Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Migrating out of Poverty UK team meets with the Department for International Development

Migrating out of Poverty has received funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) for several years. On the 24 April a team of staff visited our team at the University of Sussex to catch up on cutting edge research and share information on policy formulation.

We were able to provide feedback on the next phase of our work, including:
  • Understanding the nuances and changes within social relations in migrant families and analysing the responsibilities and freedoms involved for both migrants and those staying behind in terms of gender and generation.
  • Examining the range of informal actors involved in the migration industry and how these actors impact on the welfare, rights, freedom and economic status of migrants and their families. This work is generating evidence that can be utilised by DFID in their “whole of route” approaches to reduce migrant vulnerability.
  • Sharing ways to promote safe and regular migration into Thailand from neighbouring countries.
  • Looking at (forced) migration to and evictions between low-income areas of cities, with a focus on trapped populations in Bangladesh, Somaliland, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.
  • Thinking through the significance of informal, under the radar and peer-to-peer community-based responses that support migrants in destination countries.
  • The potential of temporary migration schemes and their developmental impact in post-Brexit Britain.

DFID shared information on their work to help shape the Global Compact on Migration, action on modern slavery, policy formulation to address internally displaced people’s needs, the role of social networks in shaping migration flows, the protection of people taking dangerous migration routes, maximising the socio-economic benefits of migration, particularly in relation to remittances.

Priya Deshingkar, the Research Director for Migrating out of Poverty, reflected: “This was a valuable opportunity for us to better understand policy priorities within DFID and where the evidence gaps are as well as how our research could contribute to filling these gaps.”

Monday, 7 May 2018

Peter Evans from the Department for International Development (DFID) visits the Migrating Out of Poverty Ghana team

By Emmanuel Quarshie

On the 1 May 2018 Peter Evans, Team Leader - Governance, Conflict & Social Development (GCSD) Research Team, DFID Research and Evidence Division at the UK Department for International Development visited the Migrating Out of Poverty research team in Ghana based at the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS), University of Ghana. The May Day visit enabled discussions around the work that the team have been doing on migration and poverty over the last few years.

Professor Mariama Awumbila, the principal investigator gave a briefing on the setting up of CMS and its role in teaching, research, and policy development. She gave an overview of the three phases of the research so far, focusing especially on the phase three research projects which were just beginning, on gender and generation, income and remittances and the migration industry. Professor Joseph Teye, the current director of the Centre, summarized some of the key findings from Ghana, for example:
  • While poor households find it difficult to embark on international migration, they are able to access destinations within Ghana and other African countries.
  • Internal migration is contributing positively to the well being of migrant’s households through remittances. We therefore need to incorporate internal migration into development policy in Ghana.  
  • The majority of migrants live in informal settlements – despite it being a harsh environment, with little social protection. They perceive that their overall well-being has been enhanced by migration.
  • Movements into informal settlements might be associated with reduction in overall poverty and improvements in general well-being. Informal settlements are not places of despair, they offer poor migrants business opportunities that are not available at the place where they come from. 
  • Neglecting informal urban communities would not simply deter rural-urban migrants from settling in these areas. Slum upgrading is a better policy choice.
  • Female migration and the remittances that they send are gradually changing power relations and gender roles in the household.
  • Although there are clear cases of exploitation, brokers sometimes work in the interests of migrants, thereby increasing the latter’s bargaining power, enhancing the realisation of their self-development and allowing them to exercise agency in highly unequal power relations with employers.
  • Uncritically labeling recruitment agencies and brokers purely as agents of exploitation, and migrant domestic workers as victims without any agency, does not reflect the entire situation.
  • The migration industry is made up of different types of recruiters with different interests, clients, practices, and recruiting for different employers. One common strategy/policy will not be efficient for regulating all actors in the industry.

The National Migration Policy and MENOM

The DFID team acknowledged the instrumental role CMS has played in facilitating  the development of Ghana’s National Migration Policy as well as the draft Diaspora Engagement Policy. Professor Awumbila noted that some of the key findings of the Migrating out of Poverty research had been fed into the National Migration Policy including an expansion of the focus to include internal and intra-regional migration. 

Also, she highlighted the Centre’s role in innovative research uptake activities, including facilitating the establishment and development of the Media Network on Migration (MENOM), which has been very instrumental in the dissemination of key research findings as well as providing of updates on key activities carried out by the Centre.   She recounted that although historically, there has been some reporting on migration issues in Ghana, the little rapportage focused more on the negative effects of migration. As a result, CMS saw it as a great opportunity to train journalists as part of its research uptake activities. Currently, a case study is being developed on MENOM which may serve as a useful guide for other organisations to adopt.

The DFID team complimented the Migrating out of Poverty Ghana research team at CMS for their contributions to influence the migration research agenda in Ghana and particularly on efforts to ensure research uptake by various stakeholders as well as their instrumental role within the policy environment in Ghana and Africa. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

We study migration but we want people working in development to listen

Conversation initiated by project coordinator Dorte Thorsen, University of Sussex

Grasping the impact of changing migration flows and earning prospects of migrants on the family members who remain at home is important for development planning, youth-oriented initiatives, targeted programming for the empowerment of women and girls, and migration management. The lead researchers in our comparative study focusing on gender and generation dynamics at the household level outline how they hope the research in Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal and Zimbabwe can inform programming, advocacy and policy. They discuss the fresh insights the study will provide into how gender, age and migration intersect.

Mainstreaming gender into local authorities’ understanding of migration outcomes

Akosua Darkwah: In looking at the impacts of migration for both young men and women who move as well as those who stay behind, this research will provide law and policy makers with a more fine-grained understanding of the impacts of migration on male/female migrants as well as family and community members left behind.

Vupenyu Dzingirai: In Zimbabwe law makers remain ambivalent about what migration can do or bring. Sometimes they regard migration as harmful to societies, and at other times they regard it as a tainted benefit that requires control. In my view, communicating to these authorities, plainly and through popular formats, that the empowering and disempowering practices of migration to those women who stay behind and those who are at destinations outside Zimbabwe may go a long way to preparing them to make better decisions about migration and its outcomes. Hopefully, this will result in a relaxation of regulation of mobility of people and goods across borders.

Benoît Tine: In Senegal, there is no real migration policy* even though migration peaked at the end of the 2000s in a context of scarce employment, impoverishment and the decline of agriculture in rural areas. Local authorities tend to see migration as the domain of men, and it is a fact that male migrants are often the majority but other categories of migrants have become part of the scene. Women migrate, as do adolescents and even younger children. In Casamance, we also have the effect of the conflict which has provoked a change in social roles with a physical or symbolic absence of men. A better understanding of migration in its gendered dimension will certainly broaden the field of vision and lead decision-makers to take this gender reality into account in their policies.

Adamnesh Bogale: Ethiopian authorities are highly aware of the risks associated with migration being gendered but I think it is germane to raise their awareness of how the roles, expectations and obligations of the two sexes determine the processes of migration. They also need to have a more nuanced understanding of the outcomes of migration, for example of how remittances are used and who makes decisions about them.

Akosua Darkwah: In Ghana, we will focus on the Brong Ahafo Region, which is well known for a long tradition of young male migration to Libya.  Given the current situation in Libya, migration to this country is precarious and yet the aspiration to go there persists. This project allows us to explore what migration in contemporary times means for communities in Brong Ahafo given the turmoil in their long-standing country of choice.

Development planning, social protection and programming

Akosua Darkwah: Actors working in the development industry can draw on the knowledge about migration and household dynamics in a number of ways.  First and foremost, it can inform their programming in terms of social protection for household members who may not necessarily be benefitting from the migration of family members.  Secondly, for those who are benefitting from migration, development workers can work in collaboration with both the stayers benefitting from migration and the migrants providing the benefits to offer development projects in the communities of origin.  Increasingly, scholars are looking at the ways in which the diaspora plays a role in development projects.  Our comparative project can add to that knowledge by documenting the links between members of the diaspora and specific family members in the communities of origin. Such knowledge can be useful for development workers as they seek sources of development funds.  This is particularly true in the context of Ghana which has been declared lower middle income and thus lost some external funding sources.

Vupenyu Dzingirai: On the issue of social protection current thinking is that people, and particularly the older generation, remaining at home are left more exposed by migration. They remain without labour or people to look after them, resulting in poverty. This project jolts us into thinking about why such mobility emerges in the first place and how this is fundamentally linked to ensuring social protection across generations. I think that this project can help us appreciate, in Zimbabwe at least, that the migration we see across frontiers is in fact linked to social protection in an environment where the state has abdicated its welfare function.

Benoît Tine: Yes, this is a pertinent point. Ever since the Structural Adjustment Plans of the 1980s, people have increasingly been left to their own devices. This project will highlight the alternatives people have sought in the absence of the state and it will be a pretext to discuss migratory strategies on a local or even a national scale. It will provide the necessary data to discuss social protection, the needs of areas that are important hubs of migration and the impact of the temporality of migration and distance on the household.

Vupenyu Dzingirai: Exactly. Temporality matters. Migrants who stay connected to their communities know what current needs are and what is required to be done. Such migration provides a lens into what requires further care in contexts of state neglect.

Adamnesh Bogale: Social protection issues include child protection, improvement of livelihood, productive safety net, etc. Current social policies do not respond adequately to vulnerabilities of migrants. In Ethiopia, attention has mostly been paid to the situation of international migrants, especially in connection with smuggling, trafficking and the worst forms of abuse. This has been at the expense of providing social protection for internal migrants who also suffer marginalization and violence.

Akosua Darkwah: Yes, it brings up the point that on the surface communities with high rates of migration might seem to need more social protection. Not all stayers are burdened to the same level by migration. Migrants who end up in decent paying jobs are often more able to assist family members than those who do not. Similarly, return migrants who returned because of the inability to eke out a living in destination countries return to families who are accommodating of them.  These families may need more social protection than others. I think this project will provide a more nuanced understanding of the extent to which all types of migrant households should be treated in the same way and as having the same needs.

*A National Migration Policy was developed in the autumn 2017 and was launched in March 2018, however it is not readily available. Interventions in accordance with the policy have not yet been implemented. We hope to engage with policy-makers and programmers to share insights from this research.

The research project is coordinated by Dorte Thorsen, Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium, University of Sussex. 

The lead researchers are:
Adamnesh Bogale, School of Social Work/OSSREA, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Akosua Darkwah, Department of Sociology/CMS, University of Ghana
Benoît Tine, Département de Sociologie de l’Université Assane Seck de Ziguinchor, Senegal
Vupenyu Dzingirai, Centre for Applied Social Sciences / ACMS, University of Zimbabwe