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What is Migrants on the margins?

The vast majority of global population growth between now and 2050 will take place in cities in Africa and Asia. But, while ever larger groups of people live within urban areas, many are excluded from the benefits of urban life. This movement of migrants to informal settlements, on the margins of rapdily growing cities, are some of the least studied, yet most important patterns of migration worldwide. 

The Society’s Field Research Programme, Migrants on the margins, brings together research into migration and urbanisation to investigate four cities in Africa and Asia: Colombo, Dhaka, Harare and Hargeisa to explore these issues. 

Over two years, research traced the lives of new and established residents in 13 neighbourhoods across these four cities. None are accurately recorded and they do not appear in official maps or statistics. Overall, more than 2,000 surveys and interviews were conducted. The research brought together geographers from UK universities with international researchers to understand why people move, and why they stay. 

Find out the latest on the Migrants on the margins Field Research Programme

The Migrants on the margins resource contains materials to explore the following key questions:

  • How is migration changing cities?

  • What is internal migration?

  • Why do people move?

  • How can migration myths be challenged?

It aims to improve pupils' locational knowledge of cities in Africa and Asia, alongside geographical skills and language. It does so by sharing research from four cities:

It also aims to develop pupils' empathy and understanding of migration in a globalised world. As part of this, there is a suggested lesson activity that includes the production of a zine that will allow pupils to recap and share what they have learnt.


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Migrants on the margins - guidance for teachers


364 KB

Migrants on the margins - postcards


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Migrants on the margins - glossary


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Find out more about Migrants on the margins

Accompanying teaching resources