Return migration and rural livelihood in Southwestern Burkina Faso
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Land is fundamental to the lives of rural people. It is a source of food, shelter, income and social identity. Secure access to land reduces vulnerability to hunger and poverty. However, for many of the world’s extremely poor rural people in developing countries, secure access is becoming more tenuous than ever with respect to the rising competition over land. The research was carried out in Burkina Faso, where after the coup d'etat in Cote d'Ivoire in 2002 some (official) 350,000 Burkinabè migrants went back to Burkina Faso. Return migrants' status was not the same for all: some returnees were the children of Burkinabè immigrants born in Cote d'Ivoire who had never been given full Ivorian citizenship, and many of them were entering Burkina Faso for the first time. Due to the hard environmental conditions of the north and central area of the country, the majority of returnees did not necessarily decide to go back to the areas where they or their family originated from, they also moved to other areas of Burkina Faso that had become attractive because of the availability of land. The newly returned migrants (who added three percent to Burkina Faso's 12 million population) though put a strain on the already scarce resources as they caused an increase in the competition over land endangering the delicate local environment and social balance. Moreover, with the returnees resettling the risk of them failing to reconstruct safe livelihood strategy increased. The main argument of this thesis is that the necessary prerogative for any sustainable livelihood approach to the reintegration process is to secure land tenure. In order to achieve this diverse issues played a part, such as personal (human-financial capital), environmental (availability of natural resources) and social (social capital) and area (physical capital) characteristics. Moreover land tenure security is at the base of food security which is the first objective for sustaining any livelihood, which also includes housing, social status and a means for future generations.