Supporting the social mobility of trapped populations in very poor urban areas

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies

Abstract

Urbanisation is the defining feature of global population distribution. Until at least 2050, city growth will be concentrated in developing countries and most of that growth will come from migration from rural areas. Many poor, rural migrants will end up in the poorest neighbourhoods of these cities. These population movements have always been important pathways into poverty, but this is exacerbated by the increasingly rapid pace of urbanisation and by important new contexts such as the vulnerability of urban centres to climate change. A recent UK Government Office of Science report highlighted the potential for migrants to be 'trapped' in these impoverished environments since their extreme poverty means that they unable to return to the areas they have come from or move elsewhere in the city. In contrast, other recent research suggests that urban areas provide valuable opportunities for migrants which are typically preferable to the rural poverty many of them have left behind.

This project investigates when migration from rural to urban areas becomes a pathway into poverty and how policy can support rural-urban migrants to access urban opportunities and escape from poverty. There are three central questions. First, research considers under what circumstances rural-urban migration presents an opportunity for poor people and what factors contribute to them becoming 'trapped'. Second, the project investigates the relationship between physical and socio-economic mobility. This will consider both mobility within the city and ongoing connections with migrants' rural households. It focuses particularly on migrants' own perspectives of what they consider to be successful integration in the city. Finally, the project assesses the attitudes of city government and other significant actors, such as community organisations, police, NGOs and international organisations. This will focus on ways in which these institutions facilitate or prevent new migrants integrating into city life.

In order to respond to these three questions, the project draws on a series of innovative methods to capture migrants' own attitudes to their migration, combining in-depth, individual interviews and broad surveys. The limited recent research on these issues has tended to focus on a single urban area at a single time period. This project contributes to this recent research with a comparative, longitudinal approach. The project investigates the success of migrants to four cities in four different countries: Harare (Zimbabwe), Hargeisa (Somaliland), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Colombo (Sri Lanka) at two time points one year apart, in addition to interviews during the course of the year. These four cities allow investigation of the same processes in very different contexts, yet there are sufficient similarities to make comparison worthwhile. All four cities face significant ongoing rural-urban migration, both political conflict and climate change have been important factors encouraging this migration and all four face rapid urban development as a result.

This project is conducted in close collaboration with research centres in all four cities. It has also developed in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) associated with the Migrants on the Margins research programme. The RGS-IBG will provide additional support for the programme through educational outreach and communications expertise. The project will have three main impacts. First, it will generate new knowledge about how rural-urban migration can help to provide a route out of poverty. Second, it will communicate the results of this research to a variety of audiences who will be able to use it to inform new policy interventions. Finally, it will help to build capacity to conduct similar research in the future with international collaborators and community organisations in the research neighbourhoods.

Planned Impact

There are five key target groups of beneficiaries of this research. Each will require different strategies to ensure that they are able to fully benefit from the research.
1. Academic audiences. Although beneficiaries extend far beyond this group, they are important, not only as potentially interested individuals, but as guarantors of the quality of the research. This guarantee forms the basis on which all other potential beneficiaries value the research. Strategies for communicating with this group involve presentations at academic conferences and publication in high quality peer reviewed journals. All publications will be open access.
2. International research collaborators and target research groups. International collaborators will have the opportunity to attend the initial training programme, focusing on Q methodology, survey methods and (if appropriate) agent based modelling. The initial training course will be followed up during visits of Smith and the relevant CoI. There may also be capacity building opportunities with target research groups in the selected neighbourhoods. At the very least, research results will be communicated to them through regular meetings with researchers and a final research briefing translated into a language they can understand. This will provide the community with access to the research data which may be useful in advocacy.
3. National and city level stakeholders. Research collaborators in each city have considerable experience engaging with relevant actors, including community groups, local/city government, police, religious organisations, civil society and local representations of international NGOs and IOs. Engagement with this group will help develop contacts for governance interviews and may provide an opportunity to advocate for urban policy approaches that are more inclusive of rural-urban migrants. In each city a stakeholder group will be formed at the beginning of the project to consult on specific research strategy. These groups will meet three times during the project, at key stages. They will have a genuine opportunity to influence the research process and they will have results communicated directly to them. This should ensure a higher level of interest and engagement from this group.
4. International level policy makers and advocacy groups. At an international level, representatives of specialised UN organisations, such as Habitat or UNDP or International NGOs such as Water Aid will be invited to form an international advisory group that will meet virtually at key stages of the research in a similar way to stakeholder groups held in each city. Regular, short web briefings written at different stages of the research, posted on the project website and highlighted through social media will provide an effective way of ensuring this group get access to the research materials and results. will Representatives of the project will also attend the Habitat III conference in October 2016 in Quito to communicate with potential beneficiaries at the beginning of the project. The final research meeting in Johannesburg will include a public dissemination event to which relevant international policy makers will be invited (but not funded) to attend.
5. Finally, the broadest and least defined group is made up of students at a variety of levels and the general public, in the countries where research will be carried out and in the UK. This is the specific area of expertise of the RGS-IBG who will provide the necessary support to develop educational resources targeted at appropriate school stages. Broader engagement with the general public may be supported through any of the techniques mentioned above but the RGS-IBG media strategist will assist with media communications with the aim of communicating research to a very wide audience through newspapers, radio or TV.
 
Title Migrants on the Margins 
Description The exhibition consisted of photographs and comics arising from the research 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact We have continuing interest from media and from schools about our research, including requests for the book of comics 
URL https://ahrc.ukri.org/newsevents/events/calendar/the-unknown-city/
 
Description The project has now come to an end, including completion of both surveys. The results clearly confirm the existence of a significant section of people who we have defined as 'trapped', that is those people who express a clear preference to leave where they are living but report that they are unable to due to various resource constraints. This group of people associate spatial mobility very strongly with social mobility (improvement in their own lives). Others, sometimes in the same neighbourhoods, express much greater faith in improvements in those neighbourhoods - ie. they believe that social mobility is possible without spatial mobility. However, this varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and some places are associated only with those who do not want to live there. This is significantly a result of government policy and it is possible to transform these more hopeless places with clear urban planning. On an individual basis, those who have moved previously are more likely to consider that further movement will solve their problems.
Exploitation Route Our findings have now been presented to key stakeholder groups in all four cities, including residents of the communities investigated. We have produced briefing summaries of the research for policy departments of each city and we remain in contact with them for follow up work. We have also held two exhibitions in London and other exhibitions in Colombo, Hargeisa and Dhaka.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.rgs.org/OurWork/Field+Research+Programmes/Field+Research+Programme.htm
 
Description We have full results from both surveys. These concern findings from DAC countries Bangladesh, Somaliland, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Our findings related primarily to SDG11 ("sustainable cities and communities"). These findings have now been presented at stakeholder meetings in all four countries. In Hargeisa, we met with the Minister of Planning and he has made visits to two of the sites we are working in. Teams in the other three cities have reported very positive engagement during stakeholder meetings. In Dhaka we organised a two day event with policy makers from the city.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Forced Displacement (Global Challenges Research Fund)
Amount £299,999 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/P005128/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 10/2018
 
Description International Development Challenge Fund
Amount £16,503 (GBP)
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 09/2019
 
Description Colombo Unknown City meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 22 people from local government, planning authorities, local NGOs and residents associations attended a meeting to discuss the project. Note, this is closely linked to the related 'Trapped Populations' project (ES/N01474X/1) since the audiences overlap but the 'Unknown City' project supports greater engagement with residents associations in these meetings. This meeting was distinct from the earlier one organised in relation to the Trapped Populations project, though results of that project were also discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Colombo stakeholder meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The stakeholder meeting in Colombo presented the research to a group of specially invited people with an interest in the project. The meeting lasted for two hours and led to interested discussion and requests for further information on the project as results materialised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Dhaka Unknown City meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 22 people from local government, planning authorities, local NGOs and residents associations attended a meeting to discuss the project. Note, this is closely linked to the related 'Trapped Populations' project (ES/N01474X/1) since the audiences overlap but the 'Unknown City' project supports greater engagement with residents associations in these meetings. This meeting was distinct from the earlier one organised in relation to the Trapped Populations project, though results of that project were also discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Harare stakeholder meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The stakeholder meeting in Harare presented the research to a group of specially invited people with an interest in the project. The meeting lasted for two hours and led to interested discussion and requests for further information on the project as results materialised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Harare unknown city meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 26 people from local government, planning authorities, local NGOs and residents associations attended a meeting to discuss the project. Note, this is closely linked to the related 'Trapped Populations' project (ES/N01474X/1) since the audiences overlap but the 'Unknown City' project supports greater engagement with residents associations in these meetings. This meeting was distinct from the earlier one organised in relation to the Trapped Populations project, though results of that project were also discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hargeisa Unknown City meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 19 people from local government, planning authorities, local NGOs and residents associations attended a meeting to discuss the project. Note, this is closely linked to the related 'Trapped Populations' project (ES/N01474X/1) since the audiences overlap but the 'Unknown City' project supports greater engagement with residents associations in these meetings. This meeting was distinct from the earlier one organised in relation to the Trapped Populations project, though results of that project were also discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hargeisa public présentation seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A general presentation of all results on the project so far at the Hargeisa cultural centre to a large and engaged audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Hargeisa stakeholder meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The stakeholder meeting in Hargeisa presented the research to a group of specially invited people with an interest in the project. The meeting lasted for two hours and led to interested discussion and requests for further information on the project as results materialised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Migrants on the Margins lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In September 2018 Michael Collyer and Laura Hammond were invited to give the Monday night lecture at the Royal Geographical Society. This is the main weekly event in the RGS calendar and attracts a live audience in excess of 700 people, with several thousand more viewing it live streamed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.rgs.org/in-the-field/field-research-programme/
 
Description Panel at Hargeysa International Book Fair 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We were invited to organise a panel on the Hargeisa element of the research, and of the research in general at the Hargeysa International Book Fair in Hargeysa in July 2019. Laura Hammond and Michael Collyer travelled to Hargeysa to participate. The presentation was attended by a number of participants in our study and the Deputy Planning Minister agreed to appear on our panel to discuss our research findings. The deputy minister reported that our research had influenced his thinking about response to migration to Hargeisa and policy responses that need to be made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.horndiplomat.com/2019/07/20/somaliland-12th-edition-of-hargeisa-international-book-fair-...
 
Description RGS Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Michael Collyer gave the Monday night lecture at the Royal Geographical society entitled 'Poor cities: migration hotspots' this was to present the research project to the society's members and outline the key questions that would be asked. The Monday night lectures are attended by a large audience, in this case the 700 seat lecture theatre was completely full, and streamed online around the world. This resulted in substantial media requests about the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://migrantsonthemargins.tumblr.com/
 
Description Stakeholder meeting (Colombo) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Regular meeting of important stakeholders in the project to update them on study progress.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Stakeholder meeting (Dhaka) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Regular meeting with important stakeholders involved in the project at the city-wide level in Dhaka.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stakeholder meeting (Harare) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 35 local representatives attended presentation of research progress.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Stakeholder meeting (Hargeisa) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An official meeting of policy makers and other interested organisations, occurring regularly to provide research updates.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018