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International Journal of Population Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 610193, 10 pages
The Effects of Rural-Urban Migration on Rural Communities of Southeastern Nigeria
Department of Geography, University of Nigeria, Nsukka 410001, Nigeria
Received 27 February 2013; Revised 9 June 2013; Accepted 29 July 2013
Academic Editor: Sally Guttmacher
Copyright © 2013 Chukwuedozie K. Ajaero and Patience C. Onokala. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This paper examined the effects of rural-urban migration on the rural communities of Southeastern Nigeria. Data were obtained using mixed methods approach comprising questionnaire surveys and key informant interviews. Six rural local government areas (LGAs) were selected based on population size and spatial equity from two states of Southeastern Nigeria. From each of the rural LGAs, fifty migrant-sending households were sampled for the study. Multiple regression and hierarchical cluster analyses were used to estimate and categorize the effects of rural-urban migration due to remittances and community projects executed by the rural-urban migrants, respectively. In addition, the Chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis tests were utilized in prioritizing areas for development interventions in the rural communities. The regression analysis shows that rural-urban migration contributes significantly towards the development of their rural communities through monetary remittances and the involvement of the rural-urban migrants in community development projects. Based on the findings, recommendations such as initiation of development projects based on the identified needs of each of the rural communities to augment the effects of migration in the study area are made.
Globally, the nexus between migration and development has remained an issue under vigorous academic debate [1–6]. Therefore, the process of people migrating to other areas in search of a better life is not a novel one. What has however gained currency is the increasing voluntary movement in quest of better quality of life by low-skill and low-wage workers as well as high-skill and high-wage workers from less developed rural areas to more developed urban areas, especially among the poor in the developing countries [7–10].
In this regard, rural-urban migration results from the search for perceived or real opportunities as a consequence of rural-urban inequality in wealth [11, 12]. This inequality and/or urban bias in development according to research findings over the years results from the overwhelming concentration of wealth, assets, purchasing capacity, economic activities, and variety of services in the urban centres as well as the continued neglect and degradation of rural environments or areas [13–26].
Migration has also been identified as a survival strategy utilized by the poor, especially the rural dwellers. The assessment of the effects of migration on rural areas has remained relevant since migration acts as a catalyst in the transformation process of not only the destiny of individual migrants but also the conditions of family members left behind, local communities, and the wider sending regions. One significant source of development for the rural populace as a result of this increasing drift towards the cities is remittances. Recently, migrants’ remittances and the income multipliers they create are becoming critical resources for the sustenance strategies of receiving households as well as agents of regional and national development . Households that receive these remittances tend to use the proceeds primarily for current consumption (food, clothing) as well as investments in children’s education, health care, improvement in household food and security, and water and sanitation. Nevertheless, the ability of remittances to compensate the labour shortage in rural areas is still a function of the amounts and value of remittances received by migrants’ households at home, especially in the developing countries .
Consequently, the effects of rural-urban migration in the rural places of origin of migrants may be manifest in two ways. First, the rural-urban migrants send remittances to their relatives in the rural areas and these remittance-receiving households use the remittances for various purposes. Secondly, these rural-urban migrants execute various rural developmental projects in their rural areas of origin. In Nigeria, most migrants coming from a particular rural community to live in an urban area usually form rural community associations in the urban area. These community associations in the urban areas articulate, from time to time, the developmental needs of their rural communities of origin and contribute resources to execute projects such as road construction and the award of educational scholarships to students in the rural areas.
A combination of these rural community projects executed by the rural-urban migrants and the uses of remittances by rural remittance-receiving households serve as indicators of the effects of rural-urban migration on the population concerned. In this regard, and in tandem with contemporary praxis, the paradigm shift in the meaning of development emphasizes personal satisfaction consequent on improvement in the quality of life of the “individual” and/or “population” involved in the developmental process . Accordingly, each population ranks community developmental projects and uses of remittances in the order of importance they believe will ensure their satisfaction and happiness. It is also the existence of these projects and the uses of remittances derivable from the migration process that reflect the level of socioeconomic development that can be traceable to rural-urban migration . Therefore, the combination of these projects by migrants and the various uses of remittances in the past three years, according to the respondents, are what they see as indicators of development in their rural communities.
In different parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive, research has been carried out on the effects of migration on the migrants’ rural communities of origin. Some of these studies include those of Glytsos  in Eastern Europe, Sibanda  in South Africa, Azam and Gubert  in Mali, Lucas  in Albania and Morocco, Nwajiuba  in Nigeria, Adams  in Latin America, McKenzie , Taylor and Mora  in Mexico, Sorenson  in Somali, Pozo , and the World Bank  in developing countries. However, these studies focus mainly on international migration and on uses of remittances leaving the research that estimates the effects of rural-urban migration on rural communities in developing countries undone.
Rural out-migration is important in the Igbo speaking areas of Southeastern Nigeria. This is because the mass exodus of people from the overpopulated areas of Igboland has been one of the most spectacular phenomena of the 20th century in Nigeria . Studies on migration in Southeastern Nigeria include an assessment of changes in urban-rural ties from 1961 to 1987 in Eastern Nigeria . Also, another study in Anambra state found that many Igbo families encouraged their family members to migrate because of the belief that their continued stay in the village will not bring financial success . Moreover, a study carried out in Aba, southeastern Nigeria, focused only on rural-urban interactions without examining the migratory processes that yielded the interactions  while  concentrated on international migration and its impact on livelihoods. Recently,  carried out a study of rural-urban migration on the poverty status of migrants in urban areas of Abia state.
In other parts of Nigeria, the factors associated with drift of youths from rural to urban areas in Kwara state have been examined . Reference  used the logistic regression model to appraise the factors of rural-urban migration into Lagos state while the characteristics and determinants of rural-urban migration in Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA of Lagos state have also been investigated . Furthermore, the National Living Standard Survey (NLSS) (2004) data collected for rural Nigeria has been used to estimate a multinomial logit model of the economic and demographic determinants of migration and receipt of remittances in rural Nigeria .
From the review of the literature, it is clear that most of the rural-urban migration studies done in Nigeria virtually excluded the effects of these rural-urban migrations on the rural sending communities and are in most cases sample surveys on characteristics and determinants of migration. There is, therefore, a need for studies that will determine the effects of rural-urban migration on rural communities in developing countries especially in Nigeria where rural-urban migration has been on the increase in recent times. The estimation of the effects of rural-urban migration on the rural communities will aid policy interventions by governments and development agencies in their quest to facilitate the development of these rural communities. The purpose of this research is therefore to examine the effects of rural-urban migration on rural communities of Abia and Imo states of Nigeria.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. The Study Area
The study area comprises six rural local government areas (LGAs) in Abia and Imo states. They exhibit homogenous, environmental, and agro-climatic characteristics, are part of the Igbo-speaking areas of Nigeria, and were formerly a single state (i.e., old Imo state) before Abia state was carved out of the old Imo state in 1991. These states are located between latitudes 4°80′′ and 8°47′′ north of the equator and longitudes 6°67′′ and 7°13′′ east of the Greenwich meridian. The population of the rural LGAs used in this study according to the 2006 population census is 593,222 persons. This number is made up of 298,171 males and 295051 females as shown in Table 1 .
From Table 1, it could be seen that the population is not evenly distributed in the study area and the average population density of the study area is 727 persons per square kilometer. While 44 percent of the population lives in urban areas, 56 percent of the population lives in the rural areas . Literacy level in the study area is 86 percent and 93 percent for females and males, respectively, while about 18 percent of females and 14 percent of males aged between 6 and 11 have no formal education. Also 68 percent of males and 57 percent of females are employed .
2.2. Selection of Sample Population
In Nigeria, a rural area is defined as an area having a population of less than 20,000 persons . Also, each state in Nigeria has three senatorial zones and therefore there exist six senatorial zones in the two states used in this study. From each of the senatorial zones in the two states, a rural LGA was selected so as to ensure spatial equity in the two states used in this study. In all, six rural LGAs were used for this study. In selecting a rural LGA from each senatorial zone, all the rural LGAs in the zone were ranked in terms of their population size based on the 2006 population census results. From the rankings, the least populated LGA was systematically selected from each senatorial zone in the study area on the premise that the less populated a rural LGAs, the more relatively rural such an LGA will be compared to the more populated rural LGAs going by the definition of rural areas in Nigeria by NPC above. The sampled rural LGAs are as follows.(i)Abia state: Ukwa East LGA (representing Abia South Senatorial zone), Isikwuato LGA (representing Abia Central Senatorial zone), and Ikwuano LGA (representing Abia North Senatorial zone).(ii)Imo state: Nkwere LGA (representing Imo West Senatorial zone), Onuimo LGA (representing Imo North Senatorial zone), and Owerri West LGA (representing Imo East Senatorial zone).
From each of the rural local government areas (LGAs), fifty rural-urban migrant-sending households were used for the study totaling three hundred households. In the selection of the households, the communities in each LGA were arranged in terms of their population size based on the results of the 1991 population census. The results of the 1991 census were used because the results of the 2006 census do not contain community level data. After arranging the communities according to their population sizes, the five least populated communities were selected from each LGA for sampling. In each of the selected rural communities, ten rural-urban migrant-sending households were randomly selected and used for this study.
2.3. Data Collection
This study utilized a mixed methods approach for data collection and analysis. Mixed methods approaches have recently been utilized in development research in Nigeria and have been noted to be user-friendly especially where there is paucity or absence of baseline data or when dealing with research participants with low literacy levels . In the collection of data for this research, household questionnaire was administered on the respondents who are the household heads so as to derive information on incidence of rural-urban migration in sampled households, the nature of remittances sent to the rural households by the rural-urban migrants, uses of remittances by the rural households, and rural community developmental projects executed by the rural-urban migrants in their rural areas of origin.
In addition, two key informant interviews (KIIs) were also conducted with one traditional ruler and one opinion leader considered to be adequately knowledgeable in each of the sampled rural LGAs. Thus, in each of the states, six KIIs were conducted giving a total of twelve KIIs for the two states. The interviews were used to gather ethnographic information, especially those which may be difficult to be adequately captured by questionnaires because African social dynamics do not always or often find expression, fully or partially, in figures . As a result, illustrative quotes from the KIIs are used to buttress the quantitative data. Finally, secondary sources of data on population size and characteristics were used as appropriate. Furthermore, secondary data were used in the review of the literature and in the selection of analytical techniques used in this study. The sources of secondary data include the National Population Commission offices, libraries, government offices, and data from other published sources.
2.4. Data Analysis
The nature of remittances sent to the rural households by the rural-urban migrants, the uses of these remittances by the rural receiving households, and the nature of developmental projects executed by the rural-urban migrants in their rural communities of origin were highlighted with descriptive statistics. Furthermore, regression analysis was used to quantify the effects of rural-urban migration on the rural migrant-sending communities in the study area using data on the projects executed by the rural-urban migrants in these rural communities and the various uses of remittances by the rural receiving households. According to Anyadike , the regression equation used is of the form: where represents the magnitude of the effects of rural-urban migration (dependent variable), is the constant that scales the equation, represent the projects executed by the rural-urban migrants in their rural areas of origin and uses of remittances by the rural receiving households (the independent variables) and refer to the regression coefficients of the independent variables. Subsequently, hierarchical cluster analysis was used to classify the magnitude of the effects of rural-urban migration in different parts of the study area based on the results of the regression estimates.
In addition, the Chi-square analytical technique was used to test the variations observed in the effects of rural-urban migration in the rural areas, while the Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance by ranks test (Kruskal-Wallis test) was used to prioritize the developmental impact variables in the study area for policy formulation and implementation. The Kruskal-Wallis test which is a nonparametric method of analysis is an advanced form of the Mann-Whitney test. It was used because unlike the Mann Whitney test that analyses the association of only two variables, the Kruskal-Wallis test analyses the degree of association between more than two variables. In addition, the technique assumes an identically shaped and scaled distribution for variables and brings out significant results when at least one of the variables of analysis is different from the others . All the analyses were carried out using SPSS program and the results of the analyses presented in tables and charts.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. The Nature of Remittances and Community Projects Executed by the Rural-Urban Migrants in Their Rural Areas of Origin
A major contemporary issue in migration research is that of remittances. Literature abounds, as noted in earlier section of this work, on the importance of remittances as most people left behind by migrants always look up to the migrants for remittances. The importance of remittance transfer is that it will help those left in the rural areas to cope with the hardship associated with diminishing and/or complete depletion of the environmental resources on which their livelihood depends. According to our respondents, the rural-urban migrants remit any or all of the food, money, and clothing to their rural households of origin. The results in Table 2 show that while 81% of the rural-urban migrant-sending households admit that they receive remittances from the rural-urban migrants in Abia state, only 20.69% of the rural-urban migrant-sending households in Imo state receive remittances from the rural-urban migrants.
This sharp difference in the proportion of rural households that receive remittances between the two states may be due to the fact that most of the heads of the rural households in Imo state are very educated and retired civil servants who live on their pension and depend less on remittances from their wards who migrated to the city. On the other hand, the majority of the heads of the rural households in Abia state are not too educated, engage more in petty trading than in paid and pensionable employment, and lack sufficient money for the sustenance of their households. They therefore depend so much on remittances from their wards in the urban area as a means of livelihood. In addition, the most common remittance to these rural households according to findings of this study is in the form of money as revealed by 82.50% and 14.70% of the heads of the rural households in Abia and Imo states, respectively. It can also be seen that the majority of the rural households comprising of at least 40% of the rural households in Abia and Imo states receive remittances once every month. The information on the amount of remittances shows that most remittances in both states range between 2,001 and 6,000 Nigerian naira. The proportions of rural households that receive remittances within this range of money make up over 50% of respondents in both states.
Key informant information reveals that most of these rural households depend solely on agriculture and other primary economic activities for their livelihood. As such, a steady supply of remittances is viewed with utmost importance in augmenting their farm proceeds and their other sources of livelihoods despite the fact that the amount may appear to be too small. Furthermore, this study found out that the majority of these rural households does not even earn up to 5000 Nigerian naira per month from the sale of their agricultural produce in a month, and as a matter of fact they eagerly expect these remittances from the rural-urban migrants. The fact that the rural-urban migrants mostly remit once a month is also an indication that whatever resources left at home for their relatives in the rural areas are inadequate to cater for their needs. It also seems that they mostly remit once a month when they have collected their salaries or wages.
Finally, the results in Table 2 also revealed that 72.10% of the respondents in Abia state agree that the rural-urban migrants engage in rural community projects in their rural areas of origin as against 27% of respondents in Imo state within the period of this study. This view was echoed in a response in one of the KIIs:
(Chief Uche, 72-year-old retired principal from Isikwuato interviewed on November 7, 2011).
This disparity in the proportion of rural-urban migrants who execute rural development projects may be due to two related reasons. First, Imo state being the original state from where Abia state was carved out is more developed, and as such has less need of development projects than Abia state. This is because more government projects exist in Imo state. In addition, the population of Imo state is more educated than the populations of most states in Nigeria resulting in Imo state population being involved in rural community developmental projects earlier than their counterparts in Abia state.
Some of the rural projects these migrants engage in include road construction and rehabilitation, sinking of community water boreholes, rehabilitation of schools, and awarding of scholarships to brilliant and indigent students.
3.2. Estimation of the Effects of Rural-Urban Migration in the Study Area
In this study, the estimation of the effects of rural-urban migration in the rural communities (places of origin of migrants) is anchored on two categories of independent variables. The first category of variables is the various rural developmental projects executed by the rural-urban migrants in their rural communities of origin. The second category of variables is the various ways the rural remittance-receiving households use remittances received from the rural-urban migrants. A combination of these two categories of independent variables, according to the respondents, leads to the development of the rural communities, and/or the improvement in the quality of life of the rural populations.
Consequently, the regression analysis results shown in Table 3 have a constant () of 1.879, and the calculated value from the ANOVA which was used to test the significance of the regression analysis is 0.640. Since this calculated value is less than the table value, it means that there really exists a significant relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable which in this case represents developmental impact of rural-urban migration.
The results in Table 3 show the estimates of the contributions of the independent variables to the development of the rural communities. For instance, it can be seen that each 0.054 increase in using remittances to train children in school translates to one unit increase in effects of rural-urban migration, keeping all other factors constant. Alternatively, each 0.067 decrease in the use of remittances to execute funerals in the study area translates to one unit increase in the effects of rural-urban migration in the study area.
These regression coefficients were subsequently multiplied by the frequency of respondents that indicated that they engage in the projects and the frequency of usage of remittances for different purposes in the study area so as to quantify the aggregate magnitude of the effects of rural-urban migration in the different rural communities using all the independent variables. As shown in Table 4, Imo East Senatorial zone recorded the greatest aggregate magnitude of the effects of migration while Imo West zone recorded the least magnitude of the effects of migration in the study area.
However, the aggregate results of the effects of migration between the two states show that Abia state has an impact score of 13.57 as against a low score of 7.39 recorded in Imo state, despite the fact that Imo East zone recorded the greatest score of 25.72. The aggregate low score for Imo state means that the lower scores recorded for Imo West and Imo North were significant enough so as to neutralize the high score from Imo East. This aggregate score is further explained by the results of the analyses in Table 2 above where only 20.60% of Imo state rural-urban migrants remit to their places of origin as against 81% of rural-urban migrants who remit in Abia state. The recipients of these remittances in the rural areas place high premium on the remittances, according to Pa Godson Eze:
(Pa Godson Eze, 67-year-old male from Ikwuano Interviewed on September 23, 2011).
I usually look up to my first son who lives in Aba to send money to me for the payment of the school fees of my youngest daughter who lives with me, and takes care of my house since my wife is late and I am no longer strong enough to carry on with my work as a carpenter.
Even though the recipients of these remittances use them for specific purposes, the frequency which they expect the remittances also varies from recipient to recipient. As stated in the quote above, that particular recipient usually expects the school fees once in three to four months which represents an academic term in the school that his daughter attends. Elsewhere, the remittances may be expected on a biweekly or a monthly basis as noted below by a respondent in a focus group discussion at Onuimo LGA:
(Madam Ifenyinwa, 55-year-old widow interviewed on November 5, 2011).
I survive mainly on the money and food stuff my son and his wife send to me. I usually engage in little subsistence farming and use the money they send to me once every two weeks to buy most of the food I cook in my house. The money they send to me every two weeks depends on the amount they can afford since my son is an artisan and may not be able to send the money in bulk at the end of a month.
In addition, only 27.90% of Imo state rural-urban migrants are involved in community projects as against 72.10% of their counterparts in Abia state. Subsequently, using hierarchical cluster analysis, the area of study was grouped into three categories to show the relative developmental importance of migration in the study area using hierarchical cluster analysis as shown in Figures 1 and 2.
Figure 1 indicates that the magnitude of the effects of rural-urban migration is categorized into three with Imo East recording relatively high effect while Imo North and Imo West recorded a relatively low effect of rural-urban migration. At state level, Figure 2 reveals that while Abia state has a relatively moderate effect of migration, Imo state recorded relatively low effect of rural-urban migration.
The Regression results have established the fact that rural-urban migration exerts varying effects in different parts of the study area. Subsequently, Chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis analyses were used to pinpoint the exact influences of the independent variables across the different LGAs in the study area. The Chi-square test was used to determine whether the observed effects of the independent variables across different parts of the study differ significantly from the general effects of these variables as indicated by the regression analysis. The purpose is to prioritize areas of interventions with regards to maximizing the effects of rural-urban migration in different parts of the study area. Subsequently, the results of the Chi-square analyses for the two states in the study area indicate that some of the independent variables differ significantly in their effects in the study area. In Abia state, the variables that differ significantly in their impact are the uses of remittances for debt repayment, buying of food, house building/maintenance, savings, education of children, and the involvement of rural-urban migrants in education projects. In Imo state, it is only the involvement of rural-urban migrants in education that differs significantly in its effects across the state. Again, to be able to isolate the senatorial zones where the effects of these variables vary significantly, the Kruskal-Wallis test was applied to the data as shown in Table 5. For the purposes of this study, a score of more than 50 means that such a variable is viewed by the respondents as possessing significant and desirable effects of rural-urban migration.
In the results shown in Table 5, the scores for the senatorial zones that exhibit significant effects of rural-urban migration are made bold and italicized for easy comprehension of their various degrees of impact. It can be seen that in Abia state, for instance, the effects of education of household members have a high impact on the population of Abia South. It has a rank of 52 as against the ranks of 39 and 36 recorded in Abia North and Abia Central, respectively. Also in Imo State, involvement of rural-urban migrants’ education project is viewed as having more development effects in Imo West than in Imo North and Imo East. The results show that educational projects ranked 54 in Imo West as against 36 and 44 recorded in Imo North and Imo East, respectively.
4. Conclusions and Recommendations
This study revealed that upon migration, the rural-urban migrants usually send back remittances in the forms of money, food, and clothing and at a definite interval with most of them remitting once a month. In addition, the rural-urban migrants also embark on and execute some developmental projects in their rural communities of origin. Both the availability or otherwise of these developmental projects and the various uses of the remittances are viewed by the rural population as an indicator of socioeconomic development. Consequently, as long as these projects and the uses of the remittances are concerned, they improve the population’s quality of life and well-being and increase their happiness and satisfaction, all of which according to respondents represent socioeconomic development. This study was also able to quantify the contributory effects of these rural developmental projects and the various uses of remittances in the study using regression analysis. The different parts of the study area were categorized into areas that experience low, moderate, and high effects of rural-urban migration.
The Kruskal-Wallis test was able to pinpoint areas that require more and urgent developmental intervention in the study area. Having quantified the effects of rural-urban migration in the various parts of the study area, it is expected that the findings of this study will make it easy for governments, NGOs, policy makers, and so forth to initiate appropriate development interventions to augment the contributions of rural-urban migration in the area. These interventions should be aimed at the projects which the Kruskal-Wallis test identified as needing priority attention in the different parts of the study area. As noted earlier, each state in Nigeria has three senatorial zones and each senatorial zone has a senator. These senators are regularly paid some money to execute some developmental projects in their senatorial constituencies. It is therefore recommended that the senators take cognizance of the needs of their various constituencies in the initiation and execution of constituency projects.
Second, governments at Federal, State and LGA levels should ensure that social infrastructures are put in place in the rural areas so as to improve the quality of life of the population. Consequently, skills acquisition centers should be established in different parts of the study area. These centers would be used to inculcate self-sustaining skills in the youth, at the same time providing them with employment and helping to stem the tide of rural-urban drift. Finally, concerted effort should be directed towards improving the agriculture capacities of the rural populations since agriculture is their main source of livelihoods. If their agricultural capacities are improved, it will translate to increased agricultural produce and ultimately reduce the dependency of the rural households on remittances for survival. It should be noted these this recommendations are not exhaustive but as noted earlier more appropriate ones can be added based on the unique nature of the area concerned. However, if diligently executed these recommendations will go a long way in augmenting the contributions of rural-urban migration towards socioeconomic development of the study area.
This research was supported by the International Foundation for Science (IFS), Stockholm, Sweden, through a grant to Chukwuedozie Kelechukwu Ajaero. The authors are also grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.
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