“Rural migration in sub-Saharan Africa: patterns, drivers and relation to structural transformation”, FAO Rural employment working paper

GovInn is pleased to share the new FAO working paper “Rural migration in sub-Saharan Africa: patterns, drivers and relation to structural transformation” which was published at the end of 2019 but only posted recently on the FAO website. GovInners were deeply involved in its preparation with Sara Mercandalli and Bruno Losch as editors, as well as Chris Nshimbi and Robin Bourgeois.

The paper provides an up-to-date review of the literature on the patterns and drivers of rural migration in sub-Saharan Africa and explores their relation to rural and structural transformation. It aims at feeding the current policy debate on migration.

This working paper is a companion of the FAO-CIRAD Atlas “Rural Africa in motion – Dynamics and drivers of migration South of the Sahara”, published in English at the end of 2017 and in French mid-2018. GovInn had been deeply involved in its preparation. The atlas was launched in South Africa during the GovInn Week 2017.

Based on a mixed approach that combines a critical literature review of past, current and future drivers of migration and analyses of available data, the paper first elaborates a pluri-disciplinary and comprehensive conceptual framework for the understanding of the drivers and patterns of rural migration. It then examines the evolving patterns of African rural migration and presents renewed migration characteristics, which have emerged over the last decades. It reveals that migration is performing a range of socio-economic functions far beyond the only transfer of labour from agriculture to other sectors and from rural-to-urban areas. As such, migration processes highlight possible new structural transformation paths, responding to existing challenges faced by the region in terms of demographic and economic transition. The paper finally discusses the characteristics and dynamics of the drivers using existing datasets and case studies. It highlights the diverse and multifaceted nature of the drivers of rural migration and the way they act in combination to shape African rural migration dynamics today and their links to contemporary regional and sectoral processes of change.


You can access the full working paper here.