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The relationship between migration and poverty in Southern Africa

1. Introduction

Migration and poverty have become critical development issues in the contemporary world. Surprisingly, the two phenomena have seldom been considered interrelated except wherever anecdotal evidence is adduced on plausible effects of one on the other. Migration and poverty researchers, planners policymakers and programme implementers continue to work independent of one another, never comparing notes on the reciprocal relationship between the two. In Southern Africa, the two phenomena occupy a central place in national as well as regional discourse. Yet important networks such as the Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) and the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) continue to push their research agenda forward while oblivious of what each does and apparently, at least in the past, unconcerned about prospects for collaborative ventures. This situation demands redressing, especially because both migration and poverty exhibit varied faces, are caused by a variety of factors and precipitate diverse consequences. It is in this height that this workshop breaks new ground in the relationship between the two regional outfits.

This paper seeks to provide some thoughts, based on previous research, on the interrelationship between migration and poverty as a cause and an effect of each other. First, it defines the concepts and their scope in the context of Southern Africa. Thereafter, it analyses how migration influences poverty, followed by the reverse relationship. To illustrate specific occurrences, the paper cites selected examples in the region. Against the analysis made, the paper suggests some policy options pertaining to research and policy for the region.

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