Thursday, 24 May 2018

New Perspectives on Human Mobility in East Africa: Identifying Research Priorities

Call for Workshop Applicants
Organized by the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in
Africa (SIHMA) and the Organisation for Social Science
Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA)

Eastern Africa is associated with a complexity of movements involving different groups of
people within and outside the region. Conflicts and violence have generated a large
number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs). According to
the UNHCR, at the end of 2017, countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania
hosted more than 3 million refugees and over 5 million IDPs. Domestic and regional labour
mobility, as well as movements of workers outside the continent, are also an important
aspect of migration within the Eastern African region. Over the past years, movements of
skilled and unskilled migrants to the Gulf States have increased due to geographical
proximity and the presence of labour agreements. These mixed migration flows are driven
by multiple socio-economic, political and environmental factors and in many case involve a
high number of irregular migrants who are trafficked to countries in the Middle East,
Europe and Southern Africa. Victims of trafficking are particularly vulnerable to human
rights violations and physical abuses and are of great concern for government in the East
Africa region. All the aforementioned aspects make it imperative to gain insight into the
fundamental nature of the migration challenges in the Eastern Africa region. It is therefore
necessary to review current knowledge about migration in East Africa, identify priority
areas for future research and work toward the establishment of a research network to
support policymaking.

This workshop will take place on 20 September 2018 at OSSREA, in Addis Ababa, and
plans to create a starting point for a research agenda and strong research questions with
regard to migration research in East Africa. It also seeks to promote a greater
understanding of the migration phenomena in the region through a coordinated, synergistic
and broad-spectrum depth of research.

Selected applicants will be expected to submit a paper related to New Perspectives on
Human Mobility in East Africa and present it at the workshop. It is envisaged that a number
of selected papers will be published on the third 2018 annual issue of African Human
Mobility Review (AHMR). AHMR is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed on-line journal
published by the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa and created to encourage
and facilitate the study of all aspects of human mobility in Africa.

We rely on applicants outside Addis Ababa to draw upon their resources to fund their
travels because of our limited budget. Authors of selected paper will receive an honorarium
of $ 500 upon completion of the editorial process.

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Interested authors should submit the following
- Full Name
- Academic/Institutional Affiliation
- CV
- A 300 word Abstract to describe the ideas and arguments for the paper.

Applicants are expected to submit a full paper (maximum 8000 words) before attending the
workshop. The work should be original and not have been published or presented

Applications should be sent to Sergio Carciotto at by June 18, 2018

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Migrating out of Poverty in the news

We are delighted that the launch of the new phase of Migrating out of Poverty was covered by the Ethiopian Reporter. Here’s an English translation so you can see what they had to say.

More than 11 million Birr budget is allocated for the study
A study that investigates why citizens from different Ethiopian regions - who migrate to be house maids or for other jobs in Addis Ababa, other cities, to the Middle East and other countries - prefer illegal routes instead of the legal means was launched.

The study is to be conducted by the Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) and is to be carried out by scholars recruited from Addis Ababa University and other areas and organised into three teams. A budget of more than eleven million Ethiopian Birr has been allocated for the study.   

The study is entitled, “Migrating out of Poverty” with three themes namely, Migration Industry, Gender and Generations and Income and Remittances in Ethiopia.

Fekadu Adugna (PhD) from Addis Ababa University is the coordinator and researcher of the team that studies the “Migration Industry in Ethiopia”. He informed the Reporter that the main aim of the study is to find out why citizens migrating within country from regions to Addis Ababa and from Ethiopia to other countries prefer illegal migration routes. He explained that the study is an attempt to understand why migrants prefer non-legal brokers even though over four hundred legal agencies are available and how the non-legal brokers are able to recruit migrants for illegal migration.   

According to his explanation it has been seen and well known for many years that children can get money from their farming families who, without any hesitation and suspicion, provide their illegally migrating children with money by selling their oxen and any available assets and who are easily convinced by the persuasion of non-legal brokers.

The researcher pointed out that not only the journey of the family member but also understanding how the non-legal brokers create migrant route networks from Ethiopia until they arrive in the Middle East is a part of the study and explained that this kind of process is referred to as “Migration Industry” or “Migration Infrastructure”.

He reported that OSSREA, which was established 37 years ago by African scholars, has accomplished many projects. They have started to work on migration of citizens in Ethiopia. He pointed out that the funds for the study were obtained from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through Sussex University.

The researcher argues, “If we call migration illegal, it is difficult to rectify the problem”. He emphasises that beyond saying “they are not governed by rules” and accusing and criminalizing their act, the study is important to understand the problem thoroughly and advise them on how problem could be resolved and present findings to policy makers as part of the solution.

Trying to rectify the problem by accusing and criminalizing brokers by calling them “illegal brokers”, when it is known that double the amount of legal migrants leave the country through illegal routes every day, makes the problem more hidden, secret and disastrous.  As a result, he stressed that better results would be achieved, and the problem could be alleviated, by coming together and working together towards rectifying the problem.

Do migrants chose illegal brokers because the brokers only ask for a small sum of money; because they do not require additional criteria for migration; or is it because the brokers are uneducated and do not care much about their citizens? He added that the major task of the research team is to present recommendations to the government from results drawn from the migrants’ families at grassroots level and non-legal brokers.

He commented that instead of calling non-legal brokers ‘criminals’ which makes them hide themselves, his team started the study to create the necessary knowledge and find answers by asking them what they think should be done, if they need support, how they should be supported, and how to support them and teach them before formulating policy. He pointed out that even though the government has banned these types of journeys for the last four years because of the disasters that have happened to Ethiopian citizens in Saudi Arabia and other places, illegal migration has continued just like formal migration. Because it is necessary to correct the problems through concerted efforts, the team is trying to come up with comprehensive findings which would help to rectify the problem. He underlined that the study tries to present other study results in the area to the government and thereby to facilitate the alleviation of the problem.  

Another researcher in the team is studying the changes to the families of those who go from the regions to Addis Ababa, to other cities, and abroad. Adamnesh Atnafu (PhD) explained the underlying basis of this study is to understand family perspectives on the benefits of female and male migration.  

She added that the team studies identify whether it is the father or the mother who puts into utilisation the remittance sent by the migrant. Particularly it examines how they utilise the money to send female children to school and family and children negotiate on to bring about change in their lives.

The third research theme compares the lives of families whose members have not migrated with that of whose family members have migrated and studies the importance of remittances and the changes they bring to families. They will make an in-depth study of the family members of those who legally or illegally migrate, identify the advantages and disadvantages, and present the outcome to the government to be considered in relevant policies.   

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.