This paper, also published as a book chapter, argues that children's migration is not solely an outcome of poverty. It is not the outcome of poor parents sending away their children to reduce consumption within the household or to receive much-needed cash from their children's labour, or of children being forced to migrate to meet their own needs because their parents are unable to do so. While much of the work underlying advocacy and international programmes seeking to eliminate child labour tends to see children as passive objects in their parents' coping strategies or as victims of poverty (UNICEF 1999, 2002, 2005), this study demonstrates that adolescent children make decisions about migrating not only for economic reasons but also to have more autonomy and to acquire new skills. Based on ethnographic material about independent child migrants from the Bisa region in south-eastern Burkina Faso who travel to rural towns in the region and to the capital, the chapter explores how adolescent children use migration to renegotiate their social position and accelerate the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Paper presented to "Children and Youth in Emerging and Transforming Societies - CHILDHOODS 2005’, 29 June-3 July, Oslo, Norway. 23 pp.