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December 21st, 2017

Rural Africa in motion. Dynamics and drivers of migration south of the Sahara

Published by FAO & CIRAD,

This atlas (PDF) by FAO and CIRAD offers a comprehensive analysis of the existing migration patterns as well as the diverse and multifaceted factors that impact on migration practices. Sub-Saharan Africa has a long history of internal and international migratory movements. Migration patterns and dynamics from, to and between rural areas are profoundly differentiated across regions, and flows have considerably evolved over time. Yet, more recently, rural migration takes place in the unique situation of a major rural and urban demographic increase. SSA’s population is expected to increase by 1.4 billion by 2050 which is an unprecedented demographic push. This unique population dynamic translates into a massive increase of the labour force. This represents both an opportunity for growth but also a challenge for SSA countries which will need a conducive economic and institutional environment to foster economic diversification, boost job creation and absorb new labour market entrants in the next decades. Both urban and rural areas are affected but, due to a delayed and stabilized pace of urbanization, population in rural areas continues to grow steadily. Based on the existing distribution of population and estimated trends in migration to cities, nearly 60% of these new workers (about 220 million) are likely to be in rural areas. This results in a challenging densification of rural areas, with direct impacts on rural livelihoods, increased mobility and diversification of activities. Rural migrants are mostly young people with limited education and employable skills, and the majority of them come from households relying on agriculture. These population dynamics will place a huge pressure on rural economies. Due to their limited diversification and to the recurring importance of agriculture in activities and incomes, the evolution of the sector will be decisive and the possible pathways will depend on the pressure on natural resources and their management, as well as on technical and organizational innovations that would be facilitated by a conducive economic and institutional environment. The complexity of rural migration calls for better policy coherence between migration and sectoral policies. It calls for strategies for inclusive growth that create conditions to live in peace and prosperity, by fostering rural-urban linkages, creating income generating opportunities and diversification to off-farm activities in rural areas, promoting investments in agriculture and rural development, increasing resilience of rural livelihoods, fostering climate change adaptation, and promoting territorial and integrated approaches to develop sustainable food systems. It also requires a political commitment to look at migration as an opportunity for the development of both countries of origin and destination and to promote a better management of migratory flows, through regular and safe migration channels. New rural livelihoods are contributing to intensifying rural-urban linkages and are part of the reshaping of regional dynamics and territorial development. Supporting these new dynamics with adequate public policies and multi-stakeholder strategies is of critical importance for the future of the continent.

Curated from fao.org