Friday, March 19, 2010

Internal Migration, Spatial Distribution of Population

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA9MB)- Internal migration is an important factor in the spatial distribution of population in The Gambia. A large number of majority migrants settle in urban agglomerates where there is a high concentration of employment opportunities and social amenities, which act as pull factors.
The research done by this reporter revealed that more and more people, especially youths, are finding their way everyday to the urban centers.
Internal migration has cause a stress on social services, leading to rising urban poverty, and the worst incidence of urban poverty can be seen in the Greater Banjul Area, where 51 percent of the country’s population is concentrated.
It has caused a great hardship to elderly persons living the rural areas, which are empty as a result of the exodus of the youths. Anther result is also that work in agriculture has declined dramatically due to lack of adequate manpower in the sector, with mainly “old men and women” doing the job.
The 2003 national population census revealed that a total of 242,213 persons were recorded as in-migrants whose place of birth was different from their place of enumeration.
Statistics from the 2003 census revealed that, among the local government areas (LGAs), Kanifing has the highest proportion of in-migrants with 42.0 percent, followed by Brikama 25.2 and Banjul 21.3 percent, whilst Basse recorded the lowest with 2.1 percent.
On the other hand, out-migration was highest in Banjul with over 110.5 percent followed by Mansakonko 40.1 percent, Kerewan 34.8 percent whereas Kanifing recorded the lowest 9.5 percent.
Due to the increase in international migration, the country has in recent times attracted increasing numbers of refugees and economic migrants.
According to figures, the Gambia is hosting 14,000 refugees from countries like Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, among others.
Also, using a conservative definition, at the global level, it is estimated that approximately 740 million people are internal migrants, almost four times as many as those who have moved across national borders.
The presence of a relatively large influx of non-Gambians, mainly from the sub-region, is evident in the country, but statistics on international migration are inadequate.
In 1983, the census counted 60,796 non-Gambians, accounting for just about 9 percent of the country’s total population.
This is borne out by the fact that between 1983 and 1993 the non-Gambian population more than doubled from 60,796 to 134,118, representing 8.8 percent and 12.9 percent of the national population respectively.
In 2003, the non-Gambian population showed a decline to 119,776, representing 8,8 percent of the total population.
Rapid urban growth, which can be partly attributed to internal migration, can pose major challenges. While people may be attracted by the better opportunities available in cities, it is nonetheless true that local services and amenities may come under severe strain.
Many newcomers and their families in developing countries put up in shanty towns and slums, typically on the outskirts of large cities.
Findings added that rural-urban migration is a serious concern in the Gambia, as it is in many other developing countries.
The problem of rural-urban migration may have serious consequences at the family level.
In The Gambian context, migrants from rural area could add to the burden of an urban relative who feels bound by tradition to provide whatever support may be necessary. This is equally true of economic social migrants, such as students.
Rural-urban migration has contributed towards aggravating congestion, deteriorating sanitary conditions, increasing unemployment among youth, and in bringing excessive pressure to bear on social infrastructure in the urban areas.
In the rural areas, it has resulted in labour shortages in agriculture during the peak of the season, and a demographic structure characterised by a higher dependency burden.
However, any action must keep in view international agreements and protocols, such as the ECOWAS treaty to which The Gambia is a signatory.

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