UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub


ESRC as part of UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund


£19,863,201 FEC

Project Team

Professor Heaven Crawley, Coventry University, UK Director, Professor Joseph Teye, University of Ghana, Co-Director, Professor Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow, Co-Director, Professor Louis Herns Marcelin, Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development and Development, Co-Director, Dr Tanja Bastia, University of Manchester, Co-Investigator, Dr Nicola Piper, Queen Mary University London, Co-Investigator, Dr Kavita Batta, Queen Mary University London, Co-Investigator, Dr Nassim Majidi, Samuel Hall, Co-Investigator, Professor Laura Hammond, SOAS, Co-Investigator, Dr Oliver Bakewell, University of Manchester, Co-Investigator, Dr Jessica Hagen-Zanker, ODI, Co-Investigator, Dr Katharine Jones, Coventry University, Co-Investigator, Dr Stephen Gelb, ODI, Co-Investigator, Dr G. 'Hari' Harindranath, Royal Holloway, Co-Investigator, Professor Tim Unwin, Royal Holloway, Co-Investigator, Professor Cathy Zimmerman, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Co-Investigator, Dr Kando Amedee Soumahoro, Institute for Governance, Development and Prospects, Co-Investigator, Dr Jixia Lu, China Agricultural University, Co-Investigator, Dr Dereje Feyissa Dori, Peace and Development Centre, Co-Investigator, Dr Anita Ghimire, Nepal Institute for Social and Environmental Research, Co-Investigator, Dr Seng-Guan Yeoh, Monash University Malaysia, Co-Investigator, Dr Bonayi Hubert Dabire, Higher Institute of Population Sciences, Co-Investigator, Dr Faisal Garba, University of Cape Town, Co-Investigator, Professor Mariama Awumbila, University of Ghana, Co-Investigator, Dr Jailson de Souza e Silva, Instituto Maria e João Aleixo, Co-Investigator, Eliana Souza Silva, Instituto Maria e João Aleixo, Co-Investigator

Project Partners

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO)
  • International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Guman Rights (OHCHR)
  • Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)
  • PositiveNegatives
  • @iLabAfrica
  • Migrant Worker Justice Initiative
  • Namati

Project Overview

Migration between the countries of the Global South, otherwise known as South-South migration, accounts for nearly half of all international migration, nearly 70% in some places. The potential of South-South migration to contribute to development and delivery of the SDGs is widely acknowledged but remains unrealised, largely due to existing inequalities at the global, national and local levels which determine who is (and is not) able to migrate, where to, and under which terms and conditions. These multidimensional inequalities are associated with a lack of rights for migrants and their families; difficult, expensive and sometimes dangerous journeys; and limited opportunities to access services and protection, which can, in turn, exacerbate inequalities.

The Hub’s overarching vision is to:

  • Deepen academic and policy understandings of the relationships between South-South migration, inequality and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Explore the impact and effectiveness of interventions to reduce inequalities associated with South-South migration;
  • Build interdisciplinary migration research capacity in the Global South by providing extended opportunities for knowledge exchange and training;
  • Bring this knowledge and expertise into contact with local, national and international organisations; and
  • Influence national and international policy processes.

In order to do this the Hub creates a network of research and delivery partners from 12 ODA-recipient countries that constitute six South-South migration 'corridors' between which there are significant flows of people, skills, resources and knowledge: Burkina Faso-Côte d’Ivoire, China-Ghana, Egypt-Jordan, Ethiopia-South Africa, Haiti-Brazil, and Nepal-Malaysia. Each has markedly different inequality patterns and forms, a range of development challenges and diverse policy approaches enabling a rich comparative analysis of the complex and multifaceted relationships between South-South migration, inequality and development in origin and destination countries. The Hub explores horizontal and vertical inequalities from an intersectional perspective, examining how and why multidimensional inequalities create and constrain the opportunities and benefits of South-South migration.

  • Project Objectives

    The UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub addresses the complex and currently intractable problem of how to ensure that South-South migration reduces inequalities and contributes to delivery of the SDGs, especially SDGs 1, 5, 8 and 10. The Hub's overarching objective is to establish an interdisciplinary, evidence-based understanding of the multidimensional relationships between South-South migration, inequality and development. This will ensure that policy makers, international organisations, donors and local communities are able to implement policies which harness the development potential associated with SSM for individuals, households and countries in the Global South. To this end, the Hub will:

    • Deepen understanding of the dynamic, transnational interplay between SSM, inequality and development by bringing together, for the first time, an interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral team of researchers from 12 ODA-recipient countries constituting six SSM 'corridors' within which there are significant two-way movements of people, goods, money, knowledge and skills as well as social and cultural ideas and relationships;
    • Examine the ways and contexts within which multidimensional inequalities both create and constrain the opportunities and benefits of South-South migration, exploring both horizontal (gender, age) and vertical (income) inequalities from an intersectional perspective, drawing in other relevant axes of inequality (including religion, ethnicity, language);
    • Analyse how configurations of policies (migration, development, basic services, social protection) and other factors (labour markets, financial institutions, legal frameworks, national/natural disasters, conflict) intersect with inequalities to migration processes and outcomes for different groups in both origin and destination countries;
    • Analyse the effectiveness of interventions and policies designed to tackle inequalities associated with migration including: political mobilisation and transnational solidarity building; access to legal remedies to deliver access to rights for those who move; and the use of ICT to facilitate access to information and services. The Hub will identify interventions which offer the most potential for removing or reducing migration-related inequalities and the socio-economic, political and policy contexts within which such interventions can be replicated and/or amplified;
    • Develop informed and targeted recommendations for policy makers, donors and practitioners which directly contribute to more effective delivery of the SDGs. In particular, the Hub will bolster the efforts of its project partners (IOM, ILO, OHCHR, OECD, UNDP and UNRISD) and networks such as the Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) to ensure migration is embedded into development policies and that development goals are mainstreamed into delivery of the Global Compacts on Migration (GCM) and Refugees (GCR);
    • Map, record and draw attention to the experiences of those who move (including creative and affective responses to migration), providing evidence to support a human rights-based approach, rebalancing debates driven by the Global North and/or 'top down' perspectives, generating new conceptual understandings and opening up political space(s) for a greater range of policy responses; and
    • Contribute to capacity and capability strengthening of research institutions in the Global South by working across, rather than just within, the countries that make up the migration corridors and connecting these teams with leading migration scholars, development policy analysts and communicators. The Hub will draw in additional resources to ensure its sustainability within the corridors, and potentially beyond.
  • Impacts

    The Hub will contribute to efforts to ensure that individuals, households, communities and countries in the Global South benefit fully and equitably from South-South migration and that its benefits are properly harnessed to support delivery of the SDGs. The Hub's impact work in countries at both ends of the corridors focuses on three main policy areas: reducing income inequalities caused or exacerbated by South-South migration; closing gaps in education, health and other outcomes for migrants and their families; and tackling migration-related prejudice, discrimination and exclusion.

    Policies to reduce income inequalities

    Inequality, particularly income inequality, plays a key role in determining human well-being, intersecting with horizontal inequalities such as gender and age in specific ways in different geographical contexts. The Hub will generate evidence to support policies and approaches to ensure that SSM reduces these inequalities, for example by:

    • Providing capital and other livelihood opportunities for those who do not want to migrate;
    • Ensuring equal access to a range of (legal) migration opportunities;
    • Regulating recruitment processes to ensure that migrant labour contracts are fair, accommodation is affordable, and abuses are minimised;
    • Reducing the costs of migration, in particular recruitment fees and remittance transfers; and
    • Supporting hometown, religious, community and wider diaspora associations which channel remittances and knowledge to community-level investments and initiatives.
    Closing gaps in education, health and other outcomes

    Delivery of the SDGs and economic growth depend on improved outcomes in education and health. Migrants and their families often experience difficulties in securing access to key services and social protections due to a lack of legal rights, knowledge and/or poverty, with disproportionate effects experienced by groups such as children who move independently or remain behind. The Hub will contribute to policy efforts that close gaps in education, health and other outcomes, for example by:

    • Securing access to social protection for migrants regardless of status or sector;
    • Expanding access to education, health and other opportunities for migrants (including migrant children and the children of migrants) through sectoral policies that address the needs of migrants and specific sub-groups;
    • Developing appropriate legal frameworks to ensure migrants can access their rights to social protection; and
    • Building legal empowerment movements to ensure migrants know about, and are able to access, their rights.
    Tackling prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion

    Prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion directed towards migrants serve to reinforce inequalities of outcomes and opportunities and impact on delivery of the SDGs. Anti-discriminatory legislation and universal service provision can help promote equal opportunity, but interventions are also required to develop and strengthen the agency, voice and political participation of migrants and their families so that they can shape their environment and the decision-making processes that affect their well-being. The Hub will work with project partners to shift dominant, often negative, political and policy narratives around SSM at local, national, regional and global levels, for example by:

    • Strengthening civic engagement of socially excluded/marginalised groups;
    • Working with policy makers and advocacy organisations to develop legislation based on the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination;
    • Using new technologies to create inclusive citizen networks and build transnational solidarity;
    • Working with grassroots empowerment initiatives to ensure migrants are able to access legal rights and entitlements; and
    • Creating political space for policy interventions that directly address inequalities associated with, and arising from, South-South migration.

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