Livelihood analyses of internal migration in Papua New Guinea

migraciya2This paper argues that internal migration, which is dominated by ‘rural’ migration and migrants, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), is best conceptualised within the livelihood framework of Frank Ellis (2000). The focus in this paper on rural to rural and rural to peri-urban migration is important because these types of migrants dominate in the domestic scene of migration. These types of migrants may be incorrectly labeled as ‘ labour migrants” as a result.

The livelihood framework permits appropriate explanations that include interactions between factors and processes of both macro and micro level in nature. Seen as a livelihood diversification process, migration is a process through which migrants negotiate livelihood options in terms of their access or claim to resources and social relations.

The livelihood activities and outcomes that migrants realise, access or conduct also depend upon the impact of institutions, organisations and regional disparities in development. This framework defines five categories of resources necessary for migrants to access in order to maintain a diversified livelihood. These are natural (land, trees, water), physical (natural resources transformed through economic production or tools and machinery), financial (stocks of income and saving), human (levels of health and education) and social (networks and associations) resources.

This paper sees internal migration in PNG as a livelihood process through which migrants, drawing on both the past and present ways and values, create, strengthen or realise new and existing networks and relationships between peoples, and origin and destination places. But a process that is shaped and shapes and links, in new yet old, beneficial and problematic ways, peoples, places, socio-cultural, institutional or structural systems with the migrants whose pursuit is that of a satisfactory livelihood.

Multi-methods have been employed to study internal migration and migrant livelihoods. Macro methods include SPSS cross tabulations of migration and social data from Papua New Guinea’s latest census 2000. Published information about internal migration since the first census of 1966 is also being consulted. Fieldwork in 2005 in Papua New Guinea employed mostly micro level methods.

A household questionnaire survey of 100 households (migrants and non migrants) was conducted in 15 villages/squatter settlements of Morobe and Eastern Highlands Provinces. Life histories were collected of an average of two adults in surveyed household to gauge migration history and livelihood diversification process of individuals. Observations and field notes were recorded of activities and mobility. Rapid rural appraisals were undertaken to gauge the impact of migration on communities and migrant livelihoods. Interviews too were conducted with gatekeepers and locals not included in the survey.

At this point only macro level data is analysed but micro level data is not fully analysed as yet. This is a preliminary summary of some major findings. Macro patterns are, as a livelihood and social process of change, migration opens the door to new ways of living and benefits or new problems, as much as it connects peoples and places and is influenced by institutions, structures in society and is assisted buy regional disparities in development.

Access to resources may be direct or indirect and is mediated by road and other modes of transportation as well as the strength of relationships between migrants, households and communities at both origin and destination. But the livelihood activities and outcomes migrants realise are not entirely economic in nature. Outcomes underscore the important role of money in migrant livelihood pursuits.

Outcomes also reinforce the importance of networks and relationships that operate at individual, household and community level as sustainable systems of livelihood support. Throughout the life course of people, as life histories show, people use networks and relationships, as they undertake multiple moves, much of which are committed to fulfilling personal aspirations or ambitions in sports, education, marriage or casual work. Individuals migrate to fulfill also community obligations as in their participation in regional or national religious programs.

These moves are short-term and result in a return to the village. For those who settle in a village destination, the main reasons are marriage and the acquisition of land or rights to tenure. Migrant households who settle in squatter settlements cite strong deterrents of fear such as sorcery or witchcraft but more incentives to stay mediated by easy access to markets. Within the livelihood framework and using multi-methods, internal migration might be understood in ways that appropriately inform policy.

Created by LITAU Jennifer

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