Swiss Subsaharan Africa Migration Network


The objective of the Swiss Subsaharan Africa Migration (S-SAM) network is to build and strengthen long-term partnerships between migration researchers in Subsaharan Africa and Switzerland.

The inaugural call was launched in summer 2018, the second call followed in spring 2019 (closed 15 April 2019, we are currently evaluating the submissions). Within the large field of human migration, we focus on aspects of migration to Europe before migrants reach their destination. This includes the following topics:


- Reasons and motivations to migrate. Here we seek novel research on aspirations and abilities to migrate, on the nature of different ‘pull’ effects and the choice of destination country, or on the role of information in decisions to migrate. Research may focus on questions of preparations, anticipation of problems ‘en route’ and in the country of destination (e.g. discrimination), or on similarities and differences between South-South and South-North migration.

- Student migration. Here we seek novel research on student migration from Subsaharan Africa to Switzerland and Europe, as a specific motivation to migrate.

- Migration and health. Here we seek novel research on the situation ‘en route’ to Europe, how health affects decisions to migrate (or stay put), how the migration experience itself affects the mental and physical health of migrants, or the migration trajectories of health workers.

Methodologically and with regards to academic discipline, S-SAM is open, but innovative and experimental research is encouraged, as is a focus on social mechanisms.

FAQ for the Spring Call

Q: Can I still apply?

A: No, the call is now closed.

Q: When will I hear whether I have been successful?

A: We are currently evaluating the submissions. This should not take more than a few weeks. We will contact everyone, please bear with us.

Q: How do I apply?

A: Submit your application online as indicated at the end of the call.

Q: I have applied in 2018, can I apply again?

A: Yes.

Current Projects

  • Bushfalling

    Pilgrims’ Progress: Negotiating bushfalling among Anglophone Cameroonian youth    

    Objective: Using the notion of bushfalling (migration as 'hunting' and bringing trophies to the families back home), this project explores the reasons and motivations of Cameroonian youth bushfalling. What new forms of push factors propel and sustain the notion of bushfalling? Methods: Qualitative ethnographic research methods in a multi-sited approach: in-depth interviews, life histories and non-participant observation of would-be migrants. Use of short films to get informants to tell their stories about motivations to migrate. Expected results: Identify the different pull factors that informs prospective migrants' destination, the role of migration syndicates in determining the destination, and the role Social Media regarding migration.

    Henrietta Mambo Nyamnjoh
    University of Cape Town
    Pilot (6 months)


  • Students

    Social network and student mobility from Côte d’Ivoire to France and Switzerland

    Objective: The objective of this study is to analyse the influence of social networks on Ivorian student mobility to Europe. We examine the influence of the social network on the decision making and the role of the network in the selection of the host countries. Methods: We conduct qualitative interviews with different student migrants at various stages of their migratory project. To capture the role of the social network in the migratory project, we also interview members their family and friend. Expected results: We will provide a better understanding on the different ways the Ivoirian students use their network to realize their project to study abroad. We will identify the main obstacles encountered and the individual and collective strategy adopted by the student to overcome them.  

    Simon Barussaud
    University of Geneva
    Exchange (3 months)

    Franck Dago
    University Félix Houphouet-Boigny
    Pilot (3 months)


  • Non-state Actors

    Understanding the role of Non- state Actors in West African Migration as tools for information dissemination and inclusive policy making

    Objective: In many European countries, governments have established structures for involving non-state actors in the migration policy dialogue (e.g., http://www.mdplatform.ch). This project maps the current interactions between State and non-state actors in migration policy making and implementation in West Africa (where their interaction with state actors is sketchy, ad-hoc and need based), with an emphasis on the role of non-state actors in information dissemination (especially towards potential migrants and returnees) and inclusion in the migration policy dialogue. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with identified state and non-state actors and focus groups (where possible). Interviews will be carried out in Europe and selected West African States. An online survey will be designed for stakeholders that cannot be interviewed. Expected results: Understanding what role non-state actors can play in information dissemination in the society at large, and with that contribute to changing the negative perception of state actors in West Africa on non-state actors, resulting in more inclusive migration governance in the region.

    Amanda Bisong
    University of Nigeria
    Exchange (2 months)

Mailing List

To sign up to the S-SAM mailinglist be notified about further calls and other announcements, or if you want to know more about S-SAM, please send an e-mail didier.ruedin@unine.ch.

S-SAM is funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) through Leading House for sub-Saharan Africa at the Swiss TPH.

Last modified: 21 April 2019