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Rural-rural seasonal migration as livelihood adaptation strategy among rural households in northern Ghana

Guba, B. Y. (2019) Rural-rural seasonal migration as livelihood adaptation strategy among rural households in northern Ghana. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00085947


Dryland rural livelihoods in many parts of Africa are increasingly under stress as a result of dependency on seasonal unreliable weather for their labour-dependent agricultural production, and changes in the socialeconomic landscape. Seasonal migration is a well-established strategy used by these households to cope with shortfalls in food and income. Research to date has focused on rural-urban seasonal migration, despite rural-rural seasonal migration also being an important activity. This study addresses this gap in knowledge to better understand the role of rural-rural seasonal migration in northern rural Ghana in supporting and transforming rural livelihoods. The research examines (1) the factors influencing changing rural livelihood dynamics in northern Ghana (2) the role of social networks in mediating the process and who benefits and (3) the impact of sociocultural factors on gendered migration opportunities. The study uses an ethnographicled approach, using in-depth interview, guided questions and participatory focus group activities to collect data with 200 respondents from two communities, Korro and Naawie in the Lambussie District of the Upper West region. While there are multiple drivers on migration, this study found cultural identity and social status to be an important driver of seasonal ruralrural migration because retaining traditional social identity remains a reflection of a household’s ability to establish annual food security and perform locally important cultural functions within the community. This aspect has been undervalued in other migration studies. Both bonding and bridging social networks are used in the migration process, however, they vii both yield different outcomes. This finding challenge existing understanding that assumes one form of social network will be more significant in facilitating migration. Differentiated outcomes can be explained by the adoption of particular approaches, and in this example three distinct migration activities of cash labour, and charcoal production were characterised for different groups. One group excluded from the opportunities were found to be married women, due to local patriarchal and social norms. Yet a few had successfully navigated this challenge and the study explored this gendered and intra-household aspect. The insights from the study highlight the vital role that rural-rural seasonal migration plays for rural livelihood diversification, shifting livelihoods beyond simply coping to being able to adapt and reframing their livelihood trajectories, and how the mechanisms of migration reinforce social identity. Greater attention and support should be given to the contribution of rural-rural seasonal migration to transformation in rural societies, and particular consideration still needs to be given to generating equality in gender participation as a mechanism for women’s empowerment.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Osbahr, H. and Arnall, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:85947


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