P 49

Do I Stay or Do I Leave? Rural Transformations and Migration in Africa

Panel abstract
Scholars and practitioners have shown a renewed interest to rural Africa in the last decade, not least because of the commercial demand for farmland. Rural areas on the continent are increasingly exposed to new technologies and globalized markets. This has far-reaching consequences for local communities, essentially leading to rural transformation. This rural transformation includes changes in land use and ownership, agricultural production, and rural labour markets, all of which have repercussions in terms of human mobility.
Rural transformation contribute to migration flows in at least two ways. Firstly, in many of Africa’s rural areas, evidence shows ongoing land consolidation resulting in larger farm sizes despite rising population densities that would lead us to expect shrinking farm sizes. This suggests that smallholders give up farming and leave their land – either by leasing or selling it to more efficient farmers. In some cases smallholders are forcibly displaced from their land. Secondly, agricultural productivities are starting to rise due to more capital-intensive production. This, however, releases labour that without alternative employment opportunities also contributes to migration flows.
The effects of rural transformation on poverty, inequality, and food security as well as environmental repercussions are of interest for this panel. Outmigration is a key coping-strategy of rural households. Which households benefit from rural transformation, which households decide to stay and which households leave?

Time: Thursday, 28/06/2018, 4.30 - 6.30 pm
Venue: Hörsaalgebäude, HS 17

Kerstin Nolte (GIGA Institute of African Affairs, Hamburg)
Franzisca Zanker (Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, Freiburg)

Erik Plänitz (Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, Freiburg)
Theo Rauch (Humboldt University of Berlin)
Simone Rettberg (University of Bonn)
Peter Narh (University of Ghana, Accra)


Paper abstracts

Erik Plänitz
Fixed on the Rural - Neglecting the Urban?

The proposed paper provides an intentional contrast to the overall panels’ focus on the rural by calling for increased scientific attention for the urban. African cities already are and will be facing enormous challenges arising from changing climate conditions. Increased frequencies of rainfall or sea-level rises threaten huge parts of urban settlers living in flood prone areas. City districts are likely to be submerged by the ocean in the coming decades. Coincidently, projections of population trends suggest that urbanization rates will remain at high levels. Rural-to-Urban migration increase the pressure on informal settlements that are exactly situated in those areas most exposed to changing climate conditions. The impacts such climate change conditions can have on local livelihoods already under socio-economic stress, may contribute to the onset of urban violence. In sharp contrast to these possible developments, contemporary scholarship on the relation between climate change and conflict has a strong focus on the rural. In order to empirically support this observation, I conduct a systematic literature review of peer reviewed journal articles looking at trends and patterns of this research field. The review finds that there is a significant anti-urban bias in climate change-conflict research. Despite the fact that rural livelihoods and avenues into conflict differ from urban dynamics, very little has been done to address these diverse patterns. The paper argues for more research on multi-causal pathways from changing climate conditions to violence, particularly in urban areas. Understanding the links between climate change and urban violence is crucial for developing adequate adaptation and mitigation policies. Those policies do have direct implications on the individuals’ decision whether to stay or to leave.

Theo Rauch
Rural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

The present debate on rural transformation reflects a paradigm shift in the way the issue of rural development is being addressed. While, in past decades, rural development was mainly considered from a micro-level perspective, focussing on farming systems and value chains, nowadays the macro-economic perspective of structural change prevails in rural development studies. This paper, which is based on a study conducted as part of a research project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to highlight rural transformation trends in sub-Saharan Africa. Based on these findings, the authors will contribute to the debate on how to shape transformation dynamics in a socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable manner.

Simone Rettberg
Rural Transformation in the Ethiopian Lowland Frontier: Shifting Patterns of Migration and Pastoral Mobility

Pastoral groups inhabiting the arid and semi-arid drylands of Ethiopia have been faced with tremendous changes within the last decades, which has contributed to major structural transformations within their livelihood system. Mobility, flexibility and multi-local livelihoods have always been key constitutive factors of pastoral adaptation and resilience in a context of high climatic insecurity. But pastoral forms of communal land use and movements between widely dispersed grazing areas have come under increasing pressure due to governmental efforts for sedentarization and land appropriation for irrigation agriculture, characteristic of frontier processes. It will be argued that the ongoing transformation framed as ‘development and modernization of backward areas’ is neither ecologically sustainable nor socially inclusive. The recent growth of small and medium towns in the dryland periphery is mainly driven by an impoverishment of mobile pastoralists and in-migration of labour-migrants from highland areas. The paper will explore the shifting forms of migration and mobility in the context of capitalist accumulation within the dryland frontier and it will discuss evolving risks and opportunities. The analysis is based on the results of an empirical research project on Rural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa funded by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Peter Narh
Outcomes of Corporate – Community Resource Relations for Sustainability and Migration in Ghana and Kenya

Harnessing of environmental resources brings corporate entities and communities in a relationship that have implications for environmental conservation, livelihoods, and rural transformation in general. In this contribution, empirical evidence will be drawn from research that is currently being conducted on corporate-community relations surrounding the sustainability of environmental resources (resource relations) in cashew nut production and processing in Sunyani in Ghana, and Sugarcane production and processing in Mumias, Kenya. The research seeks to understand environmental resource and livelihood sustainability outcomes of agro-processing and associated sustainability reporting arrangements on communities. This contribution will attempt to respond to the question of how such corporate – community resource relations and their outcomes are shaping migration to and out of these communities. In response to environmental sustainability concerns of economic growth, corporate entities are rapidly moving beyond economic models toward sustainability models in their operations, this shaping their relations with communities. Associated with this, governments require sustainability reporting from firms. Understanding the implications of these resource relations and sustainability reporting frameworks for community environmental resources, livelihoods, and social processes can enhance policy effectiveness for sustainable transformations.