Title: 'The challenge of coping with mobility within a decentralized context' Subtitle: 'Response of local governments, NGOs and traditional chiefs to internal and international migration in two districts of the Brong Ahafo region in Ghana'
Vletter, J.M. de
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Abstract International migration of migrants from developing countries has become a common phenomenon for many people migrated abroad, as well as for family members and communities who stay behind. During the last decades, remittances have become increasingly important in the form of regular flows of money sent home by migrants, but also in the form of commercial investments by migrants in the places of origin, e.g. by the establishment of SMEs and other commercial activities. Also, decentralization has become dominant during the last decades with increased responsibility and decision-making power for authorities at the lower levels within society. However, both decentralization and the increased transnational movements of people, flows of money and goods have also increased the complexity of power structures and accelerated numbers of competing interests, which makes it very interesting to research what is really happening at the local level within developing countries. Ghana is a very good example of a country in which all these aspects play a role and where both ‘modern’ local governmental structures as well as ‘traditional’ power systems gain more and more influence by building in various ways on development at the local level. This research aims to discover the role of these local stakeholders, which include employees of Municipal Assemblies (modern local government system), traditional chiefs (traditional system) and civil society organizations, such as NGOs, and their response to the increased mobility at the local level. Both internal and international migration are part of research focus, in order to get a broader perspective about the perceptions, plans, policies and concrete activities undertaken by these stakeholders in their response to mobility at the district level. Apart from these forms of response to migration, attention will be paid to contextual aspects that may influence the local response to mobility, such as the financial and human capacity of the stakeholders, their cooperation strategies and the role of national migration policies towards diaspora for example, as possible influencing factors on their response. In the African context of Ghana, compared to similar studies done in Asia and Latin America, the level of cooperation and social networks by local stakeholders, the type of mobility (internal or international) and political priorities by local governments and NGOs, seem to be decisive factors in the level and intensity of the local response to migration in two Ghanaian districts of the Brong Ahafo region. Thus, the adequacy of the response seems not strongly related to human capacity for example and to a lesser extent to financial capacity, which was mostly the case in similar studies done in Bolivia, but seems rather influenced by the complexity of competing interests at the local level in Ghana and (hidden) power relations between stakeholders at the local and or between local and regional or national levels within the country.