Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Tracing what shapes decisions by drawing 'rivers of life'


By Emmanuel Quarshie

In Ghana we have been researching the interplay of gender, generation and migration using a participatory approach to data collection and analysis - the River of Life. This blog summarizes how the method is used to gather data and its relevance to the broader context of qualitative research. Also, it highlights the challenges faced in using the method and how they were resolved with recommendations for future studies.

The River of life is a qualitative data collection tool that allows participants to reflect on their personal experiences, highlighting the factors that have (de)motivated them in their personal and professional lives. Originally designed to serve as an ice breaker, it provides participants in workshops and seminars the opportunity to quickly introduce themselves to one another and start to build a rapport with the group. 

The River of Life method is also used by non-governmental organizations and other development agencies in their activities. It helps provide development workers with an insight into the lives of the various residents in the communities in which they work. For the purpose of the Gender and Generation study, both adults (male and female) and youth (male and female) participated in this method.

Relevance of the River of Life method in qualitative research

The method is a visualization of the life stories of the participants. By drawing the obstacles and opportunities that have influenced the flow of their lives, the method helps participants and researchers elaborate complex narratives with many twists and turns. The River of life thus creates a setting for discussing what shaped the choices and decisions the participants have contented with over the course of their life.

If the River of Life method is an activity to animate a focus group discussion, it is particularly useful at the scoping stage of the research, where the objective is to understand the general trends and experiences in relation to the subject being studied in a particular community. For this particular stage, accounts given are usually from a broad perspective and are very descriptive in nature. This helps the researchers to identify the themes that would be most interesting to explore in more depth using other qualitative research methods. The River of life method can also be used in individual interviews. Here, the story of the participant’s life is recounted with a focus on a particular theme of interest to help elaborating the complexities, interconnections and disruptions that have influenced the course of life.

With the participants’ consent, the visualizations of the obstructions, openings and prospects that influence the research population’s choices and strategies can also serve as valuable resources in the dissemination of the findings to different audiences.

Relevance of the method in the Gender and Generation study

Across many cultures, a river can be considered as a symbol for illustrating a personal journey or one’s history. With respect to the specific context of the Gender and Generation study, the aim was to allow participants to present their family’s history of migration and its effects on their past and present lives. We adopted this method to complement participant observation, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and the use of mock money to understand the allocation of remittances, which are all established qualitative research methods employed in this study. 

In-depth interviews and focus group discussion place a heavy burden on participants’ time. The river of life approach was convenient due to its ability to help researcher access relevant information for the gender and generations research. In addition, the method did not take as much time and more importantly, it provided a visual understanding/interpretation of the textual material gathered through the other methods we employed. 

The approach became even more relevant when the in-depth interviews and focus group discussions established that migration presents both positive and negative outcomes to household members. Given this theme, the river of life approach gave participants the opportunity to recount the story of their lives emphasizing how migration may have triggered any positive or negative life experiences.

Challenges and solutions

A number of participants were unsure about their ability to draw their life stories as required by the approach. Some exclaimed that they were illiterates and therefore they could not use the approach.  Those who were still not confident enough to draw their experiences after the method was explained were aided to do so by the researcher and the research assistants. In such cases, participants recounted their stories and the researcher drew their ‘life’s river’ in full view of the participants and with their approval.

Further, the participants had some difficulty depicting in a consistent form, the degree of the challenges or benefits they encountered due to migration. In order to elicit the full meanings of the symbols used in the drawings, the researchers added notes to the symbols, which will aid the analysis of the drawings.  

Way forward

The river of life approach is undoubtedly a very interesting and useful tool that enables researchers to delve into the lives of participants. Compared to other tools such as interviews and FGD’s, the approach is fast and concise.

However, the approach is relatively undeveloped and thus not widely known in the community of qualitative researchers. The Gender and Generation research hub could develop it further and popularise its usage by incorporating it into research methodology modules. 

References
The "River of Life": A useful methodology for storytelling

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Investment for inheritance among single mothers in Southern Africa

House built by a migrant daughter

By Vupenyu Dzingirai and Emelda Muchadzoka Tagutanazvo

‘It is hard being across the border. You perform things against your conscience’, remarks Tendai, a single mother who divides time between Zimbabwe’s Chivi district and South Africa.

These ‘hard’ performances include unlicensed trading and ‘kuzvitengesa’, the use of one’s body to mobilise money. Commercial sex, with both foreign and local men, is a key performance that single mothers do in the plastic shacks in South Africa’s informal settlements. The settlements are mostly found in Johannesburg and Pretoria, two big cities in South Africa attracting migrants from the region.  

Quite why these women do this is a matter that puzzled research teams under the Gender and Generation project. Whatever that caused women to risk discrimination and potential violence from their home community by choosing to earn money this way, was a very serious matter that required detailed and policy-oriented ethnography.

For single and divorced women, the desire to invest in their family of origin informs this process. Pointing to a big three bedroomed house she has built, Tendai says, as daughters they ‘want to build houses for parents’. Her friend has done the same for her parents who are neglected by the male children that customarily care for them. This reverse investment – where women target original rather than marital homes - is a widespread phenomenon in south western Zimbabwe.

This investment achieves two intended outcomes. On the one hand, it challenges the local myth of daughters as a waste of patrilineal resources. One daughter reported how her father now recognized her as more important than male siblings, ‘who neglected them and only invested in own homes’. Chiefly though, the investment convinces parents to adjust their patrimonial considerations, accommodating previously neglected daughters whose property they now enjoy. In Tendai’s case, parents situated her house on the centre of the stand, while her siblings were located in the periphery of the family home. These outcomes suggest that, unlike sons who have automatic claims to patrimony, daughters must earn theirs through investments at home of origin.

Neopatrilineal states, and organizations operating in them, will of course find women’s travelling to work and sex work immoral, distasteful and meriting criminalization. The raft of measures suggested and implemented by these old-fashioned states - border searches and deportation - addresses their patriarchal concern that women should not engage in sex work. But the measures have little to do and, in fact, frustrate, the concrete plans for southern Africa women to achieve recognition and membership in households and lineages that customarily deny them. Such practices, declares Tendai, will, ‘not end our mobility and our enemies must learn to live with this.’


Vupenyu Dzingirai and Emelda Muchadzoka Tagutanazvo are from the Centre For Applied Social Sciences, University of Zimbabwe. Email: vdzingi@gmail.com; temelder@gmail.com

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Shadowing researchers at work


By Miriam Bernhardt

Wishing to deepen my practical knowledge about qualitative research in preparation for my master thesis and, potentially, doctoral research, I embarked on an unconventional internship with the Migrating out of Poverty Research Consortium. I shadowed researchers on fieldwork. For two weeks in September 2018, I had hands-on experience of doing research in the Casamance region of Senegal. Retrospectively, I view the time as one that has had a lasting impact on me as a scholar and as a person.

Getting into the research
The idea of shadowing researchers at work came to fruition in conversation with Migrating out of Poverty researcher Dorte Thorsen, who taught some of the MA programme on Migration and Global Development at the University of Sussex. She and her colleague, Mélanie Jacquemin, from Aix Marseille University – Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, invited me to join them in the field. They were going to do a second round of qualitative research revolving around the trajectories, and living and working conditions, of adolescent migrants moving to Ziguinchor in Lower Casamance.

Already on our journey to the field by ferry from Dakar, I was introduced to important actors within the project and the outcomes of earlier field trips. Concurrently, I was invited and encouraged to join any upcoming discussion or activity and to add important remarks from my observational point of view. Such openness and valued collaboration enabled me to profoundly immerse myself in both the challenging and delightful dynamics of research.

Learning to work with local research assistants
At first, the initial planning meetings and several incidents during the inquiry showed me the importance of trusted cooperation with the local research assistants. It was significant that the local research assistants acted as knowledgeable informants, as they lived on site and were often more aware of the daily routines of working adolescents, employers and others playing a role in the adolescent migrants’ lives, as well as the best times to trace them. Furthermore, they could notice the presence or absence of former interviewees and if dynamics in the field had changed since the last field work. Similarly, it was necessary, that the research assistants were capable of speaking the various local languages, approaching potential interviewees sensitively and explain the research objectives in a simple and comprehensive manner to the adolescents. In this sense, I realized just how dependent short-term research was on successful collaboration with research assistants, and thus how important it was to choose carefully assistants and to develop their skills.

Ethical and practical considerations
During the course of the research, it also became evident how much flexibility along with effective planning and reflection is asked of a researcher, who often faces limited time to conduct research. We traced interviewees at unusual hours or often had to arrange interview locations spontaneously close by their work places and often in bustling and noisy places.  However, such spontaneous manoeuvres were accompanied by constant prioritization and reflection on the overall state of the research outcomes, eventually guiding decisions about further action steps to comprehensively answer the research question.

By being part of a substantial number of different interviews, I learned how important it was to comprehensibly explain your role and objectives as a researcher. Especially, as you will be repeatedly asked about your intentions. In those cases, where the adolescents had well understood the underlying motives, they were more trusting and appreciated the interest and concern shown in their situation. Moreover, I drew insights from how differently the interviews evolved. I saw adolescents who opened up to us and revealed very vulnerable stories or felt the need to show us the dire circumstances they worked in. In other cases, interviewees felt increasingly uncomfortable to speak and indicated their need to end the interview prematurely.  In each situation, I learned from the researcher’s reactions to respect the autonomy of the adolescents to terminate the interview at any time.

Thinking ethically about the research also involved a consideration of how taking part could affect the adolescents. On the one hand, sensitive and attentive interaction with the young migrants’ bosses or guardians proved significant. It was imperative to ask for their permission first before approaching the adolescents and to make sure they understood the scope in order to avoid subsequent irritation that could be directed at the adolescents. On the other hand, I understood the significance for researchers of being aware of and connected with local social services and initiatives, in order to bring a range of initiatives to the adolescent’s attention, if interviews revealed that their situation was particularly precarious.

Using participatory methodologies
The research project furthermore offered the opportunity to get to know different participatory methods. Within my studies, I have had little insights into such methods and even less into the practicalities of employing them. Thus, I was keen to explore one of the applied methods called “photovoice”. It invited the young participants to document their daily activities with pictures that served as a basis for an interview the following day. Although I initially had the impression that the interviews with the photos shifted the focus too much on the details of the pictures leaving less time to ask more elaborate questions, I increasingly started to appreciate the method. It opened the way for surprising insights, as the adolescents could steer the course and content of the interview with their photos and narratives, as much as the researchers with their questions. In the same vein, I consider the method as valuable to build up trust from the outset. The first step of entrusting the participants with a camera constitutes a leap of faith and together with the given time to decide what they would like to show, it lays the foundation for the participants to ease into the interview situation. At the same time, some photo prints handed over a few days after the interview helped to round off the encounter.

The observation of participatory group activities starting with a role play or mapping were equally instructive. I witnessed once more that having a thematic framework was important, however leaving sufficient space for the adolescents to express their concerns proved enriching for the following focus group discussions and could generate unexpected insights.

Shadow learning
In conclusion, the observation of the research paired with the possibility to launch methodical or conceptual questions at any time, created an unbelievable stimulating setting for me. I left the research field with an excitement to further follow up on research from a theoretical side complementing the practical experience I gained. Concurrently, the field visit triggered the deconstruction of former concepts of migration and child labour and provided me with valuable background knowledge for my work with adolescent migrants in Germany.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Les enfants migrant es ne sont pas toujours en rupture éducative

Dorte Thorsen et Mélanie Jacquemin

Les programmes de protection de l'enfance portent l'idée selon laquelle éducation et migration de travail sont incompatibles ; or les adolescentes migrantes ont des profils diversifiés, incluant de multiples formes d'éducation. Une recherche menée au Sénégal dans le cadre du programme "Terrains partagés" du LMI MOVIDA dépasse une conceptualisation étroite de l'éducation en tant que scolarisation formelle pour explorer comment les adolescentes perçoivent les liens entre migration et éducation, et comment la migration exacerbe les différences de genre et affecte en pratique leur éducation.

Migrer pour continuer son éducation
Les enfants abandonnent rarement l'école parce qu'eux-mêmes ou leurs parents ont décidé qu’il leur fallait migrer pour travailler. La plupart quittent l’école en raison des dysfonctionnements du système scolaire, de l'incapacité de leurs parents à payer les dépenses liées à l’école, ou d'une désillusion envers la « rentabilité » des diplômes. C'est particulièrement évident au niveau du second cycle de l'enseignement secondaire, où l'enseignement devient nettement plus onéreux. Néanmoins, les adolescentes aiment apprendre, elles/ils connaissent l’importance de la scolarisation et de l'éducation au sens large, et cherchent à compenser le manque d'opportunités dans les zones rurales en partant pour la ville.

Nombre d'entre eux migrent vers les villes avec l’objectif de continuer leurs études ; certains cherchent du travail pour gagner de quoi retourner poursuivre leur scolarité, d'autres cherchent de quoi financer une formation professionnelle. Les membres de la parenté urbaine invitent fréquemment les adolescentes à venir travailler pour eux avec la promesse de leur payer les frais de formation professionnelle à titre de salaire. Même pour celles et ceux qui ne poursuivent pas leurs études au sens formel de scolarisation, leur trajectoire migratoire et professionnelle est souvent structurée par une forme d'apprentissage leur permettant de prétendre à des emplois urbains mieux rémunérés et de passer d'un travail non qualifié à un travail peu qualifié.

Les élèves migrants : “partir en vacances travailler”
Les migrations de travail pendant les grandes vacances scolaires sont de plus en plus fréquentes en Afrique de l'Ouest à mesure que la scolarisation et le maintien à l’école s'étendent aux zones rurales et incluent les enfants des familles les plus pauvres, filles et garçons. Cette pratique est également répandue en Côte d'Ivoire, au Ghana et au Togo. Les données de suivi démographique en pays sereer au Sénégal montrent aussi un changement temporel dans les migrations saisonnières de travail des adolescentes au cours des vingt dernières années : la majorité des filles qui migrent pour travailler comme domestiques à Dakar ne le font plus pendant la saison sèche, mais plutôt pendant les vacances scolaires en période d’hivernage, afin de gagner de quoi financer la poursuite de leur scolarité.

Un focus group mené à Ziguinchor à partir d’une cartographie participative des trajectoires migratoires des élèves migrants, a révélé que les enfants des régions rurales de Casamance commencent à migrer pour travailler pendant leurs vacances à partir de l'âge de 10-13 ans. Les garçons partent tout d’abord dans les régions du Nord (Sénégal central, Vallée du Fleuve) pour s’engager dans des travaux agricoles ou horticoles, puis se rendent dans les grandes centres urbains (Dakar, Thiès) pour travailler comme vendeurs ambulants et porteurs sur les marchés. Ceux qui sont venus à Ziguinchor ont été attirés par des informations circulant sur la facilité d’y trouver du travail comparativement à Dakar où la concurrence dans l’économie informelle est beaucoup plus forte. Le prix du voyage, les frais de nourriture et d’hébergement sont également moins chers hors de Dakar. Pour les filles élèves migrantes cependant, le choix n'est pas aussi libre. Les filles rurales émigrent presque exclusivement vers Dakar pour travailler comme domestiques, celles qui viennent de Basse Casamance ou de Kolda peuvent aussi venir à Ziguinchor. Outre les services domestiques, les élèves migrantes travaillent comme petites vendeuses ou dans les petits restaurants de la gare routière.

Dans l'esprit de ces jeunes migrantes, « partir en vacances pour travailler » traduit leur situation socio-économique subalterne, étant donné qu'ils ne peuvent pas, à la différence des enfants de familles plus aisées, suivre les cours de vacances qui pourraient soutenir leur réussite scolaire. Les revenus dérisoires que les élèves migrants des deux sexes parviennent à gagner pendant les vacances, les conditions de travail difficiles et les mauvais traitements infligés par certains employeurs ajoutent à leur frustration, mais elles/ils s'accrochent néanmoins à l'idée que ces efforts les portent progressivement vers leurs projets futurs d’achever leur scolarité, de soutenir leurs parents et d’atteindre un meilleur statut social et professionnel.

Adolescentes migrants hors-de-l’école : vers d’autres formes d’éducation
À Ziguinchor, parmi les adolescentes migrants non ou dé-scolarisés, nombreux suivent une formation professionnelle en tant qu'apprentis tailleurs/couturières ou chauffeurs. Les garçons mentionnent également l’apprentissage dans des métiers typiquement masculins tels que maçon, mécanicien et soudeurs. Très souvent, les conditions d’apprentissage sont négociées par de proches parents, mais tous les apprentis ne sont pas certains du contenu de l’accord. Les trajectoires des adolescents, garçons et filles, mettent en évidence des différences de genre et de classe quant aux possibilités et à la capacité de se concentrer sur l'acquisition d'un métier spécialisé. De nombreuses filles ne travaillent comme apprenties qu’à temps partiel (quelques heures quotidiennes en après-midi), parce qu'elles travaillent aussi à temps partiel comme petites domestiques, soit contre salaire chez une patronne, soit sans rétribution monétaire au service de la parente-tutrice qui les héberge.
Bien que les normes sociales relatives au genre, au travail, à la reproduction et au statut des enfants évoluent, et que les filles accèdent à différentes formes d'éducation, les normes concernant le travail adapté au sexe et à l'âge déterminent fortement leur trajectoire. Le travail domestique reste un domaine féminin. La mise au travail domestique de filles migrantes issues des familles les plus pauvres peut émanciper les filles (et parfois aussi les fils) des familles qui les emploient ou les hébergent. Ainsi, alors que la migration peut ouvrir la possibilité d'apprendre un métier, la distance géographique et sociale avec leur famille d'origine que produit la migration, ne garantit pas aux filles la possibilité de dépenser la majeure partie de leur temps et de leur énergie à une activité de formation.

On observe pour les garçons, une acceptation sociale plus grande concernant le temps nécessaire à une formation pendant leur expérience migratoire ; ils rapportent volontiers tous les conseils reçus avant leur départ : se concentrer sur une activité, ne pas se disperser à travers des fréquentations non connectées à ce travail ou apprentissage, etc. Parce qu’elle les éloigne des sollicitations parentales directement portées sur leur force de travail (notamment pour les travaux champêtres), la migration peut leur offrir cet espace-temps ouvert à l’acquisition de nouveaux savoirs.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Does anti-trafficking policy protect against forced labour and exploitation or harm? The ban on migration for domestic work in Ethiopia and Ghana


By Priya Deshingkar

Domestic workers who number at least 67 million adults worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization, have been in focus recently as a particularly vulnerable group of workers. These workers are often hidden from the public gaze and not covered adequately by labour laws leaving them vulnerable to abuse. Indeed a number of rights organisations and prominent photographers including Steve McCurry have highlighted the horrendous abuse that they can suffer. The occupation is highly gendered – most migrant domestic workers are female due to stereotypes and cultural norms related to men’s and women’s work and their capabilities in both source and destination societies.

There are now high-level efforts to protect domestic workers against exploitation but our research shows that the outcomes of this protective legislation may not be what was intended. Two of these processes are worth mentioning. First, the focus on domestic work by the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Urmila Bhoola, in her report to the Human Rights Council highlights the plight of “marginalized women workers in the global domestic economy” (para 11). The same report notes that 11.5 million domestic workers are international migrants, or 17.2% of all domestic workers and 7.7% of all migrant workers worldwide (para. 31). Bhoola notes that the domestic work sector accounted for 24% of all forced labour in 2017 (para 43). Labour market intermediaries or brokers and private employment agencies as well as other parts of the migration industry such as pre-departure training centres, transport companies, travel agencies, medical testing centres and visa offices have also been implicated in creating an “enabling environment for abuse and human rights violations” (para. 58 and 60).

Second, the Trafficking in Persons report of the US Department of State which ranks countries based on their performance in combating trafficking lists domestic work as an occupation to watch. It ranks both Ghana and Ethiopia as tier 2 countries and has pressured them to criminalise migration for domestic work as well as the people who facilitate such migration. Non-compliance carries the threat of withdrawing millions of dollars of aid. Domestic work is mentioned as an occupation requiring action to curb trafficking and forced labour. Both countries had introduced bans on migration for domestic work to the Middle East. While Ethiopia lifted the ban this year, it has replaced that with heavy regulation of employment agencies which still illegalises informal agencies. Both have introduced a number of measures to control trafficking and smuggling: Ethiopia has Anti-Trafficking Task Forces across the country. A number of checkpoints have been set up along the Wollo to Galafi route on the Ethiopia-Djibouti border. Additionally local leaders have been co-opted into forming anti-human trafficking committees to police migrants. Similarly Ghana passed The 2005 Human Trafficking Act, amended in 2009, which criminalizes sex and labour trafficking. Here too a number of well-known brokers have been arrested and imprisoned and the business has been driven out of view.

In 2009 the Ethiopian government arranged for the evacuation of 160,000 migrants from Saudi Arabia. Rather than alleviating the hardship and reducing the vulnerabilities of these women, the step appears to have precipitated remigration to the Middle East. As one evacuated migrant observed “Our government, through its embassy in Saudi, was promising to facilitate different things for us. But the promise was not on the ground when we came here. I do not have a job right now; I am using the money I brought from Saudi. If the condition continues like this, and if I do not get any other alternative here, I will migrate again. The government has not given us the working area; the rent for a small shop is very high. I am paying 2,000 birr for a single room to live in.”

Perhaps this is why despite the criminalisation of both the migrants and the people they rely on to make migration possible, it continues unabated. If anything, it has grown and the country that has been named most often for the worst cases of abuse, Saudi Arabia, seems to be the destination of choice. What has changed is that the process has become far more risky.

Agencies and brokers that once traded openly have now become clandestine actors. Routes and travel methods have changed to avoid detection. In Ghana those wishing to travel to the Gulf counties must now travel overland to other West African countries before they fly to their destination. This increases the journey time and costs and can bring new risks if the overland journey is in cramped vehicles through hazardous territory. In Ethiopia large groups do not cross the desert with a broker (a “trafficker” in the popular discourse) as visualised in the popular imagination and instead split up and this can increase risks for women travelling on their own.

Furthermore, the delegitimisation of brokers appears to have spawned smuggling networks with more nefarious practices such as deception related to the terms of employment and placement without ensuring adequate protection; long journeys through virgin territory with few facilities and “safe houses” across the border (or detention centres as they are called in the press) where migrants are kept while they wait for their relatives to transfer money to brokers. Travelling without work permits and papers creates another set of vulnerabilities for migrants as they are often employed informally, without legally recognised contracts. This places them in a situation of hyper-precarity where threats of deportation and imprisonment can be used by employers to extract forced labour.
What is needed is a system of educating aspiring migrants about the possible risks of working without a proper contract, the provision of support services along the way and at destination. Blanket bans and criminalisation will not protect people against forced labour and exploitation. A serious rethink based on research-based evidence is needed.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Child migrants are not always out of education


Dorte Thorsen and Mélanie Jacquemin

Child protection programmes evolve around the idea that education and migration for work are incompatible but the profiles of adolescent migrants are diverse and include multiple forms of education. Research in Senegal under the auspice of MOVIDA’s “terrain partagé” programme moves outside the narrow conceptualisation of education as formal schooling to explore how adolescents see the linkages between migration and education, and how migration exacerbates gender differences and affects their education in practice.

1. Migration to continue education
Children rarely drop out of school because they or their parents have decided they should migrate for work. Common reasons to drop out are school malfunctioning, parents' inability to pay school-related expenses or disillusionment with the effect of school certificates in the labour market. This is increasingly evident at senior secondary level when schooling becomes notably more expensive. Nonetheless, adolescents cherish schooling, and education in a broader sense, and they counter the lack of opportunity in rural areas by leaving for the city.

Many migrate to towns and cities with the objective of continuing education; some aim to save up to return to their previous school once they have the resources, others seek to raise resources to enroll in vocational training. Urban relatives frequently invite adolescents to work for them by promising to pay fees for vocational training instead of a wage. Even when adolescent migrants do not pursue education in the formal sense, their occupational trajectory is often structured by an element of learning that allows them to move from unskilled work to lowly skilled, urban work.

2. Secondary school students’ holiday migration to work
Migration to work during the long school holidays is becoming gradually more common across West Africa, as school enrollment and retention expands into rural areas and includes boys and girls of poorer families. The practice is also common in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo. Demographic monitoring data in the Sereer region of Senegal suggests that seasonal labour migration among adolescent girls has declined over the past twenty years and that there has also been a temporal shift. Nowadays the majority of girls who migrate from the region to work as domestic workers in Dakar no longer do so during the dry season but during the school holidays in the wet season to save up to finance their schooling.

A focus group discussion in Ziguinchor, stimulated by mapping student migrants’ migration trajectories, revealed that rural children from the Casamance regions begin to migrate to work during their holidays from the age of 10-13 years. Boys start by doing agricultural or horticultural work in central Senegal and the Senegal River Valley, and then move on to the main cities (Dakar, Thies) to work as street vendors and porters around markets. Those who come to Ziguinchor are attracted by information about the ease with which they can find work compared to in Dakar where the competition for income is much higher. The costs of transportation, food and accommodation are also cheaper outside Dakar. For female student migrants however, the choice is not as free. Rural girls are almost uniquely migrating towards Dakar to engage in domestic work, unless they come from the lower Casamance region or Kolda, in which case they may come to Ziguinchor. In addition to domestic work, female student migrants work in small restaurants or as petty traders in the bus station.

In the minds of these young migrants, holiday migration to work recaps their inferior socio-economic position in that they cannot attend Summer programmes to support their academic achievement, like children of better-off families. The paltry wages that student migrants of both genders can make from the work they can find during the holidays, and the harsh working conditions and the abuse metered out by some employers, add to their frustration but they nevertheless cling to the idea that these efforts gradually lead them towards their future plans to complete schooling, support their parents and achieve a better social and professional status.

3. Adolescent out-of-school migrants: towards other forms of education
Among the adolescent migrants in Ziguinchor, who are out of formal schooling or never were enrolled, quite a few engage in vocational training as tailor apprentices and drivers. The boys also mention typical male occupations such as bricklayer, mechanic and metal welding. Very often apprenticeships are negotiated by close relatives but not all apprentices know what to expect or are sure about the trade. The trajectories of adolescent boys and girls highlight gender and class differences in opportunity and ability to concentrate on their acquisition of a skilled trade. Many of the girls work only part-time in their apprenticeship (a few hours per day in the afternoon), because they are also working part-time as domestic workers, either in paid employment or unpaid for the relative or guardian with whom they live.

Although social norms about gender, work, reproduction and status are changing, and girls are now pursuing different forms of education, the norms about gender and age appropriate work determine their trajectories. Domestic work remains a female domain. The work shouldered by girls of poorer families may emancipate the daughters (and sometimes also the sons) of the families who employ or accommodate migrant domestic workers. Thus, while migration may open the opportunity for learning a trade, the geographical and social distance from their family of origin produced by migration does not guarantee girls the possibility of spending most of their time and energy in a training activity.

The accounts offered by migrant boys of the advice they received before their departure reveal that they were told to focus on an activity and not get diverted by friendships not connected to this work or learning, etc. This guidance highlights the greater social acceptance of migrant boys needing time for training during their migration experience. As this allows them to move away from direct parental demands on their labour (especially for work in the countryside), migration often affords boys space and time to acquire new, specialised skills.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The human face of irregular border crossings

By Dorte Thorsen

“I’m tired of the combat at Tanger” exclaimed a Senegalese friend over the phone from Morocco in July, “I’ve tried to cross four times in these past days but I haven’t had luck! Today 231 migrants were imprisoned. I’m going home!”

In a research project examining the social effects of European migration management, Migrating out of Poverty researcher, Dorte Thorsen, has followed the lives of migrants, refugees, and international students from West and Central Africa who lived in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, in 2012. Ethnographic research then, a follow-up field visit in 2014, and regular contact via phone and social media offers insights into how ideas about opportunity, risk, social standing, and settlement shape the lives of migrants.

What migration statistics tell

The number of irregular sea crossings via the Western route in the Mediterranean Sea has almost tripled since 2017 and, according to Relief Web and IOM, 35 per cent of the migrants and refugees entering Europe by sea are currently travelling via this route. These numbers do not denote a new wave of migration via North Africa. The total number of people entering Europe undocumented by sea is less than half of the numbers recorded in 2017 and a fifth of those recorded in 2016.

Although, the bleak reports of detention, extortion and slavery-like conditions in Libya have triggered a shift in route preference, not all of the migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean are recent arrivals in North Africa. Some are in fact of North African origin, others, like my friend, have lived in North Africa for five-six years or more. This blog examines their experiences to shed light on what makes them decide to invest time and money in the journey to Europe, and how this is linked with the broader effects of migration management and border control.

Politics of transit and settlement

Often Morocco is thought of as a transit country for migrants originating in sub-Saharan Africa, but it is increasingly recognised as a country of settlement and refuge. Some migrants and refugees settle reluctantly because they do not manage to move to the location they had hoped for due to the hardened border control in Europe, others settle to study, work or engage in trade. A study published in 2016 by Mourji,Ferrié, Radi and Alioua reveals that 65 per cent of the migrants from sub-Saharan Africa came to Morocco with the idea of settling there.

The management of Moroccan borders has fluctuated considerably over time with profound bearings on migrants and refugees; from border patrol far away from the physical borders, to exclusion from the labour market, to regularisation of some of the many migrants who were living undocumented in the country. The UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is in charge of registering and processing asylum claims, awaiting a pending Moroccan asylum law. Until the regularisation process, recognised refugees were barred from the labour market and the UNHCR only had funding for allowances to the most vulnerable refugees, pushing the rest into petty-business and illegal work.

In 2012-13 migrants originating in sub-Saharan Africa experienced waves of systematic harassment and deportation to no man’s land between Morocco and Algeria at Oujda or desert regions further to the south. Only after the UNHCR raised concern that asylum-seekers and refugees were among the deported were these categories of migrants spared deportation. Such campaigns have happened sporadically since the mid-2000s, often prompted by negotiations of migration management with the EU and individual European countries (see Migrating out of Poverty Working Paper 54 for a critical account of Afro-European negotiations). While European migration politics play a central role, the indiscriminate targeting of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa also demonstrates deep-seated racism in Morocco.

In 2013, Morocco reacted to pressure from the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and the National Council for Human Rights. A Royal Decree prompted a regularisation process in which around 25,000 irregular migrants, who had lived in the country for years, were given temporary residency in 2014. Another 24,000 migrants are expected to benefit from a second and on-going regularisation process. Furthermore, after the first regularisation process, recognised refugees were also regularised. However, the regularisation of refugees was on hold most of 2017, thereby preventing refugees the necessary documentation for accessing the formal labour market.

With the recent rise of sea crossings over the summer 2018, Morocco has again come under pressure from Europe to patrol its borders better. We are currently seeing an extreme hardening of how migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are treated by the Moroccan state that cannot be attributed to European migration politics alone. The newest wave of systematic and forced movement of migrants - regardless of their legal status - away from the northern cities to small towns and desert areas in the south of the country is the outcome of migration politics and both popular and political resistance to the new forms of heterogeneity that follow immigration. Harassment is not restricted to border regions but spill into big cities across Morocco, destabilising the lives of settled migrants and refugees.

Living in Morocco as a migrant from sub-Saharan Africa

Regardless of their legal status, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa frequently find themselves in a situation circumscribed by structural racism. Each time systematic harassment is welling up, many migrants lie low. Migrants who lived in Rabat in 2005 recounted how they had left their houses to sleep in the open on the outskirts of the neighbourhoods to avoid raids at night. In 2012, they recounted fleeing the police after being rounded up, and a few recounted their journeys back to Rabat after deportation.


“It is strictly prohibited to let apartments to Africans.” Notice stuck on a wall in Morocco (Source: Facebook). Here the allusion to ‘Africans’ signifies the deeply racist distinction made between migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and Moroccans in everyday language use.


When campaigns waned, migrants were still circumscribed by structural racism. Employers got, and still get, away with paying lower wages to migrants than to Moroccan workers without penalties. Landlords can refuse to let to black migrants and they get away with asking rents that are two-three times higher than what Moroccan tenants pay. Many migrants have experienced eviction or the threat of eviction, sometimes for fickle reasons, other times because they are in breach with their tenancy agreement because they are in arrears with the rent due to lack of income, share accommodation or operate home-based businesses. Others are affected by conflicts of ownership and use within landlord families, resulting in eviction and even of having all their belongings destroyed with no recourse to justice or compensation, as happened to another Senegalese friend and his housemates in 2016.

Regardless of their legal status, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are subject to high levels of street violence, especially in the poorer neighbourhoods of large cities where they are seen as competitors for meagre resources and easy targets. A substantial number of migrants described being attacked by groups of Moroccan youths. Asylum seekers and refugees noted that their complaints to the police were shelved immediately and irregular migrants stayed clear of the authorities not to risk detention and deportation, thus they never made complaints.

Effects of the regularisation processes

Small changes are noticed after the first regularisation process. In Rabat, migrants with residency or refugee status are increasingly moving from the poorest neighbourhoods in the cities to newly built satellite towns on the outskirts, where they rent apartments rather than rooms in traditional residential riads. The better quality of housing is off-set by the time and costs of traveling to city-centres where work can be found more easily and, especially among the petty-traders, not all wish to live far from work and trading places.

The residency permit also enables migrants to take formal employment and thus to enjoy protection of their rights as workers. However, apart from a few niches such as call-centres where Francophone migrants have an advantage, specific factories and the hospitality and care industry, it is still very difficult for migrants to penetrate the Moroccan labour market and earn a regular and fixed income. Female migrants working in domestic service are among the workers who have benefitted most from the regularisation. They appear to increasingly choose a combination of several part-time jobs to reduce the risk of exploitation rather than working full-time as live-in domestics workers at the beg and call of their employer.

The majority of migrants get by doing informal, casual work, petty-trade and a small number of them operate informal restaurants, bars and guesthouses from their homes. People in these trades suffer a diverse range of interventions, which are not uniquely driven by migration politics but also by urban planning. Several of the women, who ran successful restaurants in the past, have closed business due to pressure from their landlords. My Senegalese friend, whose account opened the blog, experienced a series of fluctuations in his street trade linked with campaigns to clear the streets of petty traders, including Moroccan street traders, to campaigns harassing migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and probably also to competition among the petty-traders as their numbers waxed and waned.

Fluctuation in sea crossings

Several interlinked fluctuations are at play when numbers of detected sea crossings change. For the many migrants who have been in Morocco for a while, the experience of everyday racism among the population in the neighbourhoods where they live is exacerbated by structural racism that allows abuse, exploitation and marginalisation to continue. Lack of integration and economic conditions that allow migrants and refugees to establish themselves and maintain their socio-economic aspirations of social standing, welfare and education of their children, push them to look for other options. Among these options, crossing into Europe figures as one with future potential, as long as it is not safe or economically viable in the long term to return their country of abode prior to journeying to Morocco.

Fluctuations in sea crossings are also related to seasonality and the likelihood of detection before leaving Moroccan waters. It is not only this year but every summer that the number of sea crossings rise as the sea is calmer and warmer. My friend has tried to cross over to Spain almost every summer since 2012, as well as a couple of times during seasonal festivities when the border patrol is perceived to be less vigilant. Over the years he has spent more than £2,000 trying to access the European labour market, and he is certainly not alone in making this sacrifice to reach Europe.

The amount of money spent in aborted attempts to enter Europe, not to speak of the lives lost, would be better spent elsewhere. It is easy to assume that the money could set up business in their countries of origin or even in Morocco. However, it should be clear that currently the political mood in Morocco is not very different to anti-immigration movements in Europe. The conditions are not presently allowing more than a few migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to consolidate themselves in Morocco. Some migrants return to their country of origin. If those who continue trying their luck crossing the Mediterranean Sea thought they could set up viable business or gain durable employment with the resources they pay to the people helping them cross, they have enough economic acumen to do so. As they do not hold this belief, it would perhaps be better if loss of money and lives were prevented by giving temporary access to European labour markets, allowing migrants and refugees to spend the money on their visa and upkeep at the beginning of their stay in Europe.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Exploring the migration industry in Ethiopia


By Alemu Tesfaye

The migration of an individual usually involves a range of actors including their social networks, brokers, border control agencies, training and certification institutions and even NGOs and religious organisations. These entities, collectively are known as the “Migration Industry”. We have been exploring this topic in Ethiopia since September 2017.

The research is being conducted in two regional states – Southern Nations and Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) and Amhara Region – and one city state – Addis Ababa – in Ethiopia. It covers three migration origin sites Addis Ababa, Hadiya and Wollo and three major migration transit sites – border towns of Moyale, Metema and Semera.

Legal and policy frameworks and their effect

The 1998 Overseas Employment Proclamation, issued by the Ethiopian government, led into the establishment of more than 400 Private Employment Agencies (PEAs). This Proclamation enabled the PEAs to send thousands of labour migrants, mainly female domestic workers, to the Middle East (de Regt & Tafesse, 2015; Kubai, 2016). Despite the establishment of these agencies, 60-70% of migrants from Ethiopia are irregular and use different land and sea routes with the facilitation of informal brokers (delaloch) (RMMS, 2014, 2015; Belloni, 2015; Ayalew 2017). The importance of irregular migration and the role of informal brokers, regardless of the presence of the legal agencies, is explained by:

  1. The services of the PEAs put the migrants in the Kafala sponsorship system that confines migrants to specific employers with a fixed salary and contract time duration. This limits their freedom to change jobs. 
  2. Gender selectivity of domestic workers: the agencies had mainly specialized in female domestic workers, which means irregular migration remains a major option for men.  
  3. The official labour deployment by the government was only to the Middle Eastern countries. This again makes irregular migration the major alternative for migrants to South Africa, the Sudan and many other countries. 

In 2013, the Ethiopian government passed comprehensive legislation to Prevent and Suppress Trafficking in Person and Smuggling of Migrants. At the same time, the government also banned the deployment of domestic workers oversees. This move was basically triggered by two incidents. The first incident was in June 2012 where forty migrants from Ethiopia were found dead after they were suffocated inside a truck transporting them in central Tanzania, and the second was the deportation of more than 160,000 undocumented Ethiopians by the Saudi government in 2013. These incidents were followed by an organized campaign against brokers. For example, in two districts we visited: one in Wollo and the other in Hadiya zones fifty and sixty-two brokers respectively were convicted and ended up serving long term prison sentences. This in turn led to a number of changes in the business of brokerage such as in migration facilitation at borders, mechanisms of payment, systems of transportation, communication methods, harboring, etc.

Until 2013, brokers used to openly recruit migrants, collect money, transport and host migrants in their own safe houses. They were also treated as “creators of opportunities” by aspiring migrants and the communities that they come from. In most cases, they were respected both by the communities and officials. They used to operate both at origin and transit places publicly but illegally. After the changes, brokers were forced to go underground and are now operating invisibly. Brokering is done now through telephone and local representatives. Most of the negotiations between a potential migrant and a broker are made by phone. Mechanisms of payment have also changed from making payment in cash or payments at bank to making payments at transit locations or from destinations.

Brokerage has an informal structure comprising of wana dalala (a lead broker), a leqami (recruiters, suppliers), who is under the lead broker, in-country transporters, and ashagari (smugglers who are in charge of border crossings). At the borders there is another structure. Most of the lead brokers used to be merchants before they converted themselves to brokers. Some of them used to operate in the transnational contraband business. They reproduce each other, and graduate from assistantship (recruiting, supplying, transporting) to lead broker. Some of the brokers were themselves former migrants, some were former law enforcement officials who knew the “brokerage business” when they were part of the law enforcement.

Systems of transportation and sheltering 

Following the organized campaign against the brokers, systems of transportation have also changed. Except the route from Wollo to Djibouti border where there is no public transport, transporting migrants en masse using a rented car up to the border has been abandoned. In the Wollo-Afar route, where there are multiple check-points, brokers have established networks with the Afar clan leaders. Ethiopian Afar pastoralists and Djibouti Afar pastoralists, who have the tradition of crossing international borders of Ethiopia and Djibouti for social and economic reasons, are key partners of smuggling networks. In the Ethiopia Djibouti border smuggling migrants follow the practices of the informal cross-border trade. In the remaining two routes, brokers usually advise their clients to arrive at the border towns taking public transports by avoiding going in groups.

Systems of sheltering migrants have also changed. Instead of keeping migrants together as it used to be done in the past, brokers now allow migrants to get accommodation/shelter in hotels or other places during their journeys and also at border towns.

Socio-cultural attachments

Brokers are major players in the migration industry in Ethiopia. Brokers have a strong socio-cultural attachment to the community. Most of the brokers at migration source/origin have multiple relations with potential migrants. These relations relate to ethnicity, clan, religion, geography etc.

The brokers are very much aware that they live and operate among the community that entrusts them with their young ones but also the brokers know that their children study with the children of the surrounding community. Hence, they abide by the local rules and norms. For instance, when migrants are deported, they negotiate with the help of elders, religious leaders or traditional authorities on the return of part of the money paid for facilitation. When their clients pass away en route, the brokers visit the family of the deceased and provide financial assistance or some form of support, and usually return the money the deceased migrant paid – that is the quality of good broker.

The success of the brokerage business does not only depend on socio-cultural relations though. Brokerage is a very competitive business. Most brokers believe that if they fail to do their job properly, for instance, if they abuse their clients or even their clients are abused by a third party working for the broker “the source will dry up”. They believe that their success depends on their reputation that has been established as a result of their effectiveness in making sure that the migrant has reached his/her destination. Usually, these success stories are narrated by the community thereby marketing the brokers.

Brokers sometimes do business among themselves. For instance, if a broker has a client but have little knowledge about the routes, borderlands, transportations, payment methods etc. he/she negotiates with another broker. Brokers usually use language of commodity in their daily business. For example, while waiting for an ideal number of migrants, they use phrases like “I have ten sacks of sugar”; “the bag is not full” etc.

Brokers also establish vertical relationships among brokers. This relationship is a loose business relationship. Their networks exist at different places en route all the way sometimes to the destination country. For example, a lead broker in Hadya has a business network with one or several brokers in Moyale, in Nairobi, in Dar es Salaam and in Lilongwe (Malawi) and even in South Africa. The power relations in the network are trust based with no formal responsibility and accountability mechanisms attached to them.

What do the community think?

The brokerage business has a strong backing by the community. We have noticed that there is local support for brokering practices in all the sites of this research. Most of the community does not see brokering and smuggling activities as criminal. Thus, brokering is a socially embedded practice and has become a community economy. Almost all our informants claim that migration has contributed a lot to the boom in the economy of the community in Hadya zone. In small towns in Kombolcha district of Wollo, residents claim that brokers are the economic backbones of the towns. In Metema, it is considered a means of survival for the population of the town, besides contraband. Therefore, it seems that the law enforcement officers, the local administration, the committee making up the taskforce for the prevention of human trafficking and smuggling are all less effective about controlling irregular migration.

Financing systems

Money transfer systems are crucial in the operation of migration industry in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a tight financial system where sending money oversees is very difficult. It is also difficult to access foreign currencies from within the country. Migration facilitators have established dynamic and flexible and adaptable hawala/money transfer systems in all the routes and major places of origin of migration. The differences between the routes depend on the geographical distance and business relations between the source/Ethiopia and the destination countries. For example, money transfer in Wollo is closely integrated into imports from Saudi Arabia and UAE. In the Metema route to Sudan a different migration economy prevails. Several shops engaged in hawala and ‘informal’ money exchange have been established facilitating financial transactions. In Hadya, a complex money transfer system prevails. It involves banks, hawala agents, mobile banking services and the aviation industry. Brokers play a very essential role for money transfer at the border towns and in the sites outside Ethiopia.

The role of information and communication technologies

Migrants, and those who facilitate migration, use various types of technology for communication and other purposes. Mobile phones are the most crucial communication technology in migration. Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber are also are utilized heavily to different degrees. In most cases these technologies are not used while in journey but are extensively used before departure and at transit towns where there is connectivity.

The workings of the migration industry in Ethiopia are very dynamic, complex and interesting. It engages many actors with several enabling and constraining structures. The research is a work in progress.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

‘Stealth’ and re-politicisation: The limits of ‘knowledge-brokering’ as a model to influence migration policy making in South Africa



By Kudakwashe P Vanyoro

South Africa is currently experiencing mixed migration flows from different parts of the Southern African region. For example, Zimbabweans moving into South Africa encounter a double whammy of political displacement and labour migration (economically induced displacement). For this group of people, protections are far and few between. They are forced to choose between the asylum system, which, by design, is bureaucratically inefficient, and the labour migration system, which, among other things is driven by all sorts of xenophobic discourses.

They are met with an immigration and refugee regime that casts a huge net to undermine all sorts of their potential socio-economic and political agency. Just as it is hard to neatly reduce their mobility to any singular policy protection (labour migration or refugee regime), since they are not legally seen by the state as genuine asylum seekers but economic refugees, the policies themselves are juggled to conflate their concerns and needs and undermine their protection. One needs to only look at the Trafficking in Persons Act, Amendment to the Refugees Act and White Paper on International Migration. The three dance together as it were; which even makes it more practically sensible for us to speak of a kind of mobility policy/governance regime.

In other words, their precarity is not experienced within fixed ontological categories; but within multiple, intersecting policy sytems. Indeed, there is a concerted political will by the state to see anti-immigration policies pass, regardless of which policy/governance regime one would like to neatly fit these migrants into.

What does this all mean for doing research uptake and pursuing evidence-based policies through activism and advocacy? Here I will highlight my suggestions that explicitly draw on the work I have published on the issues of ‘unpopular causes’ in South Africa with the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium; and the notion of repoliticising migration narratives I published with colleagues in a Globalisations Special Issue.

Some have insisted on the perrenial need to improve the capacity of policymakers to use evidence and bridge the science-policy interface gap to improve relations between researchers and policymakers, knowledge brokering and capacity building. Yet we know that the reason for the marginalisation of evidence in South Africa is purely philosophical; policymakers expediently choose what version of reality/truth they are willing to accept. Consistent with the knowledge brokering model, albeit in a counterintutitive manner, they form alliances and relationships with their own tribe of researchers pursuing similar interests – a different kind of rationality and political will - which is expedient for them in dealing with ‘unpopular causes’ en masse.

For those of us concerned with influencing policy through the right kinds of evidence, acknowledging this political reality animates space to critically debate what approaches are best and pragmatically suited to improve and sustain activism and research uptake on these kinds of issues.

I would argue that, evidence-based activism for migrants’ right in South Africa is hamstrung by the pathologisation of migration as a whole in policymaking, which has lead to the dominance of ‘alternative facts’ proliferated by actors who are tied together through ‘communities of faith’ that hold steadfast to claims that despite a lack of evidence migration is an extensive problem in South Africa. Therefore, there are limits to the notion of bridging the science-policy gap through knowledge-brokering, at least in the way it has been propounded this far. First, by insisting on notions of capacity building, it works from an inherent assumption that (South) African policymakers lack the capacity to make decisions that are ostensibly rational; since, after all, ‘that is Africa’s perrenial problem’. Second, if anything, the very existence of shoddy relations between science and policy is the reason we find ourselves in this place, that is fraught with the use of problematic bad data in policymaking. There is a sect of science and civil society that has been coopted or ‘gone to bed’ with policymaking as it were.

So why should we still insist on bringing these two worlds together, and in what ways?

With scarce, limited resources, I am less concerned with bringing the worlds of policy and science together in our Southern contexts because I am not convinced this is where we should be channelling our efforts. I am not alone in this endeavour. Migrating out of Poverty research done by the African Centre for Migration & Society in South Africa found that there is little value in even targeting national policies because the local level is where real, actionable change is more likely to happen.

International treaties and national policy frameworks may regulate migration, but it is ultimately a local government matter. After all, ‘At the end of the day, all migrants live in municipalities’. I also speak for others like Kihato and Landau when I say the full protection of migrants and refugees in South Africa demands a shift in both approach and language by activists and researchers. Regarding language, elsewhere, we have argued for the need to re-politicise the language and narratives of migration; to essentially deneutralise and revitalise them. Likewise, in terms of approach, the full protection of migrants and refugees requires activists and researchers to promote rights indirectly to avoid political ire and political backlash through creating ‘back-routes’ and capitalising on ‘windows of opportunity’. Through this kind of stealth advocacy, perhaps activists and researchers ‘may avoid complex and contentious public battles over rights’, instead focusing on building solidarities with ‘local’ constituencies facing similar marginalization.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration in the East and Horn of Africa: Current trends and future directions

Call for papers: Key dates
20 July 2018 - Submission of Abstracts
1 August 2018 - Acceptance Notification
1 October 2018 - Submission of full papers
27-29 November 2018 - Conference held in Mombasa

Introduction
East and Horn of Africa is a region of diverse opportunities but also experiences various challenges that have made human mobility and displacement a reality for a long time. The region experiences conflicts and political instability and also deals with impacts of chronic poverty and extreme climate variability, all of which lead to different forms of mobility and human displacement. The region plays the dual role of origin and host to refugees and asylum seekers as well as migrants. Latest statistics released by UNHCR indicate that by the end of 2017, there were over 3.2 million refugees originating mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan. In addition, there are 5.76 million internally displaced persons within the countries of Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. Mixed migration is on the rise with many travelling to South Africa, Yemen and the Middle East and northward to Europe. Human trafficking and smuggling of persons have defined migratory movements that are mostly irregular in nature. In the recent past, with the crisis in Yemen, the region has seen what can be termed as reverse migration with thousands of Yemenis seeking safety in the Horn of Africa and hundreds of thousands of mainly labor migrants returned to the region from the Middle East. Efforts to provide life-saving assistance, protection, and related humanitarian activities as well as to find durable solutions to this situation continue to be made by governments, international actors and local interventions.

Forced displacement presents a major development challenge in the East and Horn of Africa Region, accounting for some of the world’s most protracted displacement cases with limited prospects for return or self-reliance. In light of this, the “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants”, adopted the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) which provides an imperative to overcome the long-held view of refugees and migrants as a burden to societies while calling for increased solidarity and responsibility sharing in addressing displacement and mobility. It is within this context that the IGAD special summit of 2017 adopted the Nairobi Declaration and its accompanying Plan of Action on durable solutions for Somali refugees (with a much broader reach on solutions for refugees and host communities in the sub region) that further reinforces the commitments made by member states at the Leaders’ Summit in September 2016. The Nairobi Declaration is the regional application of the CRRF which seeks a multi-sectoral approach in dealing with displacement and takes cognizance of the development impacts of displacement on host communities and governments.

Despite the joint efforts, the IGAD region continues to experience significant levels of forced displacement and mixed migration flows. Forced displacement continues to exert strains on regional governments and resources, especially when they become protracted. Refugee settlements and camps as well as most of the migratory routes are often found in areas where communities have low levels of access to social services or economic opportunities. The increased numbers of refugees and undocumented migrants arriving in Europe by boats despite the numerous deaths in the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert is evidence enough to interrogate refugee protection and assistance as well as other forms of migration in and out of Africa. While intervention measures to mitigate and manage forced migration have been put in place, they however remain insufficient especially since most don’t bear in mind the development impacts and realities of displacement and migration. This insufficiency in mitigation can be partly attributed to weak collaboration between knowledge production, policy formulation and practice in the region. The planned conference is therefore an effort to provide a convergence platform for reflections on forced displacement and related migration especially in light of emerging interest by states and the international community to address displacement and migration in a more humane and sustainable manner for both those displaced and the ones that host them.

Rationale
The horn and eastern regions of Africa are experiencing various developments in the dynamics of forced displacement and mixed migration flows. While there is a wide range of institutional responses to refugees including protection, humanitarian assistance and search for durable solutions, there are also justifiable concerns on problems associated with forced displacement and migration. These are issues of internal displacement, human trafficking and mixed migration flows.
This conference seeks to address several issues. First, enable a scholarly and policy interrogation of the relationship between forced displacement and other forms of migration (Mixed migration flows). Secondly, assess and analyse new knowledge and developments in migration policies and management in the Horn of Africa and the African continent. Third, discuss how these mixed migrations flows influence and are in turn influenced by the political economy of international migration. In discussing these broad dynamics, the conference aims to help in shaping future directions of the forced displacement and mixed migration discourse, interventions and policy in the Horn and East Africa. This is also important in identifying potential avenues for collaboration between policy makers, researchers, international institutions, practitioners and governments in their pursuit to address issues related to forced migration. This is done with the objective of broadening the discussion in order to come up with much longer-term and multifaceted approaches to addressing issues of forced migration.

The continuous development of an on-going and systematic research agenda to support the emerging thinking around sustainable development approaches to managing mixed migration
and forced displacement impacts will be central to this conference. Developing research and knowledge platforms will require the building of strong partnerships with universities, think tanks and other organizations that are able to champion specific research agenda to promote a culture of learning that also drives policy orientation. The research outputs generated will be instrumental in informing policy options for IGAD Member States and influencing programming for durable and transitional solutions by key actors in the region.

Themes:
The themes that will be addressed in the conference will include the following:
• Economic and environmental impacts of refugees and IDPs
• Integration of refugees and returnees with host communities
• The economics of forced displacement
• The effects of displacement on the displaced and host communities
• Regional governance and migration
• Negotiating institutional responses to displacement
• Humanitarian space and spaces of protection
• What is a human being worth? Human trafficking and people smuggling today
• Protracted urban displacement: the minefield of needs and interests
• Linking Peace, Security and displacement
• What next? The dynamics of evolving protection space
• Durable solutions to displacement-case studies of good practices for building resilience and sustainable livelihoods for migrants/refugees/returnees
• South-South Vs South-North displacement and migration
• Local, National, Regional and Global perspectives on the rights of forced migrants
• Development Induced Displacement and Resettlement
• Refugee health and Psychosocial issues
• Gender and Migration
• ICT and migration
• The good, bad and ugly of migration in the IGAD region

Format
The conference will have two keynote addresses, presentation of papers and round-table discussions.

Submission, Review Process and Announcement of Acceptance
All papers will be subject to a review process. Papers submitted will be categorized into working papers and full papers.

Please send your abstracts to the addresses below:
Michael Omondi Owiso
Email: owisomike@gmail.com

Truphena E. Mukuna
E-mail: turumukuna@yahoo.com

Organizers:
School of Strategic and Development Studies (SDSS) – Maseno University/Kenya; the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA); and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with funding from the World Bank.



Monday, 2 July 2018

Robert Nurick at the Wilderness Festival: The impacts of deportation and forced return on migrant families and communities


What would make you cross borders without papers? Can you imagine living a transient uncertain life with the constant threat of arrest and deportation? Would you leave your children to take up dangerous and low paid jobs? This is the reality for hundreds of thousands of Cambodian migrants in Thailand.
In this thought provoking interactive workshop, we will immerse ourselves in the reality and lived experience of undocumented Cambodian migrants in Thailand. Drawing on interview transcripts we will hear the voices of migrants and their families – their challenges, aspirations and strategies – as they opt for precarious migration to make a better future for themselves and their children.

The Wilderness Festival will take place from the 2-5 August 2018 in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, UK. You can purchase tickets here. Robert's talk will take place at 13.30 on 4 August 2018.