Academic journal article Ahfad Journal

Gender Analysis of the Impacts of Displacement on Western Sudanese Migrants in Khartoum State, Sudan

Academic journal article Ahfad Journal

Gender Analysis of the Impacts of Displacement on Western Sudanese Migrants in Khartoum State, Sudan

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study employed a gender analytical perspective to assess the socioeconomic impacts of displacement on Western Sudanese migrants in Khartoum State. It identified the different causes for migration and assessed the impact of population displacement on agricultural production in the rural areas of origin, and on the socio-economic conditions of the displaced families. Using a participatory approach, the study attempted to gauge the attitude of the displaced towards voluntary return to rural areas, and their perception of the requirements, that if provided would constitute an incentive for return.

A random sample of households in camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) was selected for purposes of the study. Data collection involved use of structured interview schedules for obtaining relevant information.

Data analysis revealed that the decision to migrate to Khartoum state was collective. Whole families were forced to leave their areas of origin because of the drought conditions which affected their rural areas of origin since the mid 1980s, and because of tribal conflicts over use of natural resources which later culminated into civil war. These forced migrants were mainly farmers and agro-pastoralists. Most of them have abandoned cultivation of their farmland, but some (mainly men) return seasonally to cultivate their land with the help of the remaining relatives or sharecroppers.. Most of the female heads of the displaced households were found to be landless.

The living conditions of the displaced families in the camps were found not to be better than the living conditions of the families before migration. Rather, the living expenses for the migrants in their urban destination areas have jumped up considerably relative to those in the rural areas of origin. Gender analysis revealed that the migrants' tribal norm of placing the responsibility for household food security on women has persisted in the migrant's urban displacement areas, and that women are bearing the bulk of life stresses in the IDPs' camps.

Most of the interviewed IDPs have not benefited from the available education and health services; mainly because of the involved expenses. Young family members (especially those belonging to female-headed households) are forced not to go to school or to drop out in order to engage in trivial income-generating activities to supplement household incomes.

Despite their poverty, most of the Western Sudanese migrant heads of households in the sample (especially women) expressed a desire for permanent residence in Khartoum state. A minority (mainly men) expressed a willingness to return in case of provision of incentives by the government, including establishment of peace and security, provision of subsidized health, education and water supply services, conservation of natural resources, and facilitation of access to financial capital for sustaining rural development activities.

Introduction

In the past few decades environmental degradation has become a serious threat to rural livelihoods in Sudan, particularly in the dry lands which continued to be severely affected by drought since the mid 1980s. The continued state of rural underdevelopment, coupled with the onset of civil strife, has exacerbated the situation and lead to massive forced migration from rural to urban areas (mainly to Khartoum State). Most of those who were affected by this type of migration (especially women) were food producers before the crisis. In their rural areas of origin, the migrant women used to produce food crops around their houses in Jubraka plots (kitchen gardens), to assist the male family members in field crop production, and to raise small animals mainly for subsistence purposes.

Migration from the rural areas of Western Sudan removed the displaced persons from agricultural development activities and forced them to engage in marginal income generating activities, as most of them were lacking in urban employment skills. …

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