenomenon raises the need to conduct migration information campaigns
targeting young people in rural secondary schools in Edo State, Nigeria.
The information campaign had a comprehensive coverage reaching about 7300 students in Edo
State, Nigeria. The facilitators are volunteers from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC),
trained by a team from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the National
Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP). Different channels were
adopted in delivering the campaigns in the schools, including oral seminars, leaflets, and videos.
The message includes information on irregular migration, human trafficking and alternative
The randomised experiment evaluation showed that the campaign could reduce the risk of being
a victim of human trafficking by more than 50 per cent. It could also reduce the desire to engage
in irregular migration by more than 30 per cent and increased the decision to take necessary
steps to avoid human traffickers and follow proper procedures for safe migration by more than
50 per cent. The success factors of the awareness campaign include the utilisation of appropriate
channels, delivery of an accurate message that was tailored to the target group, and the use of
respected external facilitators.
Irregular migration from African to Europe presents a new challenge for policymakers in
Europe and Africa. This is not only because of the mostly undocumented status of many
irregular immigrants but is also to the increased risk to livelihoods that these journeys present
(UNICEF, 2017). In 2018, UNHCR reported that about 144,166 migrants entered Europe
irregularly through the sea, with more than 2275 reported dead or missing (UNHCR, 2018).
The central departure countries from Africa include Morocco, Guinea, Mali, Algeria and
Nigeria. The UNHCR (2018) reported the perilous experience and inhumane treatment received
by migrants on transit. This includes sexual exploitation at the hands of migrant brokers and
security agents, death at sea and on land (desert), and other forms of financial exploitation both
in transit and on arrival at destination countries.
In the other hand, the public opinion and acceptability of irregular migrants in Europe are also
changing, putting more pressure on European countries to act (FRA, 2018; Rustenbach, 2010).
2 Ricosmigration means Rural Information Campaign on Safe Migration. It is a grassroots initiative that is
sponsored by the German Foreign Office, through the German Embassy to Nigeria in 2018.
At the European level, several methods have been adopted to curtail irregular migration, such
as intensifying border control, setting up an emergency trust fund for Africa to help foster
stability, and funding migration information campaigns (European Migration Network, 2018).
Although the crackdown on irregular migration may have led to a decrease in the number of
arrivals through the sea, many highly motivated migrants have resorted to changing migration
routes than returning to their countries(Frontex, 2018). For instance, since the reduction of
rescue ships in the central Mediterranean sea by the Italian Coast Guard, reports have shown
that more people are now arriving through Greece and Spain than through Italy, with more
death per arrival than before (UNHCR, 2018).
With the increasing risk of migration due to stricter European border rules, the rate of people
dying at sea has increased significantly. The rate of migrants dying at sea in transit from Libya
to Italy went from 1 death for every 38 arrivals in 2017 to 1 for every 14 arrivals in 2018
(UNHCR, 2018). Furthermore, for those coming from Morocco to Spain, the number of deaths
almost increased by four times in 2018 than in the previous years. For many African migrants,
crossing the Mediterranean sea is the final chapter in a series of dangerous travel that includes
crossing the desert to Libya. Risks of this journey include the constant danger of being
kidnapped, torture for ransom, and death. A new report by the Mixed Migration Center, an
affiliate of the Danish Refugee Council, has shown that although deaths are relatively
undocumented, the number of deaths occurring in the desert for African migrants is higher than
those occurring at sea (Horwood, Forin, & Frouws, 2018). Nevertheless, the risk associated
with the journey, even when known may not be sufficient to deter young people from engaging
in irregular migration to Europe (Bah & Batista, 2018; Mbaye, 2014). This raises questions the
best ways to manage the issue.
To correctly manage irregular migration from Africa to Europe, there is a need to properly
implement a simple, complete migration message through the appropriate channel (McKenzie
& Yang, 2015; Tjaden et al., 2018). Bah & Batista, (2018) showed that while providing
information on the risk of the journey increase likelihood of irregular migration, providing
information on the probability of obtaining a legal residence permit in host countries decreases
the likelihood of irregular migration. Thus, information campaigns present an opportunity to
communicate not only the dangers of irregular migration but also the realities of living
situations in host countries (Pécoude, 2010; Schloenhardt & Philipson, 2013). A growing
number of countries in Europe are now commissioning awareness campaigns in Africa
(European Migration Network, 2018). These interventions utilise various channels including
the mass media, school curriculum, community engagement, home visits, and informal
gatherings to deliver tailored safe migration messages to irregular or potential irregular
migrants. Examples of information strategies to deter irregular migration implemented in Africa
include the “Challenge Yourself, Do Not Defy the Sea” campaign in Egypt, Campaign for
Children through Comic books in Senegal (UNHCR, 2011).
The number of international migrants in Nigeria is increasing due to violence, job search and
education (Connor & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2019). Most of the international migrants from
Nigerian stay within the continent, but significant intercontinental migration destinations
include the USA, UK, Canada and the EU (Connor & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2019). Nigeria is
among the top 9 countries detected for irregular stays in Europe, and Nigerians make up the
largest group of people attempting to cross into Europe through the sea (European Migration
Network, 2018). Due to its proximity, many Nigerian irregular migrants prefer to pass through
the Mediterranean sea onward to Italy. Data from Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT,
2019) show between 2013 and 2016, the registered number of irregular crossings by Nigerian
immigrants to Italy by the Mediterranean sea route increased by a factor of 11 for from 2,824
people to 37,554 people (Figure 1). Since 2016, there has been a significant reduction of
irregular sea arrival by Nigerians from 37,554 in 2016 to less than 3000 in 2018. This decrease
is mainly due to the sea closure policies initiated in April 2017 by the previous Italian
government, policies that also foster strong support in the present government (Srour, 2018).
Nevertheless, Nigeria remains the largest single group entering Italy since 2015. Legally,
Nigerians living in Italy rose from 48,220 registered in 2012 to 88,527 in 2017, and 106,069
in 2018 (ISTAT, 2019).
Figure 1: Number of Sea Arrivals from Nigeria into Italy between 2013 and 2018. Source (ISTAT, 2019)
Irregular migration from Nigeria to Europe follow a gendered dimension. While most males
pay to be smuggled, most females are victims of human trafficking (Carling, 2006). A report
by Frontex (2018) and (IOM, 2017) gave an overview of the human trafficking and smuggling
situation from Nigeria to Europe. The report shows that the majority of the victims are younger
girls particularly from Edo State, and other southern States like Ogun, Osun, Lagos, Anambra,
Enugu, Imo, Rivers, Cross-River, Delta and Akwa Ibom. The victims are vulnerable due to
poverty and are often deceived by migration brokers (traffickers). In many cases, the victims
are approached by traffickers (madams) and are deceived with a promised of a well-paid job or
study opportunities in Europe. The victims would gladly accept and are subjected to frightening
voodoo rituals to instil fear in them and ensure that they pay the debt to the traffickers upon
arrival in Europe. The ritual includes all manner of terrifying activities such as seizing of their
nails, pubic hairs, menstrual blood and sleeping in coffins. The fear and psychological traumas
on the victims had become an effective means of making them comply with all instructions of
traffickers including engaging in prostitution and refraining from seeking help.
Nevertheless, both those smuggled and victims of trafficking follow similar migration route
(Figure 2). From Nigeria, they travel by road to Kano and upwards to Libya through Agadez
in the Niger Republic where they are kept in connection houses. Many of the victims are
subjected to several forms of exploitation on the way and in the connection houses where they
may be raped, or forced into prostitution. Others especially those who cannot pay their
connection men (Asma boys) are sold to different traffickers like a commodity in Libya
(Frontex, 2018; UNICEF, 2017). Crossing the Mediterranean Sea is another hurdle where many
dies. Those that make it to Europe are immediately picked from the reception centres. While
most males continue to live without a legal permit to stay doing odd jobs, most of the female's
victims work as prostitutes to pay their traffickers, - an excessive debt which could amount to
more than EUR 50 000. The Frontex, (2018) report concludes that after paying off of their debt,
some often turn themselves as brokers (madams), recruiting more victims through social media
conversation and supporting the criminal organisation that exploited them.
In Edo State, and Nigeria at large, safe migration awareness campaigns are being conducted or
sponsored by several international institutions such as the International Organization for
Migration, the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some local institutions such as the
National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Edo State Agency against
Human Trafficking are equally contributing to creating awareness of the dangers of irregular
migration. With an understanding that successful information campaigns require proper
targeting, tailored messages and appropriate channels, the Ricosmigration 2018 study was done
to investigate the effectiveness of the campaigns in Nigeria. The Ricosmigration project
improves ongoing information campaign programmes by focusing on students in rural schools
in Edo State and adopting National Youth Corps members as facilitators. While most campaigns
work with the Nigerian media to sensitise the society to the problem of irregular migration, we
believe that many potential migrants in Edo State and other rural areas may not have access to
such media information. They would instead rely on the incomplete information received from
migrant brokers through social media, which may influence them to engage in irregular
migration. Ricosmigration migration awareness campaigns gather accurate information from
migrants in Europe, disseminating such through unique educational campaigns in rural
community schools.
Figure 2: Irregular Migration Route from Nigeria to Europe (Taub, 2017)
The Ricosmigration project was conducted in 4 steps. Step 1 is the production of accurate, safe
migration message with the help of Nigerian victims in Italy. Step 2 is the recruitment and
training of facilitators. Step 3 is randomisation and selection of participating rural schools, and
the treatment and control samples. Step 4 is the implementation and evaluation of the
effectiveness of the campaign.
The information content was produced with the help of the Nigerian victims of trafficking and
smuggling in Italy who followed the irregular migration route. We arranged two focus group
discussion (FGD) with them, separately for males and females. The first FGD was conducted
in Jesi, Ancona for the males. The age of male participants ranges from 20 to 34 years. The
major issues discussed include their migration motivation, migration experiences in transit
countries, and the Mediterranean sea. Finally, two of the participants accepted our proposal to
do a video documentary interview of their migration journey. They talked about why they
migrated, death at the sea, deception and exploitation by migration brokers, experiences with
mafia groups in Libya (Asma boys), and overall unsatisfactory aspects of their experience. This
video would later serve as a visual aid for the awareness campaign in Nigeria. After the FGD
in Jesi, we travelled to Ragusa, a small town in the Sicilian province to meet seven female
Nigerian victims of human trafficking. The age of the participants ranges from 15 to 27 years.
We discussed their experience with sexual exploitation and psychological abuse from the so-
called “madams,” their migration brokers. We discussed how the madams control the
trafficking business both in Nigeria and Italy. The discussion also shifted to the fate of women
forced into sexual slavery in Europe, as a powerful monarch in Edo State has recently lifted the
voodoo that binds agreements with madams3.
While producing the migration message, special care was placed on accuracy and language of
the message. The campaign messages were produced in movie form, leaflet, and lecture note.
The movie is an edited version of the interview granted by the two migrants in Italy, which was
produced in the local language. We also added clips from the IOM Aware migrants project4.
The total time of the video is 30 minutes. The leaflet and lecture note was produced from the
narratives of the migrants and lecture materials collected from the IOM X online course5.
Generally, the messages cover four themes. (1) What is irregular migration; (2) What is human
trafficking; (3) What are the dangers of irregular migration and human trafficking; and (4) What
are the alternatives. In particular, for the dangers of irregular migration, we explained both the
risk in the journey and the difficulties of irregular migrants in Europe.
First, eight NYSC corps members serving in Edo State were recruited by the Ricosmigration
team. The NYSC scheme assigns university graduates to almost all rural communities in
Nigeria for compulsory national service. Most participants work in rural schools as assistant
teachers. For many years, the NYSC scheme has maintained excellent results and has become
one of the most reputable institutions in Nigeria. The scheme is admired by many Nigerian
youths who aspire to undergo the programme upon graduation. The selection procedure
followed an open call for volunteers that was advertised in the Ricosmigration Facebook page.
Two sets of interviews were conducted, and selections were based on previous experience and
teaching ability. Second, the selected volunteers were engaged in the train-the-trainers session
led by the principal investigator of Ricosmigration, the first author of this paper. The training
materials include the video, leaflets and lecture notes explained earlier. The resource persons
included officials of IOM Nigeria, the Edo State Ministry of Education, and the Edo state
command of the National Agency For Prohibition Of Trafficking in Persons.
The experimental design involves the block randomisation of randomly selected ten schools in
five communities in Edo State (Figure 3). The communities include Uhunmwonde, Esan South,
Esan West (Ekpoma), Orhionmwon (Abudu), and Aduwawa. The ten schools were randomly
allocated into four treatment groups: (1) oral presentation only; (2) Oral plus video presentation,
(3) oral plus leaflet presentation, and (4) the control group. A phase-in approach was used for
the control group allowing them to receive the oral presentation at the end of the survey. The
number of students that participated was 7,352. The Ricosmigration team also presented
customised exercise books to all students at the end of each visit.
3 Read more
Data were collected at the baseline and endline from 30 randomly selected student in each
school. To ensure balance, the sampled students are from the senior secondary grade two and
were given the exact quiz to complete. Questions concerning school characteristics were
collected from school management. It included questions on the number of students, closeness
to an urban area, if the school is government-run or privately owned, and the students' previous
knowledge of migration issues. The main data of interest were collected at the end line of the
intervention. It includes the facilitator's assessment of student level of participation during the
sessions and the students’ quiz results.
Figure 3: Randomized Design
The effectiveness of the campaign was evaluated in terms of process outcome, intermediate and
primary outcome. The process outcome data were collected from the facilitator's assessment
report. It authenticates the compliance of the resource person to the treatment. Verifying
questions included if the session covered the four main messages of the campaign, the student
enthusiasm about the sensitisation, student attentiveness during the session, and the level of
participation in the question and answers session. Further verification was done to identify if
the facilitators utilised the channels allocated to them.
The intermediate and primary outcomes were determined through the student quiz. The student
quiz involved 26 questions which they were required to answer at the end of the session. The
questions investigated the student's characteristics, their knowledge, perceived risk of irregular
migration and future migration intention. The student knowledge and perceived risk of irregular
migration were considered the intermediate outcome, while the future migration intention
questions were considered the primary outcome. The student knowledge and risk questions
included the level of understanding of irregular migration and ability to identify five risks of
irregular migration including sexual abuse, psychological abuse, exploitation, slavery and death
(IOM, 2017). The risk question ascertained if the students understood that young people
between the age of 15 and 24 are most vulnerable to being trafficked. We used three proxies to
measure the intended behavioural change. Although measuring actual migration would have
been very desirable to determine the impact of the intervention, this was very difficult due to
time constraints. The proxies considered include the intention to migrate, if the student will
proactively avoid illegal migration brokers, and the student will follow alternatives than
engaging in irregular migration.
Generally, the effectiveness study aims to measure the differential impact of the three types of
channels on the students' knowledge of risk (intermediate outcome), and on future migration
plans (primary outcome). This can be estimated with a logistic regression framework. The
equation for the outcome of each intervention can be summarised as follows:
=+  + +  +
Where is the dependent variable representing a quiz score of a student that received treatment
through a particular channel. This can be 1 if the answer is desirable or 0 if otherwise. For
example, if a student correctly specifies that young people between 15 to 24 years are more
vulnerable to be trafficked, the students are coded 1. is a vector of dummy variables for the
intervention channel received in the school. is a vector of student personal characteristics,
and is a vector of the school characteristics.
To validate the experiment design, a balance test was conducted on characteristics between the
treatment and control groups. A two-sample t-test was conducted to see if the schools selected
in the treatment group is significantly different from the schools selected for the control. Table
1 shows the summary of the variable include in the analysis for both the treatment and control
group. We observe significant differences in some of the pre-treatment characteristics, hence
failing the reject the assumption that the treatment group is statistically identical to the control
group. For instance, 55% of the sample students in control are males against 40% in the
treatment group. Considering that a balance check failed to reject the assumption that the
treatment group is statistically identical to the control group, we controlled for this by including
the school and student characteristics variables as a control vector in all our logistic regression.
Moreover, Bruhn & McKenzie, (2009) observed that balancing in randomisation matters less
for a sample of 300 and above. As a robust test, the logistic regression was done with and
without the school level characteristics. This test did not result to considerable differences.
Finally, the robust standard error was clustered at the school level were used for all analysis.
Table 1: Summary of the variables included in the analysis
Table 2 shows a summary of the process outcome. First, about 7,352 students from 10
secondary schools were reached by the Ricosmigration awareness campaign. It shows that eight
out of the ten schools received the treatment, while the remaining two were controlled.
However, as explained earlier, the control schools equally received an oral presentation at the
end of the student quiz. In general, among the treatment schools, oral presentations were done
in all the treatment schools. Out of these schools, oral presentation plus video documentary was
done in two schools, while oral presentation plus leaflets in two schools and the remaining four
schools were oral only. The facilitators recorded 100% success in the coverage of the four
themes of the campaign message, showing that the students received a relatively similar and
accurate message. The mean duration for each session was 52 minutes. Facilitators assessments
showed that students demonstrated a high level of attentiveness during the sessions, recording
a mean score of 4.3 out of 5. The students were also very enthusiastic about the topic, with a
mean score of 4.6. However, a lower average score of 3.6 was recorded for the students’
participation in the questions and answer period.
Generally, we rate the intervention process as successful. The facilitators were highly
professional and achieved a high level of compliance in delivering the message and in using the
appropriate channel. The use of external facilitators may explain the high level of student's
enthusiasm and attentiveness. As NYSC members are generally accorded a high level of respect
in rural areas, it is not surprising that they were able to attract the student's eagerness. It is
strategic not to use the class teachers, as many students may respond to the sessions as they do
in everyday school lectures, thereby undermining the sensitivity and magnitude of the message.
Table 2: Summary of the Process Outcome
Total Number of School
Total Number of students reached
Number of Student Sampled
Treatment = 1, Control = 0
Oral presentation was done (yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Movies were shown (yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Leaflet was distributed (yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Session include meaning of irregular migration (yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Session include human trafficking(yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Session include dangers of irregular migration (yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Session include how to migrate safely (yes = 1, otherwise = 0)
Student attentiveness score (Likert scale from 1 = very low to 5 = very high)
Student enthusiastic score (Likert scale from 1 = very low to 5 = very high)
Students performance in question and answer session (Likert scale from 1 = very low to 5
= very high)
Duration of the session (Minutes)
Table 3 provides the result of the intermediate outcome measured by the students’ knowledge
and perceived risk of irregular migration after the intervention. All the treatment groups have a
positive influence on the variables. In each column, the green bar indicates a higher influence
compared to the red bar which shows lower influence. In column 1, the outcome measured is if
the student can differentiate between safe and irregular migration. While the only oral
presentation does not provide a significant difference between the treatment and control group,
the oral presentation plus leaflet intervention and oral presentation plus video showed
significant differences. The students who participated in the oral presentation plus leaflet
intervention had 4.9 times higher odds of understanding the meaning of irregular migration than
the students who did not participate in the campaign. Furthermore, students who participated in
the oral presentation plus video presentation are 5.4 times more likely to be able to differentiate
the difference between safe and irregular migration than students who do not participate.
Students may quickly forget what they learn through oral presentation only, but when visual
aids such as leaflets or movies are introduced, students may be able to retain the knowledge for
a longer time.
Columns 2 and 3 show how the student perceives the risk and dangers associated with irregular
migration. It enquired if the students were able to understand that young people between 15
and 25 years are most at risk of being a victim of human trafficking and if they could identify
up to five risks of irregular migration. Both the oral presentation plus leaflet and oral
presentation plus video intervention increased the knowledge of the risk. In particular, the oral
presentation plus video intervention increased the knowledge of the risk of irregular migration
by more than 50 per cent. This is expected as the movies included emotional scenes of the
dangers migrants face in Libya and Italy, as well as the warning from victims in Italy about the
difficulties in obtaining a permit and settling down in Europe as an irregular migrant. Students
responded more to this video, and it was expected that they would remember these warnings
for a long time. More students that received the leaflet presentation were able to understand and
recall all the five dangers of irregular migration than any other group. The odds of knowing up
to five risks of irregular dangers migration is two times higher for those that received leaflet
presentation than the control group.
The antic and process of human trafficking are generally not common knowledge in Nigeria
and are usually not discussed in schools. Facilitators explained the process of human trafficking
including the means, act and purpose. The level of students' knowledge of human trafficking
was measured at the end of the intervention. In columns 4 and 5, Students in the treatment group
recorded a higher understanding of the meaning and process of human trafficking than those in
the control group. The level of understanding seems to be significant for students that received
oral presentation only, and oral presentation plus leaflet. Although the students that received
video presentation recorded positive odd ratios, this seemed not to be a significant increment
when compared to the control group. The reason for this may be due to the technical
shortcoming of the video presentation. In the oral presentation, the student could easily interrupt
the facilitator to ask questions, and may quietly reference the leaflet to get a full understanding
of the concepts taught. These privileges were not available during the video presentation, as it
was shown only once. To improve the performance of the video in further interventions, we
must make the movies freely available to the students in a sharable format.
Table 3: Result of the Intermediate Outcome
1 2 3 4 5
K1_Safe: Knows
the difference
between safe and
irregular migration
K2_Risk: Know
that young people
are most at risk of
being trafficked
K3_Dangers: Knows
up to five risks of
irregular migration
K4_Trafficking 1:
Knows the meaning
of human
Can explain the process
of human trafficking
only 5.02 2.33
leaflet 4.86 22.84 2.06 6.88 21.16
video 5.4 >50
Table report odds ratios from logistic regression with several control variables. Significant level include 1%, 5%, and 10%. White bars
means not significant.
Table 4 presents the result of the primary outcome, intended migration behaviour. Three proxies
were used to examine the intended migration behaviour. The first is the migration likelihood,
which shows whether a student still has the intention to migrate after the end of the intervention.
It is expected that the intention to migrate would be lower for the participants of the information
campaign than the control participants. The second question examined if the student would be
able to identify and avoid human traffickers. This was an open-ended question where the
students were asked to write what they would do if they are approached by a travelling agent
(migration brokers, and madams) to facilitate a journey to Europe. The last question was also
an open-ended inquiry asking if the student understood the procedure and were willing to follow
other alternatives like securing study scholarship, obtaining a national passport, applying for a
legitimate travelling purpose, and securing an appropriate visa. The student who attended the
sensitisation programme should be able to follow this alternative procedure.
Table 4: Result of the Primary Outcome
Table report odds ratios from logistic regression with several control variables Significant level include 1%, 5%, and 10%. White bars means
nor significant.
The results showed that all the intervention reduces the likelihood of migration at a different
level of odds ratios. This implies that the impact varies across the intervention. Compared to
the control group, the reduction in the migration likelihood as a result of the oral presentation
is not significant, while the impact from the other two channels was very significant. Further,
we show that the impact of oral presentation plus leaflet is higher than that of the video
presentation. Generally, there was a 32 per cent decrease in migration intention for those that
were in the oral presentation plus leaflet session. All interventions, especially the oral
presentation plus video resulted in a significant increase in the students’ intended behavioural
change. Students that participated in the oral presentation plus video session are more than 50
times more likely to show increased perceived ability to avoid human traffickers than the
control groups. The odds ratios are equally as high, exceeding 50% increment on the decision
to follow alternatives such as scholarships. Those who received an only oral presentation and
oral presentation plus leaflet also reported a significant increment in the decision to follow
alternatives than the control groups, but the magnitude is lower compared to the oral
presentation plus video.
1 2 3
Impact on migration
A1_Intention: Have the intention
to migration
A3_Avoid: Will be able to avoid
being a victim of human trafficking
A4_Safely: Will take
Y1_oral only 1.68
Y2_plus leaflet
0.61 17.25
Y3_plus video 0.003 >50 >50
The fact that oral presentations did not have a high impact on student knowledge, perceived
risk, and future migration plans suggest that, at least in the context under which our intervention
was done, an oral presentation alone is not sufficient to motivate a change in the migration
attitude. There was a definite added advantage to the impact of the intervention when visual aid
such as leaflets and videos were added. We opine that while the oral presentation is necessary
for explanation and responding to question, it is the visual aids that ensured enthusiasm and
retentiveness of the messages. Our result generally showed that the migration awareness
intervention supported with leaflet and video presentations could project a lasting image on the
minds of the participants, which is capable of deterring irregular migration attempts. Although
the addition of visual aid may mean higher project cost, the marginal impact extensively
outweighs the extra cost.
Irregular migration is increasing due to the deceptions of illegal migration brokers and the
increased exchange of information between brokers and potential victims through social media.
Despite implementing information campaigns in many countries to deter irregular migration,
there is limited evidence on the programme performance and effectiveness surveys in academic
literature (Tjaden et al., 2018). To fill this research gap, we implemented and evaluated the
effectiveness of migration information campaign among secondary school students in Edo
State, Nigeria. The objectives are to implement the campaign using an effective process tailored
to the target group, examine the impact on migration knowledge of the participants, and
Investigate the impact of the campaign on the participants’ intended behavioural change.
The result suggests that information campaigns can be an effective intervention for reducing
irregular migration in high migrating areas, where young people are highly exposed to human
trafficking. We learned that sensitisation and awareness campaigns are capable of tackling the
new challenges concerning irregular migration including the deceptions of illegal migration
brokers and human traffickers, as well as the unchecked digitalised information between the
brokers and potential victims through social media. Our randomised intervention in rural
schools in Edo State, Nigeria, found that treated students responded appropriately to the
awareness campaign by showing more ability to understand the dangers of irregular migration
and how to say no to irregular migration. Receiving accurate and complete information that
included the dangers on the migration route and the conditional realities at the final destination
increased knowledge of irregular migration. Our experiment showed that this could reduce the
risk of being a victim of human trafficking by more than 50 per cent. It could also reduce the
desire to engage in irregular migration by more than 30 per cent and increased the decision to
take necessary steps to avoid human traffickers and follow alternative livelihood by more than
50 per cent.
The main finding from the process outcome is that the intervention channels matters, given that
the oral presentation plus visual aid components of the intervention seemed more effective than
the oral only intervention. The oral presentation is needed for an explanation, but it is the visual
aids that raised the enthusiasm and attentiveness of the students, which promote long-lasting
impact. Students were capable of responding to desired changes through an information
campaign facilitated by external volunteers. It was a subtle decision not to use the school
teachers, as students may treat the message as an everyday class lecture. The use of external
volunteers not only aroused the interest of the students but also accurately communicated the
importance of the message.
Another finding suggests that incentives and forms of empowerment are not necessarily needed
to change young people’s mindsets about irregular migration. It is essential to know that at the
end of each experiment, all the students - including those not selected for a quiz - received
customised exercise books with migration information. This does not imply incentive to act;
neither did it influence the student's responses, but acts instead as a constant reminder. Without
incentives, students were able to articulate their responses and showcase their new knowledge
of the dangers of irregular migration, which translated to a reduced intention to migration and
a higher understanding of alternatives to irregular migration.
Finally, providing accurate and credible information is critical. In the experiment, we provided
information from the dangers and risk experienced on the desperate journey from Nigeria to
Europe, and the predicaments of irregular immigrants once in Europe. While there was
generally some previous knowledge of migration issues, participants had incomplete
information about the lifestyles of irregular migrants abroad. There was a gross misconception
among respondents that living abroad is better than life in Nigeria, irrespective of the migrants
status. It is therefore imperative that accurate and complete information including integration
processes and actual lifestyles of migrants are communicated in migration information
Ricosmigration acknowledges the funding from the German Foreign Office. The efforts put by
organisations and individuals that partnered in the project is recognised. Special thanks go to
the Fondazione San Giovanni Battista in Ragusa, Italy for assisting during the focus group
discussion in Italy. We thank the IOM Nigeria and NAPTIP, Edo Command for technical
support. We equally appreciate the Ricosmigration volunteers that facilitated the awareness
campaigns in the secondary schools and Maggie Andersen who did the language editing. The
views expressed here are solely that of the authors.
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... No evaluations have measured how increased awareness or knowledge affects individual behaviors and, in turn, how different behaviors might affect incidence or prevalence of human trafficking or modern slavery (13). Studies examining awareness-raising and knowledgebuilding activities, including those using experimental designs, have stopped at the point of assessing whether messages were learned by the participants vs. tracking how the new knowledge was applied or measuring how it affected migration-related safety or trafficking outcomes (10,14,15). To date, there are no data indicating modifiable factors or actionable targets to reduce "vulnerability" to trafficking. ...
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