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Tanzania

Secondary towns for migration and jobs: The first move is different

Luc Christiaensen's picture
The key to breaking the vicious circle is the first move. This is the first, often bold step into the unknown. It comes with the realization that things need to be shaken up to overturn the seemingly inalterable conditions that keep people confined to the village. (Photo: Hendri Lombard / World Bank)


For a young person who has spent his or her whole life living in a village in rural Africa, moving out is often desirable in theory, but daunting in practice. From the life histories of migrants in Tanzania it becomes clear that a number of important resources are needed, which are typically scarce in supply, particularly within the village. These include, among others, cash to pay the bus fare and a familiar face at destination, professional skills to find meaningful employment, and the life skills to operate in the anonymous, cash-based urban environment. And just because of the particular challenge of getting these in the village, the first move becomes so special.

Secondary towns for migration and jobs: What makes a town a town and why it matters

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Asking how migrants themselves see the difference may further help understand why they often move to towns, while the income levels and amenities are higher in the cities. (Photo: Hendri Lombard / World Bank)


In our previous post, we explored how migration from rural to urban areas is not a one-step move, but rather a dynamic lifelong process that expands and modifies migrants’ action space and opportunities to improve their life conditions, and how the attraction of secondary towns could be partly understood within this framework because of their role as “action space” enhancers.

Yet, defining precisely what constitutes a town or a city is tricky, to the point that Wittgenstein found it even a useful analogy with which to demonstrate definitional conundrums more broadly. “And how many houses or streets does it take for a town to be a town?”, he rhetorically asks his readers, while discussing at what point a language should be considered complete in his Philosophical Investigations.

At the same time, the distinction between towns and cities is intuitively unambiguous to most non-experts. Asking how migrants themselves see the difference may further help understand why they often move to towns, while the income levels and amenities are higher in the cities. According to the conversations we had with 75 migrants from rural Kagera, Tanzania, three dimensions stand out: vibrancy, monetization and anonymity.

Secondary towns for migration and jobs: Creating the action space

Luc Christiaensen's picture
These are some of the insights emerging from the in-depth conversations with 75 migrants from rural Kagera, Tanzania which are recounted here in a 3-blog series. This first blog focuses on the importance of “Making action space”. (Photo: Hendri Lombard / World Bank)


Raymond is a young boy living in rural Kagera, Tanzania. He has always dreamed of moving to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s prime city, 1,650 km away and currently with a population of 4.5 million. Getting there, for someone with his background and skills, was next to impossible. But, having familiarized himself with the wheeling and dealing of urban life through his moves through several secondary towns in Tanzania, he is getting closer. Over the past few years, he moved 8 times, expanding and contracting his action space with each move.

The story of Raymond challenges the traditional vision of rural to urban migration as a one-step process. It further draws attention to the opportunity that secondary towns can add for improving people’s welfare through migration. These are some of the insights emerging from the in-depth conversations with 75 migrants from rural Kagera, Tanzania which are recounted here in a 3-blog series. This first blog focuses on the importance of “Making action space”.

Can agriculture create job opportunities for youth?

Luc Christiaensen's picture

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Many good job opportunities on and off the farm remain in agriculture. Can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth? 


Technology and the internet are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about the future of work for young people; not agriculture or farming. This makes historic sense, as agriculture sheds labor when countries develop. And the traditional ways of producing food do not look particularly sexy. Yet, technology and the internet are also opening up opportunities for agriculture, and urbanization and changing diets are calling for new ways to process, market and consume our foods. So, can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth?

Moving up the garment industry’s global value chain

Paul Lister's picture

Many African countries are striving to move up the global value chain in the footsteps of countries like China and (more recently) Bangladesh. We asked Paul Lister – Director of Legal Services and Company Secretary, Associated British Foods (ABF) – how ABF and its subsidiaries determine where it will source goods. He says that in the end, efficiency is key.

Textiles in Bongooo Bazaar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Flickr @ dnevill (Dan Nevill)

Rethinking Social Protection and Labor in Tanzania

Amadeus Kamagenge's picture

The Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) is a critical player in Tanzania's effort to break the intergeneration cycle of poverty — a government funding facility that allows local and village governments to respond to community demands for poverty reduction interventions. Launched in 2000, TASAF recently embarked on a new phase that focuses on an integrated approach to social protection and labor. We spoke with Amadeus Kamagenge, TASAF's Head of Systems, Training, Research, and Participation, who stresses the need for institutional capacity, more accountability and transparency, and good data.