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Strengthening decentralisation

Regulation and integration policies must be sufficiently decentralised to adapt to local needs and be embedded in the general local socio-economic development strategies (OECD, 2006). This is particularly true in many developing countries, where labour markets are relatively isolated and individual integration first plays out at the local level (see Box 5.1).

Under these circumstances, the onus largely falls on local and traditional leaders to help integrate and maximise social cohesion between old and new members of society. Local leaders are in the best position to understand their community's ability to shape social capital and reduce tension between immigrants and locals. This may include provisions that allow immigrants entering through informal channels to register locally with ease, a task which can be delegated to local leaders.

Furthermore, local authorities have better knowledge of local problems. In this sense, they may react faster and communicate strategies and solutions more quickly. Because authorities are closer to households, the potential for corruption may be lower, for altruistic reasons and also because managing smaller regions and groups is easier, and the reverse relationship - accountability - more binding. In addition, in many countries traditional leaders exercise more influence over households than does the central government. They may be more adapted to dealing with local customs, working habits, language, and business culture.

Finally, the decentralisation process implies that all administrative levels are better prepared to deal with all dimensions of migration, in particular through improved capacity building (IOM, 2010b). The fight against human trafficking, for instance, requires training of police and custom officers, but also of social workers and magistrates. In this respect, international co-operation can complement decentralisation and improve field capacity by enabling transfers of expertise. The IOM and the African Capacity-Building Centre, for instance, have been working closely with the Ghana Immigration Service in training border guards on migration management, trafficking and data collection. The training also focuses on working with local decision makers and on the particularities of each migration corridor.

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