Political Economy, Migration, and HIV Transmission

In: Custom essay samples

Political Economy, Migration, and HIV Transmission

Political Economy and Migration

According to political economy, there are three push factors for migration:  poor economic conditions in the country, political conditions that compel people to migrate, and socio-cultural conditions of migrants.   Migration remains largely undocumented, nevertheless, it is generally known to be on the increase, remain irreversible and uncontrollable.  According to the study on refugees and internally displaced people in Africa, Akokpari notes that civil and ethnic conflicts, colonial and racist rule, oppressive governments and environmental facts disasters are the main causes of Africa’s refugee crisis (1998).  Voluntary migration is caused by economic reasons – migration to the more economically developed countries.  African state’s partisan posture and inability to address and resolve tensions in society, hostility of international economy and resulting economic pressures lead to increased migration. 

Migration caused by economic factors is especially evident in the Americas where large number of migrants comes from Latin American and Caribbean countries to Canada and the United States.  According to Nicola Phillips, migration is characterized by the surplus of labour in Latina American and Caribbean countries caused by demographic trends and the increasing demand for labour in the United States and Canada caused by the aging population (2006).  Even though both regions should benefit from migration, the U.S. immigration policy is adjusted to the needs of employers looking for low-skilled and low-waged employees.  Such employees come from Mexico, Latin America, and Caribbean countries.  They are denied a wide range of social and legal rights, and are not granted protection and equality.  From perspective of political economy, migrants enjoy only small portion of economic benefits.  Nevertheless, there is a positive correlation between the earnings received by immigrants in the home-countries and the destination countries. People are forced to migrate if they do not have an opportunity to earn for living in their home country.  According to the study conducted by Kevin O’Rourke and Richard Sinnot, migration tends to increase if income is more dispersed in the destination country than in the home country (2003). 

Migration in African region is driven by a different set of causes one of which is political instability and partisan posture.   As Peris has noted, the post-1994 realignment of the sate-civil society landscape in Africa is characterized by opposition to the apartheid state instead of emphasizing the reconstruction and development of the region (2005).  Based on the principles of political economy, the civil society human resources in African region have depleted because many activists moved into government positions.  Second, the culture of “non-criticism” has emerged which, according to political economy, failed to ensure improvement in delivery of socio-economic rights.  African states are unable to distribute the political and economic resources fairly among the diverse competing constituencies, as well as not able to promote the fair competition for these resources (Akokpari, 1998).   The political weakness leads to the national conflicts and wars, which is especially evident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Liberia, and Chad.  The Liberian civil war of 1990-1997, in particular, was caused by the state’s partiality in distributing resources among the citizens. 
The special attention should be devoted to impact of environment on migration in Africa.  Environment factor is not one of the factors studies by political economics, nevertheless, it is one of the most important factors influencing the economic development of the African region.  More than 10 million Africans migrated in 1985 because of continuous wars, government repression and inability of land to provide nutrition.  Africans were threatened by famine because of drought.  Environmental degradation, diminishing resources and intensive competition among users contribute to the increased rate of migration.  As Akokpari has noted in his research on Political Economy of Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, rapid population growth, poverty, and environmental degradation are closely related and lead to the increased migration (1998).  In addition, declining importance of African primary products and systematic marginalization in the global economy produce new tensions and conflicts in African countries.   

Moreover, chronic poverty, which is one of the problems investigated by political economists, has shifted from being an exclusively rural problem to urban areas.  In some African countries the urban poverty rate reaches 20% (Crush, 2006); at least one third of all population in Kenya and Mozambique.  Only within ten years the slum population in Sub-Saharan region increased by 65 million and it is predicted that within the next 15 years the number of slum population will double.  Insecure tenure, overcrowding, and lack of clean water and sanitation lead to forced migration. 

Migration in Ghana

Within the last three decades Ghana experienced a rapid population growth which resulted in increased supply of labor and created a pressure over the available cultivable land, and, as a result, caused increased migration.  In addition to demographic factors, the migration in Ghana is influenced by the macro-economic environment:  the terms of trade are turned against agriculture and rural policies are focused on over-valued exchange rates, industrial protection, and  income differentials between rural and urban areas.  National economic policies suppress farm prices and decrease income of people living in rural areas encouraging them to shift out of agricultural production.  Therefore, migration in Ghana is induced with the expectation of higher earnings and improved financial well-being.  Reduced costs on transportation also contribute to the increased migration (Anarfi and Kwakye, 2003). 
The social and economic vulnerability of urban and rural residents, lack of healthcare and employment opportunities, and insufficient supply of basic service provision, and uncontrollable migration significantly contribute to the spread of AIDS in African region.  

AIDS and migration

The response of government to AIDS epidemic in Africa is slow and closely related to post-election period of 1980s.  From standpoint of political economy, the spread of AIDS in Africa is characterized by poor coordination, limited inter-sectoral collaboration, and variable commitment from decision makers and NGOs (Peris, 2005)).  According to statistics, number of HIV infected will reach its peak in 2009 to estimated 8 million of people.  AIDS is the biggest cause of death of 15-49 year olds in Africa and the number is constantly increasing.  As the result, the burden upon hospital capacity to govern patients with AIDS significantly contributes to the governmental expenses.  As much as 60 percent of hospital beds are occupied by AIDS patients.  Epidemic overlays the difficult economic and regional conditions of African countries and reduced the funds initially intended for social development. 

HIV/AIDS is the major challenge to government in the poorest African countries (Peris, 2005).  In addition, prevention of AIDS is a top priority for uninfected and those who are sexually active.  Leaving aside the medical and ethical perspectives, study within political economy indicates that African governments face severe internal challenges because of increasing burdens upon the public sector and its inability to provide education provision and health services for people with AIDS.  Moreover, AIDS decreases citizen participation in civil society:  people with this disease have reduced time, energy, and financial resources and willingly restrict their participation in public life.  Political economists suggest that political weakness combined with lack of leadership and infringement of human rights influence the legitimacy of African government and is closely related to migration trends. 

HIV and mobility are rooted in social and economic structures:  population movement in African region takes many forms and each form carries different levels of risks for HIV spread (International Organization for Migration Project, 2005).  Political economists point out that there are at least four key ways in which migration is tied to AIDS spread:

  • Migration makes people vulnerable to high-risk sexual behavior
  • Migration limits access to prevention education, condom provision, HIV testing, and post-infection treatment
  • Migration creates multi-local social networks which lead to sexual networking
  • Socially, politically, and economically marginalized people report higher rate of HIV infections

Education, being one of the components of political economy, is not available to the vast majority of African young people.  Sex and sexuality are vital elements of every culture, while migration disrupts the formation of stable community.  Migrants spend a lot of time outside their home and have numerous short-term relations.  Thus, labor migration is one of the key factors that drive the HIV epidemic in African region.

Socio-economic stability and armed conflicts in African countries lead to the streams of refugees.  There are several factors which make refugees vulnerable to HIV infection.  In particular, forced migration results in violent conflicts and human rights violations such as sexual violence that makes population (especially women and children) vulnerable to AIDS.  African communities are forced into migration, displacement from the war areas, movement from rural to urban areas, migration of prostitutes to “profitable” places.  All of these politico-economic factors are responsible for the high AIDS incidence in African region (Anarfi, 1993).  That is why migration is an important factor in understanding the spread of AIDS in Africa.  From cultural perspective, in the past, traditions that prohibited premarital sex were effective in preventing AIDS.  Nevertheless, today migrants have become very innovative and create the jobs for themselves whenever the situation demands.  Most of the women, being already disadvantaged and lacking educational background are driven into prostitution which creates a fertile environment for the AIDS spread.

According to the research, HIV/AIDS epidemic is closely related to social, economic, and political conditions within the country.  As Crush has noted, lack of sufficient nutrition caused by poor economic conditions and continuous migration increases susceptibility to infections and exacerbates the effects of HIV by significant weakening the immune system of migrants (2006).  From politico-economic perspective, AIDS strikes the most economically active individuals and its effect is systematic.  Social capital is continuously eroded; young generation is left untrained and unprepared for production.  The indigenous knowledge and biodiversity is irreversibly lost.  According to the research conducted by the Southern African Regional Poverty Network, poverty and AIDS creates a system of chronic impoverishment. 


Order Now
 
 
  Order Now Forgot password?