The EU Action plan against migrant smuggling (COM(2015)285) states that raising awareness of the risks of smuggling and irregular migration is crucial for preventing prospective migrants and asylum seekers, including people in more vulnerable situations such as children, from embarking on hazardous journeys towards the EU. To this end, the Action Plan foresees the launch of information and awareness raising campaigns in key countries of origin or transit for migrants. It points to the importance of creating a counter-narrative in the media to oppose misleading information provided by migrant smugglers, including through social media and with the involvement of diaspora communities in the EU.
The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund has already awarded several grants for information and awareness raising activities following previous Calls for Proposals. In 2018, following the Call for Proposals AMIF-2017-AG-INFO, six projects have been awarded and are being implemented in third countries of origin and transit of irregular migration. The grants to be awarded following the AMIF-2018-AG-INTE-05 Call for Proposals are engaging and empowering the voice of diaspora communities within the EU to provide information and raise awareness to counter migrant smugglers' narratives for prospective migrant in third countries. This Call for Proposals aims to build on the results and expertise gathered over the last few years, in order to improve effectiveness of outreach to the target audiences.
The decision to embark on an irregular journey to Europe is often characterised by the fact of overlooking the risks for the potential reward. Potential migrants might either overestimate the likelihood of a successful outcome, fail to make a conscious assessment based on evidence or disregard the likely risks altogether. Shortcomings in past information and awareness raising activities have often pointed to the following:
- Few potential migrants receive information or consider it useful;
- Migrants did not trust certain information channels and while there was an abundance of reporting on the migratory situation, resorting to and trusting reliable news and information was still scarce;
- Negative information presented in campaigns was either not believed, or was insufficient to overcome the appeal of the alternative positive information presented by friends, family or smugglers;
- Some migrants chose to disregard the information presented, as they felt that they had no other choice than to migrate.
A recent study published by the European Commission as well as analysis done for the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, the implementation of communication campaigns with components targeted at origin, transit and destination countries could influence and reduce irregular migrant flows to Europe. The key challenge is in delivering this information through sources the target audience trusts. It also finds that communication campaigns should consider the following elements for better outcomes:
- The need to separate the sources of information that influence and encourage the aspiration to migrate from the sources of information that lead to departure, and determine the smuggling process and route;
- The need to address aspirations to migrate irregularly, by seeking to counterbalance the not always realistic views of Europe;
- The need to engage more directly in the migrants' decision-making process by providing timely information, which would help migrants assess properly the likely rewards of risky behaviour, rather than just focusing on the risks themselves;
- The need to use communication channels tailored to the specific groups of the target audience (e.g. internet, television, social media, print etc.);
- The need to nuance communication targeting migrants in transit, by helping them to assess and weigh up the known costs of remaining or the stigma around the ‘failure’ of being returned on the one hand, against the unknown risks, costs and/or rewards of migrating irregularly onwards to Europe on the other hand;
- The need to work with communities in countries of origin to soften the stigma of return, to change perspectives on returnees and to support the re-integration processes and reconciliation with families;
- The role of network connections, such as family and friends in the transit or destination country in determining destination choices, for both regular and irregular migration journeys.
The general objective of the information and awareness raising campaigns is to communicate objective information about the perils and difficulties of voyages and about the legal, social and economic realities of life in Europe, to prospective migrants, vulnerable communities, diaspora members and local media outlets. Ultimately, these campaigns should enable asylum seekers and migrants to make informed decisions about their movements and plans for the future. In addition, information campaigns should also emphasise the option/alternative of voluntarily returning to countries of origin for those not in need of international protection, who feel their expectations do not match the reality either on route or in Europe.
The present call for proposals aims at funding projects of information and awareness raising campaigns in the area of migration in the following third countries: Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia (with a focus on preventing irregular migration and, in particular, migrant smuggling, as defined in the AMIF work programme for 2019. The campaigns in third countries may be complemented by components in Europe that focus on engaging the target audiences’ network connections.
The general objective of the present call for proposals is to contribute to the change of perceptions and behaviour of third country nationals pondering irregularly migrating to the
EU and key influencers of their decisions.
The goal of the present call for proposals is to support actions that pursue the following specific objectives:
- to provide trusted, factual, balanced information on the risks of irregular migration – during the journey (dangers of migrating irregularly) and after arrival (hardship of living in the EU irregularly and return), as well as on relevant legal alternatives of migration and on available economic opportunities in the country or region of origin;
- to empower credible voices in countering migrant smugglers' narratives on irregular migration and the diasporas' narratives on living irregularly in the EU;
- to strengthen multi-stakeholder cooperation between actors such as civil society organisations, researchers, media outlets, local state actors, diaspora and where relevant other stakeholders;
- to enhance the sustainability of communication activities and results of the campaign.
Project proposals submitted under the present call for proposals should build on the lessons learnt from the past and on-going information and awareness raising campaigns and activities in the area of preventing irregular migration and migrant smuggling, including those implemented by the EU, Member States and International Organisations. The projects should seek synergies with ongoing communication activities being implemented under actions funded by the EU, such as the relevant projects co-funded by AMIF, and projects funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa, as well as, where relevant, with those implemented by EU Member States, International Organisations and other partners.
Each project proposal should target a single third country, unless the target communities are established in or transiting across several countries. The reasons behind these choices should be clearly explained and justified in the application. Applicants may submit more than one proposal and, therefore, apply for more than one grant. The budget limitations for each project provided under section 5.2 must be respected.
Proposals which focus on information and awareness raising campaigns targeting only diaspora within EU Member States and lacking engagement with third country stakeholders will be rejected under the call for proposals.
Project proposals should include all the following components:
- Preparatory research, in view of developing a tailored communication strategy for the project, in particular to identify the migration context, target audience(s) of the communication activities, its (their) characteristics, motivations, information needs and gaps as well as communication channels and tools, as to design the most effective approach to influence its (their) behaviour. The preparatory research should also rely on results and lessons learnt from previous campaigns and communication activities carried out in the same country and should use available primary and secondary data and own analysis.
- A tailored communication strategy based on the outcome of the preparatory research, in particular to define:
- the target audience and its segmentation (gender, age, education, profession, etc.);
- the geographical scope of the campaign based on the target audience identified (which country/region and which part of that country in particular) and the specific migratory context (country of origin vs transit or destination);
- a comprehensive concept, including the overarching idea for the campaign structure, the key messages to be used throughout the period of implementation of the activities and the key visual elements;
- a creative approach allowing for participation and feedback from the target audience, e.g. by fostering use of smartphone apps and text messaging for both multiplication and monitoring/feedback purposes;
- the communication channels to be used depending on the target audience, ensuring a mix of traditional and social media, including media-buying plan where appropriate, as well as local or community level outreach, and taking into account the habits of each segment of the target audience in terms of media access and consumption as well as access and use of trusted information;
- alternative communication tools where appropriate, such as theatre plays, community-led debates, contests (e.g. photo, song, video) and awards (e.g. for journalists), school visits, testimonials, involvement of celebrities etc., adapting them to the habits and characteristics of each context and segment of the target audience;
- detailed plan for the roll-out and management of the campaign;
- key performance indicators (KPIs), both qualitative and quantitative, with baseline and targets to be used to monitor the implementation and to assess the result of the campaign from the outset.
- The production and implementation of the communication campaign, in particular:
- pre-testing of concepts and content of the campaign on sample/focus groups of identified target audience;
- production of content of the campaign;
- rolling-out of the communication activities;
- Monitoring and evaluation of the results and impact of the campaign, in particular:
- collecting and analysing of the key performance indicators (KPIs) defined in the communication strategy;
- providing for adjustments of the on-going campaign if necessary;
- allowing for lessons learnt and good practices for future campaigns;
- A strategy for the sustainability of the campaign activities, in particular:
- engaging with state and non-state actors, throughout the campaign, with a view to sharing know-how and best practices, raising their awareness and building ownership;
Further considerations applicable to this topic
The campaigns should seek to directly address both prospective migrants and their key influencers, such as families, religious or community leaders, teachers, diaspora in main countries of transit and destination, returning migrants, social contacts, providers of services facilitating migration, etc.
To ensure the viability of the campaigns, applicants should organise consultations with relevant authorities of the country subject of the proposal throughout the different phases of the project (conception, implementation, evaluation and sustainability).
Applicants should develop country-specific and audience-tailored messages for the proposed campaign. However, these messages should in general address the following:
- Irregular migration often entails unbearable physical and mental suffering along the journey, as a consequence of engaging with and being misled by migrant smugglers. The risks for children, especially unaccompanied, and for women are particularly high;
- The cost of migration is often much higher than expected and often leads to loss of money and accumulation of debts which are not compensated for upon arrival (if arrived at all);
- Those who enter the EU irregularly and are not in need of protection will be returned; voluntary returns is possible from transit countries;
- While success stories are possible, living in the EU irregularly is very often much harder than expected; diaspora may depict a bright scenario, ashamed to unveil the hardships faced in reality;
- If relevant, communicate the legal pathways that exist for both those who migrate for work/education and for those who seek protection;
- Alternatives to migration exist in countries of origin or neighbouring countries/region and are supported financially by the EU and EU Member States that help to build the local economy and address the root causes of irregular migration;
- Soften the stigma of return in countries of origin, to change perspectives on returnees and to promote success stories of re-integration support and reconciliation with families;
Given the significance of behavioural change in the context of information and awareness raising campaigns, insights from psychology, sociology and behavioural economics could help to target and design communication activities and to measure their effects. Behavioural sciences seek to understand how people make decisions in practice; how their behaviour is influenced by the context in which their decisions are made and how they are likely to respond to specific policy initiatives. Applicants are encouraged to embed a behavioural approach to their proposals by:
- identifying the potential behavioural element (i.e. the cause) of the action;
- proposing behavioural levers that can be used to induce behavioural change (e.g. by adapting content of messages, using reference to social norms, addressing misconceptions, raising knowledge, acting upon individual responsibility, perceived norms and loss aversion, framing of the message or adapting the source of the message);
- introducing behavioural element as an indicator for measuring the expected and actual impact of the initiatives.
The projects should lead to the following key deliverables for the corresponding components:
- report from the targeted preparatory research carried out in order to develop the tailored communication strategy;
- tailored communication strategy document, including definition of the geographical scope (e.g. if target communities established or transiting across several countries), audience segmentation, selection of topics and messages, plan for the use of tailored media and alternative communication channels, detailed plan for the roll-out of the campaign, etc.;
- monitoring and evaluation methodology document, including credible baseline and targets for key performance indicators (KPIs) for all elements of the campaign covering inputs, outputs, outcomes and impact of the communication activities;
- content of the information and awareness raising campaign, including products and services designed, produced and disseminated during the campaign;
- quarterly monitoring reports, including on implementation, contingencies and adjustment measures and progress towards achieving the proposed key performance indicators;
- a mid-term progress report using the standard form that will be available on the Participant Portal;
- a final report including the results, as well as the observations from the monitoring and evaluation of the project.
The projects financed under this priority should achieve the following outcomes:
- Increase awareness among prospective migrants on the risks of irregular migration and migrant smuggling, the relevant legal alternatives of migration and economic opportunities in the country or region of origin; as well as opportunities of voluntary return and reintegration programs from countries of transit;
- empower credible voices in countering migrant smugglers' narratives on irregular migration and the diasporas' narratives on living irregularly in the EU;
- strengthen multi-stakeholder cooperation between actors such as civil society
- organisations, researchers, media outlets, local state actors, diaspora and where relevant other stakeholders;
- enhance the sustainability of communication activities and provide a sound evaluation of results of the campaign.
How West African migrants engage with migration information en-route to Europe – Study on communication
channels used by migrants and asylum seekers to obtain information in countries of origin and transit, with
particular focus on on-line and social media, Seefar and Optimity advisors for the European Commission, October
Raising awareness, changing behavior? – Combatting irregular migration through information campaigns,
D.Schans, C. Optekamp, November 2016
This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
Currently ten campaigns and communication activities are supported by AMIF, the following through direct awards (e.g. InfoMigrants - http://www.infomigrants.net/en/) and Telling the real story (http://tellingtherealstory.org/) as well as those campaigns following project funded following the Calls for Proposals AMIF-2017-AG-INFO and AMIF-2018-AG-INTE-05)
Please refer to the European Commission Toolkit on evaluation of communication activities https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-evaluation-toolkit_en.pdf