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Emergency Trust Fund for Africa
News article25 March 2020

In Ghana, street art reinforces social cohesion, bridging the gap between returnees and their communities

In Ghana, street art reinforces social cohesion, bridging the gap between returnees and their communities

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), is one of the main sponsors of the 2019 IMD events organised in the city of Takoradi, Ghana.

On 18 December 2019, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), brought together community members and returnees to collectively paint a mural on a community library perched atop a hill, overlooking the fishing community, as well as a building next to St. Peter’s Catholic Church and a school in the coastal city of New Takoradi.

Throughout the day, over 100 community members passed by, picking up paint brushes and putting their touches on the mural, under the guidance of Takoradi-based graffiti artist Ian Kwakye.

Children peeked out from the neighbouring school and interacted with the painters during their breaks. A group of graduates from National Vocational Training Institute, including returnees, contributed to the piece. When reflecting on the event, Ian remarked: “It was exciting to see all kinds of people, young and old, women and men, join spontaneously. As a graffiti artist, it’s really gratifying to see my belief in the power of art to create bridges come to life.”

In Ghana, street art reinforces social cohesion, bridging the gap between returnees and their communities

The purpose of the workshop was to promote social inclusion, and the design was conceptualised in a way that made it accessible to anybody, without needing any artistic or painting experience: large abstract geometric shapes, popping warm colours. The simple shapes were chosen to make it easy to paint and increase the participation. And indeed, many people did.

The artwork Ian Kwakye designed followed a concept taking cues from a participatory street art initiative devised by IOM Regional Office and previously organised in Niger and Ivory Coast with great community engagement. Following this positive experience, IOM Ghana is ambitious to repeat the initiative in other regions of the country in the months to come.

The activity was part of a series of events organised at the occasion of International Migrants Day (IMD), a day marked by the UN to ensure the rights and dignity of all migrants and to recognise the positive effects migrants have on development.

This year, IOM and GIS joined forces to create a mixed programme – a traditional games tournament, addresses from dignitaries and returnees, and a performance, concert and youth seminar by rap artist and IOM Goodwill Ambassador Kofi Kinaata, as well as a float and a medical screening. There was something for everyone and the various activities functioned as vehicles to bring to the community the call for safe migration and reminding of the risks of irregular migration.

Launched in December 2016, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration is the first comprehensive programme to save lives, protect and assist migrants along key migration routes in Africa.


Publication date
25 March 2020
Region and Country
Improved migration management
International Organization for Migration

Programmes in the region