Image by Natalie Soysa
A new report outlining the results and outcomes of the Society’s field research programme, Migrants on the margins, is now available to read online.
Migrants on the margins was a five-year collaborative project that investigated the movement of migrants into and around four of the world’s most pressured cities: Colombo in Sri Lanka, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Harare in Zimbabwe and Hargeisa in Somaliland. Supported by the Society, the research team, led by Professor Michael Collyer (University of Sussex) and Professor Laura Hammond (SOAS, University of London), adopted a comparative approach to look at the opportunities available to migrants to better understand their experiences and vulnerabilities.
The team engaged with both newly arrived and well-established residents of 13 neighbourhoods in the four cities through focus groups, surveys, walk along interviews, oral histories, Q methodology, and GIS and participatory community mapping workshops.
Reflecting on the importance of the issue, Michael said, “Between now and 2050 virtually all of the world’s population growth will occur in cities, and this growth will be predominantly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We wanted Migrants on the margins to explore the impact of migration on low income neighbourhoods in these regions and to demonstrate the centrality of geography to major contemporary world issues through the interrelated themes of migration, urban growth, economic development, political violence, and climate change.”
The key findings from the project have shed light on the incredible challenges of living in these neighbourhoods as well as the significant levels of population mobility, or churn, within these communities. Evictions were found to be commonplace and extremely damaging to the long-term livelihoods of residents, even many years after an eviction had taken place. The research also highlighted the clear gender differences between men’s and women’s roles in communities as people moved from rural to urban lifestyles and how people can easily become ‘trapped’ in the cities, unable to move to better neighbourhoods and without the resources to move back to their previous home.
The research shows that solutions to these issues are achievable when policy makers consider that migration is unlikely to be stopped and that legislation aiming to stop people moving is rarely successful, especially where people are moving within their own country. Policy makers also need to understand that gender differences remain fundamental to any policy interventions and that migration to urban areas transforms what is traditionally seen as men’s and women’s work in the communities. Equally, the overwhelming impact and ongoing fear of forced evictions found in the report shows how tenure security is the first step to sustainable improvements in residents’ living conditions. Finally, the research points to the need for policy makers to consider the detrimental impact climate change has on city populations and how it can be a significant factor in affecting people’s mobility resulting in residents becoming ‘trapped’ in low-income neighbourhoods with limited resources to move elsewhere.
Results from the research are continuing to influence policy within the four cities, and the research team have worked to support local policy makers and municipalities to improve the situations that migrants find themselves in.
Read the Migrants on the margins full report
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