Bright Lights Grow Fainter

Livelihoods, Migration & a Small Town in Zimbabwe

By Agnes Andersson
December 2002
Almqvist & Wiksell International
ISBN: 91-22-01967-7
206 pages, Illustrated, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2"
$63.00 Paper Original

Small towns are growing in Africa. Located at the interface between the rural and the urban they seem to offer opportunities for households and individuals to combine resources in ways that can keep poor people afloat in the current era of dramatic transformation of their conditions for livelihood. Liberalization and structural adjustment in combination with the disastrous effects of the Aids pandemic have put heavy pressures on the conditions of poorer sections of the population. Major adjustments in livelihood strategies are obviously required. Among these are new patterns of mobility and new provisioning relations which are also bound to lead to changes in the settlement patterns.

This study seeks to establish how the individual migrant uses mobility to negotiate the economic landscape. This involves mobility directed towards small towns to access advantageous provisioning possibilities and also the engagement in a multitude of family linkages from the small town to other places within the settlement system. Substantiated through a case study of Rusape, Zimbabwe, this study suggests that lower living costs, higher food security and a more accessible labor market may be attracting migrants from higher level urban centers. The role of the network of kin relations in mobility is important and migrants' networks over space cover both rural homes and urban areas. The access to networks, however, is being stratified under structural adjustment and the ability to maintain linkages with relatives is declining. This suggests a rising vulnerability connected with inability to leave some places and to enter others.

African Studies; Economics
Studia Latina Stockholmiensia No. 48

Return to Coronet Books main page