By Alemu Tesfaye
The Migrating out of Poverty Ethiopia project inception workshop was held at Soramba Hotel on the 20 February 2018. The focus of the workshop was to bring together stakeholders composed of academia, civil society, policy makers, international organizations, private consultants and the media to discuss the three research themes of Migrating out of Poverty research project in Ethiopia. The workshop was attended by representatives from the bureau of immigration affairs, EU-Ethiopia, IOM-Ethiopia, CCRDA (Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Agency), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Fana Broadcasting Corporation (the largest private broadcaster in Ethiopia), Reach Consult PLC, ORBIS-Ethiopia and scholars from the Addis Ababa University.
The workshop was opened by the Executive Director of OSSREA, Dr. Truphena Mukuna with a welcoming speech and a brief history about OSSREA. Following that the floor was open for introduction of participants. In order to give a wider view and better understanding for participants about the Migrating out of Poverty project, a short video on the three research themes of Migrating out of Poverty by the theme leaders, Dr. Priya Deshingkar, Dr. Dorte Thorsen and Dr. Julie Litchfield was shown.
Dr. Fekadu Adugna, research lead for the Migration Industry theme and Dr. Tekalign Ayalew, senior researcher, highlighted that recently migration and cross-border human mobility has become one of the top global concerns in development and security agendas. To discuss these issues in view of ethnic, gender and religious dimensions, the researchers indicated that the study focuses on brokerage and infrastructure that shape migration. Furthermore, they indicated that the study also investigates the interplay between different private – formal and informal brokers – humanitarian and state actors and institutions, including social networks and technologies that inform, facilitate and condition the migration process.
In their presentation they explained that Ethiopia is a source, transit and destination country for international migrants. The research project will explore the role of the migration industry in organizing migratory departures from Ethiopia and in cross border mobility. Even more, by going beyond the victimization, individualizing and criminalizing tendencies, they indicated that the research study will highlight the context in which the practices of brokering and smuggling emerge and work. The researchers will investigate how selected government organizations, brokers and private employment agencies engage in the recruitment, mobility and placement of migrants in the Middle East as well as overland and stepwise migratory journeys towards South Africa and Europe.
Dr. Adamnesh Bogale, the research lead of Gender and Generation theme of the Migrating out of Poverty project in Ethiopia, explained that migration experiences vary across genders and generations. There are complexities surrounding norms and practices guiding the responsibilities of different household members, dependencies and interdependencies within families. She indicated that up until now there has been little evidence generation on the impact of migration on the household and the dynamics of the household on migration processes and decisions. By exploring the nature of the participants’ experiences and their perceptions and attitudes about gendered and generational relations through the lens of migration, it will be possible to understand intra-household dynamics for analysis to help researchers and policy makers to understand the concerns surrounding the issues.
The last session was presented by Dr. Asmelash Haile, lead for the Income and Remittances theme in Ethiopia. The overall objective of this theme is to understand whether, and to what extent, migrant-sending households benefit from migration by explicitly identifying the counterfactual scenario. He described how the research will explore the welfare levels that might have been enjoyed by the households if they had not experienced any migration. The study will also try to find out the importance of remittances in ensuring benefits to migrant-sending households and drivers of migrant intentions.
The final session of the workshop was for discussion, questions, comments and reflections by participants on the three research themes. Participants expressed their positive reception and willingness to work with the research team indicating that the issues raised were timely and relevant. They also indicated that a mixed methods approach would have been a better approach to address some of the research questions. In addition to this, participants informed the research teams of the importance of sharing information and data with other research organizations which work on related issues. The participants also pointed out the importance of working with community-based organizations.
Finally, the research theme leaders thanked the participants for their inputs in the form of questions and comments. Confirming to some of the comments the team ensured participants that they will try to accommodate the inputs that they got from the workshop and also informed the participants that they will engage with them periodically throughout the lifetime of the project. The research team also acknowledged that the workshop gave them a great opportunity to bring together various stakeholders on migration issues to help them fill the gap on the three research themes.