An Analysis of Ethiopian Rural-to-Urban Migration Patterns from Primary Interviews

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Abstract

Urbanization is a growing phenomenon around the world. In Ethiopia, urbanization is often initiated by extreme climatic events such as drought where rural-to-urban migration is a last-resort effort to maintain a family’s farming livelihood. To better understand the influence that climate has on macro-level drivers of migration, namely political, demographic, economic, social, and environmental factors, primary interviews were conducted with rural-to-urban migrants in the capitol city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. For this study, two sources of data are used. The first is primary interviews with 59 adult migrants from rural villages in the Debub, Amhara, and Oromia regions, who were recruited and interviewed across 18 sub-districts of Addis Ababa. Beggars, house workers, shoe shiners, labor workers, and other workers, were interviewed with the help of an Amharic/English speaking translator. The second source of data is rainfall and climate data from the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency. The most common reason for migrating cited by 73% of the sample is being unable to grow enough food or other products as a result of not enough land, high fertilizer prices, high cost of farm inputs, or poor harvest. The majority of migrant families (73%) held less than 1 hectare of land, 22% held between 1 and 2 hectare, and only 6% held more than 2 hectare. The second most common reason for migrating cited by 64% of the sample is the need for more money or job opportunity due to not earning enough from the harvest or labor work in their village. Cross-referencing migration year with available rainfall data indicates that where data is available, 71% of individuals migrated in years where rainfall was less than average. Length of time residing in Addis Ababa ranged from less than 1 year to more than 3 years, and nearly everyone in the sample reports they would not have migrated if they had enough in their villages or had received enough government support. Political, social, economic, demographic, and environmental drivers of migration are represented in the responses of Ethiopian rural-to-urban migrants. Inadequate land, a political and social phenomenon, affects demographic and economic factors. Lack of land itself is a proxy for household wealth. These factors are influenced by environmental extremes that without adequate economic buffers such as animals or labor, lead to migration. A number of policy recommendations that target each of the driving factors are provided in addition to areas of interest for future research.

Introduction

Climate variations, extreme weather events including droughts and floods, and rising global temperatures are increasing in frequency and severity around the globe [1]. Urbanization, specifically rural-to-urban migration is also a growing phenomenon around the world. Ethiopia, the second most populated country in Africa has a rapidly growing urban population with nearly four percent growth each year, twice the national population growth rate, often exacerbated by extreme climatic events such as drought [2,3]. Rural-to-urban migration is a last-resort effort to sustain the livelihoods of rain-fed agricultural households, which make up nearly 85 percent of the Ethiopian population [3]. Poor government infrastructure development, poor political will and resource allocation, and few adaptation and coping strategies result in families having to seek out additional income sources that diversify a household’s livelihood strategies [4].

Population migration is cited as a common adaptation or coping response to environmental stressors. In a country such as Ethiopia where small-scale rain-fed agriculture is the norm, environmental degradation, whether slow-onset or due to an adverse event, typically results in individuals having no other choice than to move to cities, hoping to gain employment in non-agricultural, non-affected sectors [5). This is known as “labor migration,” or the movement of able-bodied individuals from their village of origin into cities where they try to earn a labor-wage [5].

The literature on migration as an adaptation to slow-onset or cumulative environmental degradation is small, but growing. Most migration surveys that exist to date often focus on economic or environmental prompts to population movement, but fail to acknowledge that given the choice, families prefer to stay and cope or adapt to these environmental changes, prolonging or preventing the onset of migration [6,7]. Labor migration is most often cited as a last-choice coping mechanism, but does allow individuals to remit money home and pay their land-tax and governmental loans [8].

To better understand how climate influences an individual’s decision to migrate; primary interviews were conducted with rural-to-urban migrants in the Capitol city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Upon concluding this research, themes were drawn from the responses and reviewed in the context of recent research in this area. The Government Office for Science, London, recently developed a model to demonstrate the push and pull influences climate exerts on the five drivers of migration, namely political, demographic, economic, social, and environmental factors. This model was adapted to the Ethiopian context in the Hunnes (2012) review article based on the findings of this study [9,10].

This study begins with the understanding that migration is an ongoing trend in Ethiopia, and posits that environmental extremes and degradation to a rural household’s assets act as critical factors influencing the decision to migrate. This paper presents primary interviews of rural-to-urban migrants from villages in Ethiopia to the capitol city, Addis Ababa. This study assesses the driving factors for migration, posits a context-specific explanatory framework, and concludes with policy implications and suggestions for future work in this important area of research.

Research Question

Understanding Ethiopian-specific drivers of rural-to-urban migration in the context of changing climate conditions are necessary to generate feasible and functional policy instruments. The research question of interest for this study is to assess how important environmental conditions are to “pushing” and “pulling” rural-to-urban migration to Addis Ababa. One hypothesis is that environmental conditions that are deleterious to a rural-household’s livelihood, income, or subsistence, will promote or increase out-migration. A second hypothesis is that households with the fewest assets (physical, social, natural, financial, or human) will be more likely to have longer-duration or distance migrations than those with greater assets. And the third hypothesis is that communities or villages with the highest number and best distribution of “safety net” programs will have the lowest proportion of migrants.

Results of the data analysis provide the foundation for policy recommendations, implications, and further directions for future research.

Data and Methods

This study uses data from two sources. The first source, individual migration histories were obtained from primary interviews with 59 migrants of rural villages. Interviews occurred across 18 sub districts of the capitol city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Subjects were recruited based on a recommended list of criteria provided by World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) that also matched those approved by the Institutional Review Board of UCLA. In discussion with staff at WVE about migrants to Addis Ababa, it was recommended to interview beggars, house workers, shoe shiners, labor workers, and other casual day-workers such as car washers. With the assistance of an Amharic/English speaking translator (Nahom), two to four individuals were chosen, at convenience within each sub-district to interview, based on the above criteria.

Recruitment took place where Nahom approached an individual such as a shoe shiner or a car washer and introduced this researcher and himself. Occasionally snowball techniques were employed where a shoe shiner would be interviewed, and then would point out a room where a house-worker could be found for interviewing. WVE provided a written letter on WVE letterhead explaining the purpose of this research study. This letter was read by literate individuals or would be read out loud by Nahom. Individuals who met the criteria of the study, including being older than 18 and having migrated from a rural village, gave their oral informed consent to participate. At completion, 10 Ethiopian Birr (~$0.60 U.S.) were provided to each interviewee as an incentive for their participation, an amount that was again, at the recommendation of WVE. For those who did not want to complete the interview, there was no penalty, and we thanked them for their time. Should any follow-up questions arise, WVE was the contact location of this researcher during the time of the research study.

The sample is made up of 59 individuals, 39 (66%) males and 20 (34%) females, ages 18 to 45 at the time of the survey. The questionnaire that was used to guide the study was developed upon reviewing the research that existed and trying to determine where the gaps are. The questions were written in English and translated into Amharic prior to arrival in Ethiopia. The questionnaire covered topics such as reason for migration, type of employment, farming history, asset history, land size, types, number, and yield of crops, and price of farming inputs. For the full questionnaire (pre-translation) please see Appendix A.

To test whether this questionnaire would work, Nahom (translator) and I began to ask two labor workers near WVE the questions. Quickly, we discovered the questions were not successful as a) they were too involved and fairly complicated, and b) they took far too long to ask. After these two attempts, the interview guide was reworked in English, shortened and simplified, and translated again, by Nahom, into Amharic. This new interview guide can be seen in Appendix B. Pilot-testing this new interview guide proved it to be much more successful in gaining meaningful answers as well as much more successful in being completed by a migrant. Interviews were conducted orally; the only records of the interviews are hand-written notes. If clarification was needed, Nahom would prompt the migrants to expand or explain more.

The second source of data used in this study comes from the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency (CSA) and includes data on regional rainfall levels over a six year period, as well as other economic and demographic data [11].

Results

Of the 59 individuals who were surveyed, 43 (73%) reported migrating to Addis Ababa because they were unable to grow enough food or other products on their land to last them all year, with primary reasons cited as being unable to afford to pay for fertilizer or farming inputs, or because it was a poor harvest year. 18 (43%) of the sample who answered a question about crop growth indicated that there was less crop growth each year prior to their migration. 15 (36%) indicated there was variable crop growth, and 9 (21%) indicated that there was no change in crop growth. The second most common reason for migrating to Addis Ababa reported by 38 (64%) of migrants was because they wanted more money or job opportunities because they do not have enough of either at home, and did not earn enough from their harvest or labor work.

Fig. 1: Descriptive statistics of factors affecting migration

Fifteen (25%) of the migrants were labor workers, 10 (17%) were beggars, 15 (25%) were shoe shiners, 9 (15%) were house workers, and 10 (17%) were employed in a variety of other wage and labor jobs including car washing, waiting tables, lottery seller, produce seller, and concessions seller. All jobs are fairly low skill, casual, and low-wage.

Fig. 2: Type of employment descriptive statistics

Land size holdings ranged from 0 hectares for individuals whose families had to give up their land due to economic reasons, up to a maximum of 3 hectare. The findings for land size were that 37 (73%) of the migrants who responded to the question regarding their family’s land-size held less than one hectare of land, 11 (22%) held between one and two hectare, and 3 (6%) held more than two hectare of land. Most migrant families grew between one and five types of crops during the farming season, with one, two, and three crops representing 85% of the sample, the number of crops grown has a moderate strength correlation (r = 0.507) with land area.

Fig. 3: Descriptive statistics of household assets

The name of the rural village and region of origin, length of time in Addis Ababa, and finally, intention to return home were also collected. The sample location statistics were that 26 (44%) of the individuals were from Debub (Southern) region, 26 (44%) were from Amhara region (a northern region), and 7 (12%) were from Oromia (central) region though most individuals came from differing towns even within regions. Twenty-three (39%) of the sample have been Addis Ababa for less than one year, 19 (32%) have been in Addis Ababa for one to three years, and 17 (29%) have been in Addis Ababa for more than three years. These cutoffs were chosen based on a review of literature indicating differing lengths of time for short- versus long-term migrations.

Fig. 4: Descriptive statistics: village of origin and length of time in Addis

A second source of data includes rainfall and climate data from the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency (CSA). This information includes rainfall data for one or two towns within each region of Ethiopia (9 regions in total) and is used to assess average rainfall during six years between 2002 and 2010. This data was cross-referenced with the years that migrants reported migrating to Addis Ababa. Of the migrants interviewed, only 28 were able to be cross-referenced with climate data from the CSA. The remaining 31 individuals migrated in years where CSA data did not exist for rainfall levels. Of the 28 who had data available, 20 (71%) of them migrated during years where there was less rain than the average.

Discussion

Inadequate Land Area

The most common reason cited for migration was not having enough land to provide sufficient food and other resources for the year. The macro-level forces that influence this decision involve all five drivers of migration, political, demographic, economic, social, and environmental factors. Political forces include land-use tenure laws, which are also heavily tied to social forces and economic forces. The lack of adequate land influences migration through its interactions with environmental drivers and demographic drivers. To expand on these assertions, land-use and tenure laws in Ethiopia are such that all land belongs to the State. “Ethiopian peasants have the right to free land for grazing and cultivation as well as the right not to be displaced from their lands,” but individuals cannot own their land. Moreover, inheritance laws are such that households must parcel their land to their marriageable sons, as a result of social and cultural norms, effectively decreasing each successive generation’s land-holding, while providing minimal resources to women [12].

To emphasize the economic impacts, land size may be used as a proxy for a household’s assets, and directly affects their income. In conducting a correlation between land size and number of crops, the correlation is 0.507, indicating that there is at least a moderate positive relationship between land size and number and volume of crops that can be grown [13]. There is a fairly weak negative correlation between number of crops/land size and length of time in Addis Ababa(-0.167) indicating that the more land area households have, the shorter the time individuals have been in Addis.

As stated by an 18 year old female beggar whose family had 0.25 hectare:

“I came to Addis because we only have a very small land, it cannot feed all of us all year and my parents are poor. We cannot get more land. On our small land we only grow gibs (barley) for 2 months during the rainy season, and we cannot grow enough food to last us all the year.”

Similarly, a 38year old male labor worker whose family had 0.25 hectare states:

“I need more land to feed my family for the year. We only have a small land. I have three children and I have to pay back fertilizer loan, and tax, so I have to come here so my children can get enough food and also education. I need more money. If we get more rain, all year round, we maybe can feed my family all year because then we can grow product all year, but with harvest season only 2 months, I cannot grow enough on my land. If I get more land, or more product, I would not have come to Addis.”

For women, not having land is common, particularly for women who are unmarried, or whose husbands have left them, providing them with the fewest tangible assets, or reasons to stay in their village. A 45 year old female beggar states:

“We only had small land in my village, but I had no land. My parents could have given the land to me, but if I marry, then my husband will control the land. Now I am separated from my husband (divorced) and so I have no land, he keeps the land.”

Similarly, a 22 year old male labor worker states:

“After my father died, my mother got his land, but she couldn’t do anything with it, and my brothers and I are not married and do not get the land, and so she had to sell the land. She has no land now, for her, for me, she only has a home to live in. After the land is gone, I had no choice, I could not work on a farm and so I had to come to Addis.”

From a demographic perspective, smaller land area provides fewer resources in terms of crop yields and also increases a family’s risk for the effects of negative environmental impacts including drought, flood, pestilence, soil erosion, and any other environmental hazard that ultimately decreases productivity. Policy interacts with economics by forcing these small peasant farmers to pay land-tax to the government of Ethiopia each year, regardless of how successful that year’s crop is. Moreover, if a household has insufficient funds to pay for their government land-tax, they can give title of the land to someone else who works the land and gives the original household half of their harvest for consumption or selling, but the new “land-owner” is responsible for paying the government fees. This however is not providing assets to the household that previously held tenancy on that land.

These coalescing factors influence interpersonal factors leading to the ultimate decision to migrate or to stay. For a household or individual, the decision to migrate is dependent on the factors above as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal factors such as marital status and cost of moving. These factors may influence adaptation and coping responses to promote household cohesion or it can reinforce the negative consequences of environmental change and force migration to be the only remaining option.

Poor Provisioning of Government Programs or Community Buffers

A second frequently cited factor that drives migration is both the availability of government programs, and more importantly, the access to government programs, such as the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). The PSNP is a social safety net program designed by the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) as a household asset-building program to promote and protect rural livelihoods [14]. During drought, or other environmentally and economically challenging years, the PSNP acts to fill asset-gaps and provide farmers with inputs such as seeds and fertilizer for up to one year, and food supplementation, or cash vouchers for up to 3 months or in order to prevent famine [15].

As a result of low technical inputs, outmoded farming practices, inappropriate policies, land tenure insecurity, and degradation to the environment, poverty, food insecurity, and increased vulnerability to drought are the norm [16]. Moreover, small, fragmented land holdings have led to household coping strategies such as the cultivation of marginal lands, thus compounding food insecurity at the household level. Unfortunately, the GoE is only able to provision the PSNP to about eleven percent of the Ethiopian rural population due to a shortfall in resources. So, while the PSNP serves as a stopgap measure to prevent hunger for the households who can access it, the overall poor reach and availability of the PSNP influence the drivers of migration [14].

This shortage in PSNP provision influences the decision to migrate through its interactions with the five drivers of migration. The PSNP is driven by political forces such as governmental policy; namely the budget that is set aside for the program, the recipient eligibility requirements, as well as the governance and freedom to increase the breadth and depth of the program. Governmental constraints on the provision of the safety net program are related to the agriculture sector because agriculture and social protections in Ethiopia are interconnected and are a significant area of vulnerability for poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition [14].

Mr. Robel Lambisso, a water and sanitation (WASH) specialist at World Vision Ethiopia who has studied and worked with the PSNP states that, “As the number of mouths to feed increase, the amount of land is decreasing for each generation and this is a problem. The government tries to fill in some of these gaps with safety net programs, but the government is constrained and cannot get the safety net everywhere. If there is no safety net, people have to migrate to get work and have a daily wage.” Yet, it is the government that is deciding how much to budget to these programs.

These political factors push migration out of villages when this safety net and other coping or adaptation mechanisms run out, interacting with economic and demographic drivers of migration as well. Because the PSNP serves as an asset buffer, delaying emergency selloff of land or animals, it has the potential to prevent or delay migration. Moreover, the assets that the PSNP supplies, including seed and fertilizer may maintain the household demographic by maintaining the labor needed for future harvest, as well as maintaining the health and nutritional status of household workers.

The PSNP promotes a delaying effect on migration because it provides buffers to migration by providing transfers to chronically food insecure households in chronically food insecure Woredas (villages) to prevent asset depletion at the household level and to build assets at the community level. In fact, the PSNP can have a spillover effect on the community by contributing to trade and other food commodity availability [17]. As a result of gender relations or kin-obligations, the PSNP may also provide assets to families, protecting vulnerable individuals, females, and children from hunger and may prevent migration by male heads-of-household.

In many instances, the PSNP is not available in villages, and where it is available, individuals or families may not be eligible for it due to its limited resources and tight eligibility requirements or restriction on access. Some reasons noted for failure to meet eligibility requirements as reported by migrants include, not being “poor enough”, or as stated by an 18 year old male car washer, not meeting erosion requirements:

“There is a supporting program in my village and if you get erosion or damage to your product you can get support, but because we did not have erosion or damage to our product for some years, we did not get support from the program.”

So, while 47 percent of migrants had a safety net program in their village, only 25 percent of migrants or their families were able to access the program at one point in time.

In interviews with Mr. Tedessa of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Mr. Lambisso of World Vision Ethiopia they state, “The government is constrained and cannot get the safety net everywhere. Where there is no safety net in someone’s village, people may have to migrate to the city to work on construction and have a daily wage to survive” but also, “without access or utilization of safety net programs, individuals who have the fewest amount of assets have no buffer, and with no buffer, they migrate.”

Even in instances where families are able to utilize the safety net program, it is often insufficient to meet the family’s needs for the whole year, though it may delay the onset of migration. A 23 year old male shoe shiner said:

“There was a supporting program in my village. My family used the program, I used it too, but it was not enough, the program was not given directly as food, but instead as seed, wheat, and sometimes fertilizer. There was no difference between drought and other times of year in the type of support given. Not everyone could get it either. Only those of us who had nothing, not enough, but even then, it is not enough. If it had been enough, I would have stayed [in my village].”

Likely reasons that migrants feel they are better to stay in their villages include having social ties there, kinships with their families and friends. While economic activities may be constrained in villages, they are often known, whereas migrating to the city can result in unemployment and ultimately begging or living on the street. Similarly, while health care may be better in the city, the health risks may be just as dangerous if not more so than in the countryside. Therefore, there is strong evidence that having a supporting program in the village might either delay or prevent movement to the city, and the paucity of supporting programs may be an important factor in driving migration.

Fertilizer Loans and Crop Income

A third common reason cited for migration was not having sufficient funds to pay back their fertilizer loans from the government. The macro-level forces that are influencing the decision to migrate as a result of inadequate income to pay back loans include political forces such as the interest rates that have been chosen for use on government loans. Political forces are closely tied to economic and environmental forces as deviations from normal environmental conditions and services can have a dramatic impact on crop yields, which directly contributes to a farmer’s income, and thus their ability to pay back their loan. Social structure and demographics also interact with these economic forces. Males are typically responsible for obtaining the income in the family and thus paying back the loans. Moreover, in poor yield years, it is the males who migrate with their labor to earn additional income while the women stay behind to look after the children. Thus, the requirement to pay back loans changes the dynamics of the nuclear family, often creating the need for migration to earn a labor-wage.

Fertilizer costs have dramatically increased in the last five to ten years, making loan payback challenging. In fact, Mr. Tedessa of WVE says, “The most common types of fertilizer used in Ethiopia are: Urea, DAP, and NPK. Ethiopia currently imports its fertilizers, unless people are using product from their animals such as dung. Fertilizers are costing the country around 500Birr/100Kg or $267/ton, prices have gone up quite a bit for fertilizer for the past several years, particularly for the past 3 or 4 years.” He goes on to say, “If farmers choose to use synthetic fertilizer, they require 65Kg per hectare of land. Due to the high costs of buying fertilizer from the outside to the government, we eventually plan to make our own. NPK (Nitrogen, Potassium, Phos) costs 500Birr/100Kg for the government, and may cost individual farmers who borrow it from the government, 1,000Birr. Urea similarly costs the government 500Birr/100Kg, and individuals possibly 1,000 Birr. If they pay for it ahead of time, though, it costs them less since they are not taking out a loan.”

Nearly all individuals who were interviewed and who borrowed fertilizer from the government reported increased costs for the fertilizer year after year, increasing the difficulty in paying back that loan year after year. For those families who are unable to pay back their loan, they either will not receive fertilizer for the next year’s harvest, essentially killing their success as a subsistence farmer, or they will be forced to give their land to someone else to work on. According to Mr. Tefera of World Vision Ethiopia, “The result of government land ownership is that individuals cannot sell their land, it instead must be transferred to other relatives. They can contract or lease the land, but the government retains ownership.” In this scheme, the farmer obtains 50 percent of the crop from the land they have given away, which they can then sell to pay back their loans. However, these options do not afford livelihood or food security, and therefore are pushing the farmer off his land and into his only other option, migration.

One 35 year old male labor worker states that:

“Because the cost of fertilizer is increasing, the amount of fertilizer we are using decreases. Because of this, the amount of product we get is decreasing. The cost of fertilizer is now 1200Birr for 100Kg; this is a lot more than it used to be. We have one hectare of land, if we apply what is recommended to us, that costs almost 800Birr per use.”

In fact, when asked why he migrated to Addis Ababa, he states:

“I need to make more money to pay back my fertilizer. Once I make enough, I will return.”

It is important to note that the average income of an Ethiopian subsistence farmer is only about $100 per year (1700Birr per year). If the cost of fertilizer is nearly half of their income, it is clear that it is quickly becoming unaffordable.

Crop incomes provided by individual land-holdings are decreasing at the same time that fertilizer loans and other inputs are increasing. The type of agro-climate zone that households live in determines the length of the growing season, the typical rain levels, and the types of crop that will grow [18]. While the decreasing income individuals earn from their crops is a significant push factor to drive them to migrate to Addis Ababa, the primary influence resides in environmental factors. Ethiopia’s agriculture is primarily rain-fed and is thus extremely sensitive to fluctuations in rainfall. Drought results in sharp reductions in the small-scale subsistence-oriented agricultural output, dependent employment, income, and food security [18]. Political factors that affect crop incomes include food system and market structures. Economic factors include the previously described fertilizer loan payback system in addition to the price of other farming inputs. Demographic factors include family size and labor availability. Demographically, large families have more individuals who can do labor work on their farm, adding inputs when needed, fetching water from nearby streams where they exist, or creating small-scale irrigation so as to provide additional water to maximize crop yields. Large families also have the potential to be detrimental to crop income in the case of rain-dependent agriculture because where there are poor yields; a higher proportion of what exists must go to family subsistence, leaving less to sell for income.

A ten percent decrease in seasonal rainfall from the long-term average translates into a 4.4 percent decrease in food production, leading to subsequent decreases in income and increasing the risk of both livelihood and food insecurity [19]. For the majority of migrants, the amount of product they were able to grow each season prior to their migration either decreased or was labile indicating variability in environmental conditions, affecting their income and subsistence.

An 18 year old male shoe shiner whose family owned 0.5 hectare of land states that:

“The amount of product we could grow each year is decreasing. In 2002 (Et. Calendar = 2010 Gregorian calendar), there was no rain, and we have no harvest, we had not enough food, and we made no money, this year there was a little rain, but the product was still decreasing and it is not enough.”

Of note, he migrated to Addis in 2010 immediately after the harvest season, indicating that the interactions between the environment, economic, and social and demographic drivers are pushing the decision to migrate. In a good rain-year, a family who owns 0.5 hectare of land should expect to grow 0.5 metric ton = 500kg of grain on their land, but in poor rain years, much less [19].

Buffers to Migration

In addition to the push and pull factors to migration, there may in fact be buffers to migration that are interacting with the drivers in similar ways. The number of animals a family has is a direct indication of their wealth or asset level because it requires a certain level of income to purchase oxen for farming, cows for milking, and other livestock and poultry. Moreover, animals serve as buffers or “insurance” policies. In poor harvest years, families may be able to sell their animals and use that money to pay back loans on fertilizer, or to buy more food to sustain them, or to pay taxes on their land to the government, thereby acting as a cushion to delay onset of migration.

For one female house worker who was older than 18 years of age, she said that:

“Although our product is enough throughout the year, we also have cows and ox to support the farming product. We farm with ox and cows, and then when it is out of the harvest time, we work on the ox and cows, we can make milk and other product, and sell that. In 2010 we had poor rain, and had less product, but we still could make milk and ox product.”

In this instance, the household had a financial cushion to shield them from immediate migration during the poor harvest year. While this is primarily affecting the economic driver; that alone may be sufficient to influence the entire mélange of drivers to migration and should likely be studied in greater detail in future research.

Summary and Implications

Summary of Findings

As observed from primary interviews, urban migration is driven primarily by individual and family need for more income, more cash. For most migrants, migration is viewed as a temporary circumstance. The purpose of migration for most families is to fill in income and asset gaps, which when completed, should result in return-migration. However, as noted by individuals, migration is also driven by the need and/or desire for more “things” than can be obtained in the home village, such as health care, resources, or food. For nearly three out of every four migrants, the push to migrate to Addis is in response to not being able to grow enough food, a result of the interactions between not having enough land and changes in rainfall. Additionally, one of every three migrants reported not having enough land, while it may be inferred by others.

Nearly two of every three migrants reported coming to Addis for more job opportunity or for more money. As noted in the discussion, this need for better incomes is a result of insufficient land, rain, and other resources which leads to insufficient crop growth and insufficient assets. Given the sparse access and eligibility to safety nets in rural villages, there is a pull to come to Addis as a way to try to fill those asset/income-gaps through a daily labor wage that can be used to pay back loans on fertilizer, or can be used to pay for school or health care.

For the few migrants who did report having enough land, food, and assets, the pull for them to come to Addis was that there was a perceived future improvement in standard of living and increased access to technology and/or income. Upon arriving to Addis, many of these migrants did not feel their position had improved, and for many their goal was to return to their village. Of note, a World Bank Migration Study (2010) states that the reason migrants come to cities is for educational opportunities. This reason unfortunately, does not match those provided by the migrants who were interviewed, and it is interesting to note these differences [20].

Implications for Research on Climate Change Adaptation and Migration

Given the observed drivers of migration, there appears to be a need for policies that are designed to assist farmers in their villages. With appropriate political will, government policies and practices can be enacted to influence the macro-level drivers of migration making the decision to stay in their village the more desirable of the two options.

Policies that may push individuals to stay in their village include changing land-tenure and ownership laws that allow farmers and their families to own larger parcels of land. Similarly, changes to land taxation schemes, such as increasing taxes on larger factory farms, primarily producing for export, and decreasing it for the small subsistence land-holders or providing climate/crop-insurance for poor harvest years could help to change the forces that push individuals into Addis Ababa.

Improving access to local markets where individuals can buy and sell commodities at fair prices while changing the budget and eligibility of the safety net programs could improve livelihood sustainability. Instead of accepting food aid, the government could accept donations that add to income opportunities in villages. Helping farmers with the cost of agricultural inputs such as seed or fertilizer, while paying them a labor wage to work their land would improve self-sufficiency in rural markets, improve overall food stocks in the country, and would increase livelihood security, decreasing the appeal or pull of the city wages. These actions would in effect increase rural employment opportunities while decreasing producer and consumer prices.

Changes to educational systems and family social structure/gender relations could improve educational attainment by all members of the community. Increasing education for women translates into demonstrable decreases in family size and fertility rates [21]. Smaller families would increase the total number of calories each member is able to obtain from their plots of land, making them less vulnerable to negative environmental influences. These social structure changes, in addition to some of the other policy recommendations made along with appropriate disaster and climate risk reduction plans, may decrease the motivation to migrate. Providing greater environmental services, social services, and health and human services may also help provide additional buffers to migration, keeping the village environment more economically desirable than cities such as Addis Ababa.

Moreover, the addition of trees and other permanent vegetation would go far to maintaining soil health, permeability, and stability, and would help to prevent the runoff of top soil. Sustainable farming practices can be taught with peer or community leaders, and government policy could provide funding for these types of practices.

Implications for Public Health Interventions and Practice

Because water, sanitation, and food safety and security are of critical importance to the health and well-being of individuals, understanding the determinants of migration is important. This is however, only one-side of the developing world’s story. This study uncovers the reality of why some migrants come to Addis Ababa; however, it does not delve deeply into some of the health considerations migrants have to address in leaving their villages and living in the cities where air quality and a safe and adequate supply of food and water may be difficult to come by.

As climate continues to change, water will continue to be an at-risk resource in terms of its supply and its safety, impacting the health and nutritional status of individuals, rural communities, and even entire nations. The world is urbanizing, and having adequate resources such as water, food, and infrastructure in poor developing countries such as Ethiopia is going to become increasingly difficult without proper government support. Ethiopia already has some policies in place to decrease carbon emissions, but they appear to be lacking in some fundamental safeguards that may have larger impact on the health of its people.

For future research, it will be important to travel into rural villages to gain a fuller understanding of their service provision and physical access to food and water. Understanding why some individuals stay while others have left their village, should provide a broader perspective and more detailed interventions that the government of Ethiopia can take to further their development, quality of life, and health, and help direct them out of poverty, while attaining higher levels of health and nutritional status in this dynamically changing world.

References

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