Is Migration the Solution to Poverty Alleviation in Kenya? Rural-Urban Migration Experiences of Migrants from Western Kenya to Kisumu and Nairobi. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper 21

Abstract

Out-migration from western Kenya to Kenya’s urban areas dates back to the colonial period and remains a reflection of regional inequality as migrants try to move out of their poorer origins to destinations with promising economic opportunties. Out-migration in Western Kenya, mainly from the Siaya and Vihiga counties, is directed towards the regional city of Kisumu and the national capital of Nairobi city, which for long has been the country’s primate city. Underdevelopment in western Kenya and the desired lifestyle of the cities drive both rural-urban migration and rural-rural migration, to the county’s economic hubs that rely on commercial agriculture. Siaya and Vihiga are two contrasting counties. Siaya has vast landscapes wallowing in poverty due to subsistence agriculture whereas Vihiga is unsuitable for agriculture because of large boulders occupying much of the cultivable land. Using mixed qualitative methodology consisting of key informant interviews, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, the study found that although Kisumu is closer to the region of origin than Nairobi, the latter has the greater attraction. The migrants fare much better in urban destinations where they maintain strong contacts with their origins, to where they send remittances for relatives left behind. At the end of a migratory life, the vast majority of migrants expect to return to their homes to try and lead better lives than non-migrant folk, and to develop their communties as well as their counties of origin. The findings of the study corroborate findings of previous studies in Kenya that underscore the contribution of rural-urban migration to poverty reduction.

Citation

Oucho, J.O.; Oucho, L.A.; Ochieng, V. Is Migration the Solution to Poverty Alleviation in Kenya?Rural-Urban Migration Experiences of Migrants from Western Kenya to Kisumu and Nairobi. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper 21. Migrating out of Poverty Consortium, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK (2014) 28 pp.

Is Migration the Solution to Poverty Alleviation in Kenya? Rural-Urban Migration Experiences of Migrants from Western Kenya to Kisumu and Nairobi. Migrating out of Poverty RPC Working Paper 21

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