Research Activities

Research activities have continued to be important component of the academic work at the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS). Collaboration with various institutions on migration research has been sustained as its core mandate and in line with its strategic plan and that of the University of Ghana. Current research activities are innovative and relevant for development policy planning in Ghana and beyond. A summary of the research grants for three major research projects undertaken in the 2014/2015 academic year are presented on Table 1. They fall under the “Migrating out of Poverty" Research Programme Consortium’s seven-year (2010-2017) multi-partner research programme funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID). The project focuses on the relationship between migration and poverty in six regions across Asia, Africa and Europe and is coordinated at School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, UK.

Table 1 Research Grants from DFID for Three Major Research Activities, 2014-15

Title of the Project


PI’s Name


Migration to Cities in Ghana:  An analysis of the counterfactual

UK Department of International Development  (DFID)

Joseph Kofi Teye

£ 94, 000

The Migration Industry in Ghana


UK Department of International Development  (DFID)

Mariama Awumbila

£ 42, 000

Migration, Intra-Household Dynamics and Youth Aspirations in Ghana

UK Department of International Development  (DFID)

Mariama Awumbila

Migration to Cities in Ghana:  An analysis of the counterfactual

This research focuses on rural-urban linkages with the main objective of establishing whether or not (and by how much) migrants and their households have actually gained in real income and welfare terms from their migration.

The Migration to Cities is re-surveying the 1412 households that were involved in the Quantitative study in 2013 for the purpose of identifying households with recent migrants and also recent return migrants in the last two years. This will further help in comparing households who had experienced migration in the last two years (2013-2015) with those who had not. As a result, members of migrants’ families left behind at the origin and migrants themselves at the destinations will be interviewed to construct both social and economic counterfactuals of migration into cities in Ghana. 

This study will provide novel panel or series data and empirical assessment of the impact of rural-urban migration to cities on migrants’ wellbeing. It will also provide data on the interconnections between rural and urban areas. The findings will be useful to both potential migrants themselves and to policy-makers concerned with social conditions, social equity and sustainable development. In terms of methodological contribution, we hope to get a decent counterfactual, approached in several ways so that we can compare the robustness of several approaches and models. This will be a major contribution to migration research methodology, since most of the earlier studies use only one approach.

The research team members are Joseph Kofi Teye, the Principal Investigator, Mariama Awumbila and Louis Boakye-Yiadom

The Migration Industry in Ghana

As migration is increasingly receiving attention on the global development agenda, the role of intermediaries, both formal and informal, (who may include informal social networks, recruitment agencies and their chains of sub agents), in facilitating, sustaining and sometimes driving these migration flows is increasingly gaining attention.  As a result, the need to understand the structure of the migration industry in Ghana in different contexts and for different groups of migrants, the services that they provide, the implications for migration costs and the policy reform that is needed to reduce costs so as to minimise the scope for exploitation and malpractice has become important. In Ghana, although there is paucity of knowledge about the migration industry, anecdotal data indicates a wide array of both formal and informal actors who provide services that may both facilitate as well as constrain migration. The few studies undertaken have tended to focus on the industry that facilitates in particular irregular migration out of Ghana.

The research which will be an exploratory or scoping study will aim at identifying the incidence, characteristics, functions, main actors and stakeholders of the migration industry in Ghana, and the extent to which recruitment agents are involved in the migration streams. Although it will provide general information on the migration industry in Ghana, it will focus on two sectors of the Ghanaian economy as case studies, the domestic work sector and the kayayei (head porters), as anecdotal information indicates that these are the two sectors into which an increasing flow of low and semi-skilled migrants particularly from the West African sub region as well as internal migrants are flowing into. 

The study will use a mixed methods approach, including an extensive desk study, key informant interviews, in-depth interviews with formal recruitment agencies, in-depth interviews with informal intermediaries and unskilled migrants in the domestic and oil and gas sectors. Data from the research will be useful towards intervention and initiatives for the implementation of ILO Convention 189 and other international and national policies such as

  • The National Labour Policy
  • The Draft Migration Policy
  • The Child Labour Policy
  • National Social Protection Strategy

Members of the research team include Mariama Awumbila, the Principal Investigator, Leander Kandilege and Mary Satrana

Migration, Intra-Household Dynamics and Youth Aspirations in Ghana

This study examines whether migration is changing gendered power relations and roles within households and the relationship between migration and the households’ long-term investment in human capital. The study also examines whether migration of adults and associated remittance use and investment in children can shape youth aspiration towards migration and work. It further seeks to empirically examine the gendered patterns of earning, remitting and remittance use and management among households. The study adopts a sequential triangulation strategy, whereby both quantitative and qualitative data are used to answer the research questions. Data collected during a recent quantitative study by the CMS research team in five regions of Ghana (Brong Ahafo, Northern Region, Upper West Region, Volta Region and Upper East Region) are the main quantitative data. The data will be used to examine gendered patterns of remitting and remittance use among the households. The quantitative results will also serve as a sampling frame for the subsequent selection of households and respondents for the qualitative strategy during the second stage of this research. At the second stage of the research,  in-depth interviews and focus group discussions will be conducted in two (2) of the five (5) migrant sending regions, namely the Northern and Upper East Regions. The research will provide evidence based research on migration, intra-household dynamics and youth aspirations in Ghana for policy makers and NGOs. This research is led by Mariama Awumbila who is the Principal Investigator, Joseph Kofi Teye and Akosua Keseboa Darkwah.

Rural-Urban Migration, Urbanization and Food system Change in the face of Climate Change

This is a thematic area on the project “Co-producing knowledge on food systems for development in Africa.” under the Africa Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ACCAI) Partnership grant received from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Migration and urbanization have been main characteristics of Ghana’s population dynamics. Climate change-related movements have been recognized and found to be important adaptations that need to be researched. Moreover food system changes result from climate change and are areas that require research evidence for appropriate policy response. This research seeks to examine rural-urban migration and urbanization and changes in food systems in Ghana’s ecological zones that are associated with climate change in the various zones. The members of the research team are drawn from a number of disciplines in the sciences and the humanities. The research project will be provided funds to cover faculty and graduate research as part of the larger ACCI fund. The leader of the research team is Delali Badasu.

The Rural-Urban Interface: Gender and Poverty in Ghana and Kenya, Statistics and Stories

This study is being conducted by an eleven-member working and collaboration group from University of Ghana, Columbia University, Barnard College, Princeton University and University of Nairobi. It seeks to extend collaboration and build intellectual networks across the continents and disciplines. Its general objective is to gather narratives (actual experiences of the migrants) and other forms of empirical knowledge about the experiences of migrants, with special attention to feminization of poverty among migrants in the rural-urban interface. It seeks to combine the narratives with statistics (combining qualitative knowledge with quantitative knowledge) to inform policy with attention on methodology and epistemology. The group is currently working with seed money, US$30,000.00 (Thirty Thousand dollars), from the Foundation for the Study of Differences in Human Society. Delali Badasu is a member of the working group, representing the Regional Institute for Population Studies (her mother department) and the Centre for Migration Studies.

Migration Data Guide for Ghana

Having recognized the contribution of migration to development, a partnership between the European Union and Africa has been implementing a number of initiatives to support public policy formulation through the use of migration data. The main objective of the use of the migration data at the national level is to contribute to policy coherence on migration and harmonization of migration policies. The production of migration data guide is being supported under the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development, referred to as the Rabat Process; and the members of the EU, ECOWAS and many countries in Europe and Latin America and Asia. The Rabat process has a number of objectives and the production of evidence-based migration data is one of them and is part of the third phase of the Rabat Process. The production of the migration data guide (Support Project) is financed by the European Union and elaborated by a consortium led by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the international Latin American Foundation for Public Administrations and Public Policies (FIIAPP). The production of the guide depended on secondary sources of data mainly and was supplemented by primary data from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to identify sources of migration data, producers and users. It aims to encourage knowledge sharing and coordination among stakeholders, thereby reinforcing dialogue among them. The production of Ghana’s guide was supported by 5,500 Euro from the EU. Delali Badasu represented the Centre for Migration Studies as the expert for the production of Ghana’s Migration Data Guide.