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.