Since February 2019, the OSCE Academy is a part of the project AGRUMIG (“Leaving something behind” – Migration governance and agricultural and rural change in “home” communities: Comparative experience from Europe, Asia, and Africa), funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020. There are country teams in the project. Kyrgyzstan’s team includes University of Central Asia (UCA) and Polis Asia Center; OSCE Academy is a key PolicyDialogue Partner. The project is coordinated by School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
AGRUMIG proposes an integrated approach to migration governance to address the two way relationship between labour mobilility and changes in agriculture and the rural sector. Migration creates challenges for rural ‘sending’ communities in low and middle income countries, yet it can also be transformative. AGRUMIG aims to engage in a comparative analysis of seven countries to analyze the economic, institutional, cultural and agro-ecological factors which shape these relationships. It will go on to identify the range of governance interventions which can harness migration to stimulate sustainable and gender equitable growth in agriculture and reduce the distress associated with migration. The project will firstly use a survey and participatory tools to explore the drivers of migration and the impacts on the agricultural/rural sector. A Qualitative Comparative Analysis will identify contexts through which unique relationships are realized. It will secondly engage with the policies and practices of diverse governance actors through dialogue, literature reviews and interviews to understand how they mediate the migration-agrarian/rural change interface. It will thirdly, engage in an iterative process of dialogue with stakeholders to identify frameworks for integrated migration governance which harness the positive impacts. A key contribution to the work programme is the identification of strategies to promote safe and regular migration through supporting change in sending regions. AGRUMIG will outline longer term evidence based governance solutions, supported by comparative analysis and tangible indicators, which are sensitive to the role of migration in larger livelihood systems as well as the contexts through which favorable impacts can be captured. It will analyze existing governance regimes to build upon, including labor treaties or EU partnership agreements, national migration or agrarian policies, overseas aid, or grassroots initiatives by diasporas or return.
A key contribution of the project is the identification of strategies that promote safer and more regular migration through supporting change in sending regions – establishing, in effect, a “positive migration” philosophy. AGRUMIG will outline longer term and more evidence-based governance solutions, supported by comparative analysis and tangible indicators that are sensitive to the position and role of migration within larger agro-livelihood systems. AGRUMIG will also analyze existing contexts and governance regimes on which future responses will need to build, including labor treaties and/or EU partnership agreements, national migration and/or agrarian policies, overseas aid policies and directions as well as initiatives taken at a more grassroots level by diasporas and/or returnees themselves.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Early Experience of Migration Challenges under the COVID19 Pandemic (Download)
The global migration context has changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020. Both within and between countries there has been a substantial curtailment in movement. As a result of multiple lockdowns, economic activity has severely declined and labour markets have ground to a halt. In mid 2020, the spectre of mass unemployment in industrialised economies loomed on the horizon. For migrant hosting and origin countries – some are substantially part of both – this poses a set of complex development challenges.
Some speak of a ‘new normal’ emerging, perhaps with less movement, more use of technology and, overall, a reduction in the global transport system that we have become accustomed to using. However, this suggests that there is suppressed demand to move for work elsewhere as well as a change in the nature of labour markets, particularly those that seek to make profits from large wage differentials within and between countries. There is no apparent evidence that this is yet the case; and an eagerness to work abroad, or in cities, remains the norm amongst the burgeoning youth in many low- and middle- income economies.
The wider context of economic shock and changes to social systems, including the widely-reported mass movements of people within – and to some extent between – countries seems to herald a different global migration order. But it is worth asking whether this is really going to be the case, as many of the country examples in this short report make plain (note: this report was compiled from information available at an early stage in the pandemic). Whilst the coupling of health risks with migrant movement may establish new levels of control and scrutiny, and to some degree attach new stigmas to migration in some contexts, the economic imperative of labour demand and supply at an international level means challenges will probably be overcome.
Date: 26 November 2019
The Main Page of the AGRUMIG Project can be accessed here.