Rural-urban migration in southwestern rural Uganda - The perceptions and strategies of the left-behind
Around the globe a phenomenon called rural-urban migration occurs which means that people move from rural to urban areas. The world today gets more and more urbanized and 2007 was the year when more than half of the world’s population lived in urban areas. This pattern of movement seems to keep on, especially in developing countries where the urban areas are expanding. Rural-urban migration can be analyzed on a global scale but it is also important to understand what impact this process has on a local and personal scale. When it is mostly the able-bodied (the physically stronger and often educated), younger generation that moves from the rural to the urban areas it is the left-behind, older generation that is left with the responsibility for the agricultural production. They need to find new ways of coping with their livelihoods. The aim of this study was to examine the strategies rural farmers use to maintain their livelihoods for the purpose of coping with rural-urban migration of the younger generation. The aim was examined by answering the following questions: How does rural-urban migration of the younger generation affect the livelihood opportunities of the farmers? Coupled to this; what strategies do the farmers use to maintain their livelihoods? This study was operationalized in the south-western part of Uganda in the village Kigarama and its surroundings. The questions have mainly been answered by using semi-structured interviews. They were made with 14 farmers in Kigarama and each interview took about one hour. The interview-guide that was used focused on the farmers’ thoughts about what kind of effects or challenges they experienced on their livelihoods when younger household members (mainly the farmers’ children) migrated to urban areas and the strategies used to maintain their livelihoods. Focus was also on general thoughts about rural-urban migration and the future of farming and agricultural development both on a personal and a national level. The results of this study show that rural-urban migration made an impact and affected the farmers’ livelihoods in terms of time spent on the farm, depletion of the able-bodied in the rural areas and even economic effects were shown. The main strategies for coping with these effects were for example to employ local workers or to spend more time on the farm. The results from this study have been analyzed through the so called livelihood framework (LF) which is a framework used to understand how underlying causes and factors directly or indirectly determine people’s access to resources or assets and thus their livelihoods.