Chinese migrant workers in Beijing.
Photo: E. Schmidt-Kallert
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An increasing number of migrants in the Global South live in so-called “multi-locational household arrangements”. They combine the opportunities offered by two places, often a rural and an urban one. Their livelihood practices can have positive effects on the villages of origin.

There was a time when regional planners and development practitioners believed that rural development projects would eventually reduce or even reverse the exodus of people from the rural areas. This has not happened. Ex-post evaluations have shown that although the most successful rural development projects have led to increased income levels and improved livelihoods, out-migration to urban areas continues. Paradoxically, sometimes, interventions which were part of the rural development package, have had the effect of encouraging the more active people to leave their home area.

In recent years, many international organisations have adopted a more positive attitude towards migration. A case in point is the World Migration Report 2015 published by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which states in its introductory chapter: “Moving to cities can greatly enhance people’s well-being. It offers an escape from the impact of the hazards of a fragile rural livelihood, and an access to diverse employment opportunities and better health and education, all of which have the potential to reduce the poverty of the people moving as well as those who stay behind.” Especially in Africa, rural-urban migration continues at an unprecedented pace, but there is also evidence of rural out-migration in many Asian countries.

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