Their money transfers back home -- also known as remittances -- is usually enough to feed three to four people on average.
Navigating twisted channels
And there's another problem to contend with: Without their own bank account, many of the migrants and their relatives have to process transfers via financial service providers such as Western Union, Moneygram or Ria.
If money transfers decline during the coronavirus pandemic, the consequences would be fatal for some.
With the economy on the verge of collapse in many African countries, money transfers are sometimes the only source of income that money poor families rely on.
And that's the kind of money that many governments can't easily find: The pandemic is expected to shrink the economy by more than 5% this year, as the continent prepares to face its first recession in 25 years.