Copyright © 2009 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Five Winter 2008-Spring 2009 Numbers 3-4.
THEME: GLOBAL LABOR MIGRATION AND EMERGING TRENDS IN DEVELOPMENT FINANCING:
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPCT OF MIGRANT (WORKER) REMITTANCES
IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
THE DEVELOPMENT ROLE OF REMITTANCES IN THE URBANIZATION PROCESS IN SOUTHERN
Coordinator, Program in Urban Food Security
University of Cape Town
and Research Associate, Southern African Research Center
Queen’s University, Canada
Honorary Research Associate
University of Cape Town,
Published Online: March 15, 2017
Internal and cross-border migration is increasing in Southern Africa, accompanied by sustained urbanization within a generalized context of limited economic growth. Yet despite high rates of unemployment, rural-urban and cross-border migration persists, as does urbanization. To better understand the dynamics between migration, urbanization and poverty, and to quantify the role of remittances in household economies, the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) undertook the Migration and Poverty Survey of 9032 households and about 50,000 individuals in seven countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe). The dataset is nationally representative including rural and urban households and both internal and cross-border migrants. The findings demonstrate that remittances (formal and informal) are found to be central to the ability of geographically stretched households to continue to survive the economic hardship associated with urban growth in the major cities of Southern Africa; they also demonstrate the vital role of remittances in poverty alleviation for rural households. In relation to household poverty, it is significant that remittances are used primarily for food as a basic need and not for income-generating investments. This study therefore contributes to the debate regarding the economic role of domestic and cross-border remittances for poor households in the urbanization process in Southern Africa.