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Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 3a
Child Migration, Rural Poverty and Livelihoods in Burkina Faso

Research undertaken in a small village in SE Burkina Faso in 2001-02 shows that children and youth are integrated in the migration circuits to and from neighbouring countries. They may accompany their parents, stay with kin or travel and live on their own. The movement of children and youth is also two-way. Children migrate out of the village in search of wealth, to flee arranged marriages, to receive education or medical treatment and/or to enhance social capital through fostering arrangements, but they also return for much the same reasons. Indeed, young people’s migration also appears to have become something of a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. Villagers seek to tie their migrants into the social network back home through finding spouses for young migrants, providing younger siblings to help out in their households and often also by requesting migrants’ children as helpers back home.

The proposed research aims at investigating the migration pattern of children and youth from Burkina Faso to Ghana, and between Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana through additional fieldwork in the home community, and by following up identified young migrants in their places of destination. Although the research will focus on child migrants of both genders, examination of girls’ incentives to migrate, or to negotiate their positions as migrants to be able to remain, may add important information to the analysis of how the social organisation of the family, gender and socioeconomic status affect children’s agency.

Key Research Questions

Dot How and why do children migrate?
Dot To what extent and how are decisions to migrate negotiated within the family?
Dot What effect does their mobility have on the livelihoods and vulnerability of their households left behind?
Dot What are the experiences of children who migrate?
Dot To what extent and how do social networks of kin and community act as an insurance to reduce risk for child migrants?
Dot To what extent and how do children keep open the possibility to return and gain access to land and labour through the maintenance of their social capital?
Dot What are the underlying incentives/obligations that drive young people to migrate and parents to send their children to kin either abroad or back in the village?

Looking for Money While Building Skills and Knowledge: Children's Autonomous Migration to Rural Towns and Urban Centres



Key Theme(s)
Gender and Generations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods

Type(s) of Migration
Child Migration

Ghana / Africa


Ann Whitehead

Dorte Thorsen (NAI, Sweden)

Key Activities

1.  Methodological workshop on child migration.
2. 5 months’ fieldwork tracing the movement of migrating children and youth from one village in Burkina Faso - to include in-depth interviews with different family members and, especially, with children and youth both in the village and abroad.
3. Analysis and presentation of findings.

Key Outputs

Report/working papers

Presentation at workshop on intergenerational distribution of costs and benefits of migration in Accra
Policy briefing


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs