Don bemoans youth migration from Northern Ghana

A lecturer at the Simon Diedong Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS) at Wa in the Upper West Region, Dr Kennedy Alatinga has said that migration of the youth from the northern part of the country to seek greener pastures in the south was detrimental to the development of the region.

He explained that due to prolonged dryness with no proper irrigation systems to support all-year-round agriculture which has been the main stay of the people, the youth were tempted to migrate down south to work as head porters (kaya) for income.

Dr Alatinga who is also Dean of the Faculty of Planning and Land Management at the SDD-UBIDS told the Ghanaian Times on Monday that the North-South migration was rampant in the dry season which mostly stretched over six to seven months.

Referencing a study he conducted last year titled; “Adolescent girls on the move: poverty and access to healthcare among adolescent migrant girl head porters in Ghana”, the lecturer said 69 per cent of the youth, particularly girls moved to Accra to work as  head porters in order to escape poverty.

“According to the living standards survey, poverty worsened from 70.7 per cent to 70.9 per cent in the Upper West Region; 44.4 per cent to 54.8 per cent  in the Upper East Region, and from 50.4 per cent  to 61.1 per cent in the Northern Region between 2012 and 2017”, he enumerated.

The lecturer said the absence of job opportunities and lack of skills were also factors that accounted for the migration of the youth for jobs that required physical strength.

“There is literature to suggest that migration could improve the wellbeing of migrants and their families if they are able to arrive safely at their destinations and secure well paid jobs”, he attested, adding that his study was able to uncover that some head porters were able to send remittances home for family upkeep.

He was however quick to add that in most cases, the head porters denied themselves of proper care in order to send money home and ended up impairing their own health.

A former head porter, Ayishatu who interacted with this paper said she moved to Accra 10 years ago at the age of 16 when her family could barely afford a meal a day.

“I lost my father two years earlier and it was difficult for my mother to raise five of us by herself as she had no land to farm, so I followed a friend to Accra”

As a head porter, she stated that even though she was able to send money home, she lived under very dehumanising conditions and slept outside most often; a situation she said, compelled her to save enough money, return home and engage in petty trading.

‘Moving helped me to raise capital for my business; it does not however imply that everyone who goes there will be fortunate. Some come home with pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases”, she said.


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