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Kenya Urban Rural Migration

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To what extent does rural-urban migration from the Lake Bogoria area of Kenya relate to core-periphery perceptions?
Migration is an important part of human geography, and an interesting topic to study in Kenya where there is, and continues to be a sharp increase in the number of people relocating to its cities. Currently, 40% of Kenya’s population live in urban areas and this figure is expected to triple in the next 40 years (Khazan 2013). Migration has many effects on the rural and urban communities involved, as well as the environment and the rate of development of certain areas. Furthermore, migratory patterns can be useful indicators of the geography of economic opportunities within a country (Potts 2013), therefore I wish to establish exactly why people decide to migrate. My research aims to look beyond the assumptions made about the reasons behind rural-urban migration in Kenya and relate the push and pull factors of migration to the core-periphery concept. I wish to find what the people of Lake Bogoria think about urban and rural areas, and where perceptions of these areas are derived from. It is important to carry out research in this field in order to obtain an idea of future migration patterns in Kenya and the reasons shaping them. A recent article (Khazan 2013) reporting of Kenyan migrants taking their cows with them to the city has sparked an idea that there is perhaps a blend in the boundaries between the urban core and rural periphery. Lake Bogoria lies just north of the Equator in the Lower Rift Valley area of Kenya. It is a suitable area to carry out our research as I have access to a wide range of participants who have experience of migration to and from rural areas.
My research will focus around the following research aims in order to answer my chosen title question: * To identify the dynamics of migration in Lake Bogoria- who migrates, where to and why * To investigate participant’s perceptions of their local area, and the city * To investigate young people’s perceptions of their local area and the city, and their future migration plans * To link our findings to the core-periphery ideas of migration
Literature Review Past literature has managed to identify two main types of migration in Kenya; the first involves one member of the household relocating to an urban area, and the second sees the whole family relocating as one unit (Agesa & Kim 2001).The general assumption made by previous literature is that people migrate in order to better themselves (Ravenstein 1885, Todaro 1969), although Connell et al (1976) concludes that the decision making for an individual to migrate often involves other household members. Hoddinott (1994) explains the pattern of migration for farming households in Kenya where the son enters a ‘migration contract’ with his parents to decide whether he shall leave the rural area and send home remittances or stay in the rural area to maximise household incomes using livestock and agriculture. Further literature by Bigsten (1996) also examines migratory patterns in Kenya, taking a specific focus on circular migration as explained by Hoddinott (1994) where one household member moves to the urban. Nelson (1992) highlights that those who have migrated to the urban are never a permanent fixture; ‘their earnings have always been invested in land in rural areas’ (pp 121).
Agesa & Kim (2001) explains the main drivers of rural-urban migration, stating that it stems from the unbalanced economic development of the country resulting in the rural areas experiencing a lack of opportunities and infrastructure where the only job option is within agriculture. In contrast the urban economies are able to offer higher wages, along with far better infrastructure and amenities leading to a better quality of life. Adeola (2013) explains how migration can help improve income, education and future prospects for families and individuals as well as highlighting the importance that these perceptions of destination urban areas may not be so true in reality. Flint and Taylor (2007) too state that core areas have an advantage in the world economy, and one of the key drivers of migration, as explained by Braunvan (2004) is that people are pulled to prosperous areas, and pushed from areas entering decline. Adeola (2013) highlights the damaging effects rural-urban migration can have to both the destination locations and the farming communities left behind. Increased urban populations result in a strain on housing and amenities, and for the rural areas involved there is a loss of labour meaning farm sizes and therefore crop yields must be reduced. Aromolaran (2013) explains the perceptions people hold on rural-urban migration in Nigeria, highlighting that the city can bring economic, social, cultural and personal benefits to an individual. There does however seem to be no acknowledgement of the negative perceptions people hold of the city. This research also examines the benefits that remittances can have for rural areas in the form of school fees, farming technology, and youth and female empowerment, showing that migration to urban areas can in the long run benefit rural areas also. Migration theories in the past which have focussed on developing countries have been described as gender blind. This gender blindness led to theories assuming that men and women chose to migrate for the same reasons and research involving women only examined how they were coping with agricultural activities in the absence of men (Wright 1995). However, thanks to feminist driven research in Africa, the independent movement of women has been given recognition resulting in literature focussing specifically on female migration being published, such as work by Chant (1998) looks at the household as a ‘social institution in which gender is embedded’ (pp 5)and relates migration patterns to household composition.
Glassman (2009) best describes the core-periphery concept as being a model of uneven development due to human activity. Core and periphery areas can occur at many scales and this instance we are looking at a national level where the core is made up of cities and the periphery the rural areas. Terlouw (1992) speaks of how core and periphery regions stem from one being rich, and the other poor, and this can be translated to the difference in economic development between rural and urban parts of Kenya.

Methodology In the field of human geography, qualitative methods are effective as they give us a chance to get a good understanding of the experiences and feelings of the participants (Dwyer and Limb 2001). The final chosen methods were semi-structured interviews with adults and semi-structured focus groups with school children. Semi-structured approaches allowed for fluidity meaning participants could direct the flow of the conversation, yet as the researcher I was still able to ensure that all areas are covered. During each interview and focus group we took extensive notes which were typed up at the end of each day, looking for emerging themes. However when doing so it was important not to impose your own pre meditated themes on to the data in order to prevent pre conceptions distorting the end results (Patton 1980).
Semi-structured interviews Our first semi structured interview took place at the local primary school with two teachers, asking about their perceptions of the city and migratory patterns. We then enquired about what the curriculum states about migration and the views of the city and migration they pass on to their students. We then interviewed two female return migrants from the Bogoria community; this was good as it gave us the chance to question whether their perceptions of the city were true in reality. Next we spoke to a number of staff who worked at the Lake Bogoria National Reserve; a number of these were students on placement, and from a variety of background. Questions were based around their views on the areas where they had spent their childhood, where they wish to live in the future, their perceptions of Bogoria and perceptions of urban areas. We finished the research by speaking to community members from remote parts of the Lake Bogoria Nature Reserve. The majority of participants spoke English well and so the language barrier did not cause any problems. However, when talking to a few members of the community a translator was used, and it came to our attention that at times the translator may have been telling us what he thought we wanted to hear, or not asking the questions as accurately as we wished.
Semi-structured focus groups Interviewing children in groups can give them more confidence than they would have when speaking to a stranger in a one to one interview (Greig and Taylor 1999), therefore this method was ideal to encourage the children to speak willingly. The first focus group took place at Lake Bogoria Secondary School with six boys and four girls aged 13-19. Darbyshire et al (2005) advises that focus groups revolve around a specific theme so we decided to ask questions about their future aspirations and any plans to migrate, as well as finding out whether their parents or elder siblings had migrated in the past. The second focus group was with children from the local primary school. After discovering that the school had actually finished for the Easter holidays we had a slight panic but luckily were able to round up 5 children; a boy aged 13 and 4 girls aged 12-14. Although originally we had planned to additionally speak with children younger than this, due to the language barriers that may not have been feasible anyway. James (1995) suggests that a good way to get children to communicate their views is through the use of drawings. In this focus group we asked the children to draw us pictures of their ideal homes and state the location in order to gain an idea of their aspirations in relation to future potential migration. Problems can arise with focus groups amongst children where some children may dominate the conversation more than others (Greig and Taylor 1999). We found that in this instance, the boys tended to speak more than the girls. However this could be a reflection of the dominance of males in this culture and if I were to carry out similar research in the future I would split the groups in to separate genders.
A number of ethical issues arise with this project; firstly working with children, secondly carrying out research in a foreign country, and finally asking potentially sensitive questions. Due to time constraints we were not able to gain parental permission, however the school gave us permission on parent’s behalf and the children spoke to us voluntarily. Due to the nature of questions interrogating about participant’s family migration patterns it was important to be sympathetic when carrying out the interview and to leave questions if participants seemed uncomfortable – early on in the trip we had been told how men leave for the city and often never return although there was no reported cases of this in our research.

Analysis From my collected data I am going to divide my analysis in to my research aims in order to reach a conclusion for my research question. Firstly I wanted to establish the dynamics behind migration in Lake Bogoria. Traditionally it would seem that migration in this area was rural-rural as a result of irrigation issues and families needing to ensure food security. However in recent years there has been a rise in rural-urban migration as people have bigger aspirations in relation to seeking further education and better jobs rather than remaining in the agricultural sector. As Nelson (1992) stated, migration is often temporary and this became apparent in our results as it was reported people often returned home from urban centres. The main reason for this return is due to owning land here, cultural ties with rural areas and a feeling of being in place back where they grew up. Another common theme which emerged from our interviews was the occurrence of children moving to urban areas in search of well paid jobs and sending remittances back to their parents – as described in literature by Hoddinott (1994). In terms of gender it was suggested that usually both men and women may go in search of higher education in the cities, however women are generally expected to return to their home area and continue with agricultural work whereas the men remain in the cities to earn the money. This highlights the cyclical motion of migration described by Bigsten (1996).
My next aim was to examine the perceptions held by the adult participants of both rural and urban areas. The general perception of urban areas is that they hold a wealth of job opportunities, are areas of advanced technology and strong infrastructure. These perceptions are often drawn from return migrants re-telling their stories and experiences of the city, therefore are fairly accountable. However, participants were aware of the downsides of urban areas and were not drawn in to viewing cities through rose tinted glasses; high crime rates as well as lots of competition for jobs can result in migrants from rural areas ending up homeless and vulnerable. It is also perceived that alongside well paid jobs comes higher living costs so in some ways you are no better off than living in a rural area. A common perception which many participants said was of importance to them was the chance living in the city would give them to meet new people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, as well as access to learning new languages. Rural areas are perceived as peaceful and a place where local cultures and traditions can be maintained. Other positive perceptions included low living costs pulling people to remain here, along with the opportunity to produce their own food and embrace the tradition of agriculture as a family orientated process. On the other hand, rural areas are perceived as often having poor infrastructure and poorly developed technology as well as raised concerns over access to clean water in some parts. My third aim was to examine the perceptions held by the children participants used in my research. All the children we spoke to had aspirations of seeking further education in an urban area which highlights the change in migration dynamics. It was surprising none wish to stay with their families and do agriculture, however a couple of girls mentioned that they would return to their rural homes after university. Representations of rural dwellers from the city are that they are uneducated and unemployable, meaning that for these children, to live in a rural area is perceived as shameful. The drawing exercise proved to be very interesting and produced some good results. All the children drew large homes with fields and crops, however when asked to state the location they all chose cities- namely Nairobi and Mombasa. This highlights that children want the best of both urban and rural areas and take their positive perceptions of each area to create their ideal future.

Conclusion Finally I wished to link my findings to the context of core-periphery in order to draw an answer and conclusion to my research question. Clearly the rural areas act as the periphery in this instance, and the urban areas which participants wish to seek opportunities in are the core. Both adult and child participants had clear positive and negative perceptions of each area and were able to draw firm conclusions of where they wished to spend their futures thanks to these perceptions. In an ideal world, participants want to experience both the core and periphery in order to get a well-rounded life with both the opportunities and advanced development of the core, but also the more relaxed lifestyle in the periphery where they can maintain cultural traditions. The perception of the periphery as being behind and uneducated means that there is a pull factor for people to migrate back to rural areas after working in the city. For example, female return migrants wish to pass on the knowledge they have acquired in the city in order to empower marginalised women and teach them that they can do anything if they put their minds to it. It would seem that as suggested by (Ravenstein 1885, Todaro 1969), people do migrate in order to better themselves, but have the benefit of their whole family in mind; original rural-urban migrants appear to want their children to grow up in the periphery so they have a sense of place here, and also are away from the high crime rates and immoral activity of the core.

Agesa, R U. & Kim, S. (2001) ‘Rural to Urban Migration as a Household Decision: Evidence from Kenya’. Review of Development Economics. Vol 5, issue 1, pp 60-75
Aromolaran, A K. (2013) ‘Assessment of Benefits Associated with Rural-Urban Migration among Non-Migrants in Odeda Area, Ogun State, Nigeria’. International Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences and Technology. Vol 14, issue 2, pp 31-38
Braunvan, J. (2004) ‘Towards a renewed focus on rural development. Agriculture and Rural Development. Vol 11, issue 2, pp 4-6
Bigsten, A. (1996) ‘The Circular Migration of Smallholders in Kenya’. Journal of African Economies. Vol 5, issue 1, pp 1-20
Chant, S. (1998) ‘Households, gender and rural-urban migration: reflections on linkages and considerations for policy’. Environment and Urbanisation. Vol 10, issue 1, pp 5-22
Connell, J. Dagsputa, B. Laishley, R. & Lipton, M. (1976) Migration from Rural Areas: The Evidence from Village Studies. Oxford University Press, Delhi
Darbyshire, P. MacDougal, C. & Schiller, W. (2005) ‘Multiple methods in qualitative research with children: more insight or just more?’ Qualitative Research, Vol 5, pp 417 -428
Flint, C. & Taylor, P. (2007) Political Geography: World-economy, nation-state and locality. London, Pearson
Glassman, J. (2009) Core-periphery model, in The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th Edition eds D. Gregory, R. Johnston, G. Pratt, M. Watts, & S. Whatmore, 115-116. Malden, MA: Wiley- Blackwell
Greig, A. & Taylor, J. (1999) Doing Research with Children. London, Sage Publications
Hoddinott, J. (1994) ‘A Model of Migration and Remittances Applied to Western Kenya’. Oxford Economic Papers, Vol 46, pp 459-476
James, A. (1995) ‘Methodologies of competence for a competent methodology’ paper delivered at conference on Children and Social Competence, University of Surrey, 5-7th July 1995
Khazan, O. (2013) ‘Rural Kenyas are bringing their cows with them to cities. What could go wrong?’ The Atlantic [online] Available at <> [accessed 5th May 2014]
Nelson, N (1992). ‘The women who have left and those who have stayed behind: rural-urban migration in central and western Kenya’, in Chant, S (eds) Gender and Migration in Developing Countries. Belhaven Press, London.
Patton, M. (1980) Qualitative Evaluation Methods. London, Sage
Potts (2013) Rural-Urban and Urban-Rural Migration Flows as Indicators of Economic Opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Migrating out of Poverty [pdf][online] Available at< [Accessed 5th May 2014]
Ravenstein, E G. (1885) ‘The Laws of Migration’. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol 48, pp 162-227
Terlouw, C P. (1992) The Regional Geography of the World-System. Utrecht, Nederlandse Geografische Studies
Todaro, M. (1969) ’A Model of Labour Migration and Urban Unemployment in LDCs’. American Economic Review, Vol 59, pp 138-148
Wright, C. (1995) ‘Gender awareness in migration theory: synthesizing actor and structure in Southern Africa. Development and Change. Vol 26, issue 4, pp 771-792

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