Invest in migrants – IWMI tells government

A group photograph of stakeholders at the dialogue session

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has asked Ghana to pay critical attention to the needs of persons migrating from the rural to urban communities, invest in them and utilize their energies for economic expansion.

It says migration presents Ghana a great opportunity to expand its economy and it behooves on the leadership of the nation to provide migrant’s with better conditions to improve their lives and contribute to economic growth.

Dr. Everisto Mapedza, a Senior Researcher, Social and Institutional Scientist at the IWMI said this at a stakeholder-dialogue session organised by the institute in Accra on Friday to explore best ways to address migration challenges in Ghana.

Migration dialogue

The dialogue session which was necessitated by the need to harness opportunities in the trends of migration in Ghana towards attaining Agenda 2030 was attended by international partners, researchers and experts on migration.

The dialogue paved way for stakeholders to discuss the negative and positive aspects of migration with a focus on how to improve the livelihood conditions of migrants.

He observed that rural-urban migration was becoming a key issue in Ghana and beyond and stated that and the dialogue would explore best ways to use available research information on migration to address migration issues for the betterment of migrants.

Economic expansion opportunities

Dr. Mapedza said it was a loss to the economy when able bodied young men and women are not able to contribute meaningfully to key sectors and are left idle due to their geographical locations.

“Ghana has to focus on people who are migrating because they are not contributing anything in terms of productivity, the people are a resource and the nation must find ways to invest in them and make them useful wherever they find themselves,” he said.

The senior researcher said migration was changing and transforming the nature of economies in developing countries, and the government must pay attention to investments needed in rural Ghana to give persons in rural communities who do don’t want to migrate an option to contribute the economy.

Productive population everywhere

“We don’t have to force people to stay in rural areas, but those who want to stay there must be given the opportunity and the mechanism under which they can contribute to development in their own way,” he added.

He encouraged that nation to add value to its agricultural produce to create job opportunities for the youth.

Impact of migration trends in Ghana

Director, Center for Migration Studies, University of Ghana, Professor Joseph Teye, also observed that rural-urban migrations were high in Ghana due to vibrations in resources as some areas were more developed than others.

He said poor transportation and the lack of good market for farm produce has led to poverty which leave rural folks with no options than to migrate to urban centers in search of better living conditions.

Social drives such as education, marriages and demographic drivers such high fertility rates in rural areas, he added, had both negative and positive impacts on the economy.

“Urban poverty is on the increase but rural urban migration is contributing to poverty reduction in Ghana while consequently reducing the labour force to work on farms, this poses a treat to our food security as a people,” he mentioned.

Migrants could be useful

Dr. Alan Nicol, Strategic Program Leader, Promoting Sustainable Growth at the IWMI said migration presents social transformation in Ghana, but the nation needs to understand the challenges and opportunities migration has on migrants in and around Ghana.

He said although migration puts pressure on urban recourses, they present opportunities for great access to education.

He described migrants as positive solutions to challenges in countries and there was a need for right policies to enable government utilize their labor force.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey