Impact of rural-urban migration on rural migrant households in the surroundings of Kigali. How migration affects their livelihood.
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This master research examines the impacts of rural-urban migration on rural migrant households in Rwanda. This is investigated in terms of both the loss of labour forces due to migration and the impact of resource-transfers between the migrant(s) and rural migrant households. This study pays attention to the extent to which this impact differs for households with different social-economic status. From 260 household surveys and 20 in-depth interviews with rural households in four rural research areas in the surroundings of Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, appears that rural-urban migration has positive impact on the livelihoods of rural migrant households when the migrant(s) send sufficient money, food or goods back, which can be used to diversify or to improve their livelihood and to offset the negative effects of the loss of labour forces, mainly by hiring labour forces. This concern mainly the better-off households, who receive frequently high amounts of money, food and goods from relatively well-educated migrant household member(s) in Kigali. They have a large buffer in the form of income, livestock and land to absorb the loss of labour forces and can offer the highest prices on the rural wage labour market. They experience improvements in food consumption, health, education and housing as a result of migration, and sometimes they even use their increased income for improved farming, livestock, small trade and business. In contrast, the poorest households often receive few, infrequently or even no money from their poorly-educated and unsuccessful migrant household member in the city. They have no or few financial and physical capital in the form of income, land and livestock to absorb the lack of labour forces. Their competitiveness on the labour market is poor, because they cannot afford to offer high labour prices. As a result they experience increased workload, because of insufficient replacement of the migrant(s) and are often forced to work for other, mostly better-off households. Migration policies should take into account the heterogeneity of the rural population in the surroundings of Kigali. There are the poor and very poor households whose livelihood significantly differs from better-off households on practically all livelihood assets. The fact that mainly better-off households take advantage of rural-urban migration refers to increasing inequalities in rural areas and asks pro-poor growth policies and migration policies of the Rwandan government to focus on the group of chronically poor and often female-headed migrant households who have no or very few land and livestock, rely on working for others and receive insufficient or no money and goods from an underprivileged migrant in the city. Rural-urban migration is selective by access to wealth in terms of income gained by educating children. Rural households that have invested materially in educating their children receive considerable more resources from such migrants where they remit. In fact, such households obtain sustained prosperity by investing in the schooling of their children. For this reason, the migration policies of the Rwandan government should focus on the improvement of education levels of the poorest rural households.