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.   

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