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Cause and Consequence of Cross Border Illegal Migration from South Wollo, Ethiopia

Mohammed YA*

Department of Social Sciences, Wolaita Sodo University, Sodo, Ethiopia

Corresponding Author:
Mohammed YA
Department of Social Sciences
Wolaita Sodo University
Sodo, Ethiopia
Tel: 920275116
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: April 19, 2016; Accepted date: May 25, 2016; Published date: May 31, 2016

Citation: Mohammed YA (2016) Cause and Consequence of Cross Border Illegal Migration from South Wollo, Ethiopia. Arts Social Sci J 7:188. doi:10.4172/2151-6200.1000188

Copyright: © 2016 Mohammed YA. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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Developing countries such as Ethiopia the phenomenon of cross border Illegal migration which is mainly triggered by rural 'push' causes than urban 'pull' causes is the main cause of unbalanced rate of population growth and distribution between urban and rural areas in origin and destination states. This situation in turn affects the healthy development of both urban and rural areas. In spite of this fact, not much in known on many of the recent aspects of illegal migration. The present study of migration from Kutaber is mainly concerned with an assessment of the major causes and consequences of cross border illegal migration of people from rural- urban areas to foreign countries mainly to Gulf States. To achieve the objective 120 household heads were selected randomly from three kebeles of the woreda to Schedule interview. Both primary and secondary data were employed and were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Key informant interview and focus group discussions were prepared to generate information about the cause and consequences of illegal migration from Kutaber Woreda. Some of the causes of illegal migration are: land fragmentation, poverty, drought, need to join friends and relatives, income generation, the search for job and urban amenities, un coordinated activity of legal emigration process, and facilities in desired state are the most important. The study shown that the large family size and small land holding exposed to cross border illegal migration. Many of the migrants encountered problems at the initial period of adjustment and adaptation and even while traveling in night forest and coastal areas. While negative side of illegal migration is moral deterioration, Dept crisis, work load on migrant and remaining family, rejection by their families, and the community as they failed to meet expectations to return with adequate material wealth.


Migration; Cause; Consequence; Origin; Destination


The movement of human populations across the planet has characterized human societies throughout history. Together with birth (fertility), death (mortality), migration forms a third fundamental element in determining population growth and structure. Migration is usually defined as the movement of person or group of persons from one geographical unit to another country across an administrative or political border, wishing to settle permanently or temporarily in a place other than the place of origin [1]. Historically, resource scarcity or depletion has induced this movement to migrate. In recent years illegal migration has endangered Ethiopian people’s livelihood and the image of country. Because of the clandestine mode of middle men and few individual, many problems have happened in different parts of the country. This illegal migration is pursued the young generation it as a good chance to them rather than going through the legal one. But the truth is there the legal means give guarantee for those individuals who have migrated abroad. The issue recently has gone from bad to worse. Even here in the initial phase of transportation and to the desired destination, many migrants in our case study area (who are both females and males) have faced the challenges and difficulties. The risk and damage is catastrophic for women especially. Like other parts of the country, movement of people across regional and zonal boundaries is historically a common phenomenon. In this case, the influx of emigrant people to small and big towns and countries is due to economic and other non-economic reasons.

One can identify several causes for the movement of the people in particular from Kutaber woreda and from the Amhara region in general. The motivation for such illegal emigration as stated by International Organization for Migration is the need to join friends and relatives, the search for job and urban amenities and better facilities. Besides to the migration from rural to urban areas, the people have migrated to other countries both legally and illegally. Most problems have happened because of the illegal migration caused with the unholy alliance of illegal Individuals and groups. The state of migration widely varies with both short term and long term implications. But most studies indicate the economic motives as the major driving force behind the recent spate of migration phenomenon from Ethiopia. In addition, the relative improvement of different facilities and better living conditions in the areas compared to the living areas is the main pull factor.

Studies like the IOM-World Migration Report [2] have indicated that chronic lack of rural and urban employment opportunities, rapid increase in population pressure, absence of oxen for many farmers and land fragmentation have been the major forces behind the high migration from Ethiopia. This external migration of the most productive section of the communities that are mostly young better educated and informed which leads to a severe consequence in the rural-urban livelihood and image of country. Even if few migrants gain better living standard and income by this migration, many of the migrants have encountered problems at the initial period of adjustment and adaptation and even during transportation. All these factors have motivated the researcher to undertake this study. Recently the researcher has noticed several such happening or events from different Medias (TV, Radio, newspapers and journals) on the plight of Ethiopian migrants to the gulf region. However, many of them are far below the living standards of the people from the host countries. Another consequence that arises in situations of migration is racism and the unequal treatment of migrants. This is often portrayed as a consequence of migration but is a product not of the process of migration but as the treatment of migrant by host countries. While there is consensus on the benefits of an open trade regime and a relatively liberal capital movement, that consensus rarely extends to free movement of people across countries.

In Ethiopia particularly a very few studies have been undertaken and there is a lack of adequate understanding of the process of illegal migration and its causes and consequences on the migrants and families. It has also spoiled the image of country. The main purpose of the present study is to provide some analysis for policy makers, administrators, and academic institutions and to the concerned people in the woreda and Ethiopia. Indeed the purpose of this study is to investigate the flow pattern and the characteristics of migrants, causes and consequences of the out ward illegal migration by taking Kutaber as a case study. Kutaber is one of the Woreda towns in, South Wollo, Amhara Regional state, Ethiopia that has been experiencing rapid illegal migration to different gulf countries both legally and illegally. But for this study I would especially focus on the cause of illegal migration with its pleasant and unpleasant consequences on Kutaber Woreda.

Statement of the problem

Human beings primarily move to different areas for several reasons. Historical evidences have pointed out that people were forced to move due to war, trade, pilgrimages, drought and famine, development programs, land tenure system, and because of natural and manmade calamities. The destruction of the environment has influenced outmigration decisions either through decreased food production or through decline of an area’s desirability or attractiveness as a residence.

In 2005 Ethiopia had an emigration rate of 0.6 percent, which is low in comparison to Africa as a whole. In Ethiopia, massive movement of people from place to place has been caused by both natural and manmade disasters. Earlier researches have highlighted that landlessness, agricultural policy, land fragmentation, environmental degradation, population pressure, recurrent drought and famine, war and political crises were the major factors responsible for spatial mobility [3]. Keeping in mind the pros and cons of migratory movement of people within and outside the countries territory, it is important to note that the cause of illegal migration should be identified. In the era of globalization, an improved and sophisticated means of transportation and communication are playing a key role in facilitating the interaction of people around the world. As a result, the rate of migration is alarmingly increasing both at national and international level legally and illegally. In developing countries, like Ethiopia the recent increase in illegal migration is more persistent.

This study aims at examining the overall process of illegal migration (i.e., the causes, and consequence) in selected administrative zones of Southern Wollo, Amhara Regional State namely Kutaber woreda. In this woreda the problem is complicated due to the socio economic and political development. Recently many people from woreda have been migrated legally and illegally. The legal means of migration to the Gulf and other countries to some extent is better than that of the illegal one in improving income generation and livelihood of the people. Because this has been conducted through the agreement of labor and social affairs in between two countries. Therefore when the agreement is signed, it gives guarantee in time of emergency for labors that migrate from Ethiopian kebeles. Whereas the illegal migration, beginning from initial period of preparation to the process and end lacks such contract agreement. But some illegal migrant succeed in getting better income. However there is a gap in between legal and illegal migration by its cause and consequence up on the Kutaber Woredas people livelihood.

In Kutaber woreda, one can’t get sufficient studies on the characteristics of migrants, the patterns, causes and consequences of illegal migration. The purpose of this study is, therefore, to investigate the flow pattern and the characteristics of migrants, the causes and consequences of out ward illegal migration by taking Kutaber as a case study. The study mainly emphasized on migrants’ who are gone to Middle East. Kutaber is one of the woreda (district) in the Amhara regional state that has been experiencing rapid population growth, thus motivating a large proportion of people to migrate. It is hoped that this study will contribute to the body of limited and insufficient literature on illegal migration from Kutaber Woreda and in county level generally. It would provide some analysis on the efforts of ruralurban management, the formulation and implementation of rural and urban development policies and programs of the woreda.

General Objectives

The major objective of this study is to examine the causes (as to why people migrate), and consequence of illegal migration from Kutaber woreda, Southern Wollo, Amhara Region.

Specific objectives

• The specific objective of the study includes:

• To investigate the underlying economic and non-economic causes for illegal migration.

• To identify the major differentials and determinants of illegal migration from woreda.

• To explore the positive and negative consequences of illegal migration on migrants’ and their families in the study area.

• To assess the effects of illegal migration with emphasis on the gender dimension.

Review of Related Literature

Concepts and definition of migration

Migration is a multidimensional phenomenon and deals with economic, social and political factors. Basically, it involves localities, which are areas of origin and destination involving either change in residence for short or long periods of time. It is very difficult to define in comprehensive explanatory and analytical framework with regard to migratory processes. It was estimated that by 2010, 10.2 percent of global migrants will hail from Africa [4]. Only three percent of the people from different parts of the world migrate, and around 1.9 percent of Africa’s populations engage in international migration [4]. Recently, there has been a large influx of Ethiopian migrant to the African and Middle East, serving primarily as domestic laborers in private households. This migration and employment in a foreign country has the potential to bring negative and positive prospects for these peoples. Simultaneously, there is also a great risk of exploitation and abuse associated with such migration.

Aina [5] elaborates that migration could literally be taken as the physical movement of people from one geographical area to another by changing residence usually not for less than a year. Migration is difficult to define and measure which involves in a physical transaction within special form of spatial or geographic mobility of human population dealing in movement, a change of residence, a change in the physical and social environment, distance and time. There is no definite criterion or definition as to what constitutes any one of the above elements, especially time and distance. Regardless of the difficulties involved, however, the term migration connotes a form of population movement that takes place when a person changes his/her place of residence either temporarily or permanent basis, though the length of time and distance to be covered is determined rather arbitrarily, and depends on the purpose of the classification and set of criteria used.

In broader terms migration can be divided into two broad groupsinternational migration and internal migration. International migration involves the movement of people across political boundaries to a different country than an area of origin whereas internal migration is the movement of people within the national boundary of a specified country. Internal migration is by far the most important factor responsible for major demographic changes in Africa. Based on the direction of movement internal migration can be further divided into rural-rural, rural-urban, urban-rural and urban-urban. In addition migration can be legal/regular or illegal/irregular. It is useful to differentiate migrants on the basis of the (intended) length of their stay, as follows.

Long-term migration-Examples of people in this category include:

• Labor migrants (these can be either high-skilled or low-skilled workers who seek permanent employment elsewhere).

• Professional, business or investor migrants (e.g., individuals in specific professions, or those who invest or establish businesses in a receiving country).

• Forced migrants (e.g., political or religious refugees and asylum seekers).

Temporary Migration-Examples of people in this category include:

• Labor migrants (e.g., seasonal migrants, laborers on temporary working visas, or commuter migrants).

• Professional and business migrants (e.g., diplomats and other business migrants, religious migrants).

• Student and scholar migrants (e.g., degree-seeking students, shortterm students, and exchange scholars) [6].

They are of many types and include movements of nomads as well as those of agriculturalists and other peoples and traders. These movements can be seasonal, long term or permanent based on the purpose of migration. In many cases, migration is not just a once or all move. Rather there are series of moves over a lifetime. The movement of people can be broadly defined as temporary, semi-permanent or permanent change of location. From the definition, no restriction is made on the distance to move or its duration and no distinction is made between movements within a country and among countries.

On the other hand, migrants may enter countries illegally using the help of smugglers. Smugglers act as extra-legal travel agents-hiding people in trucks for example, or supplying false passports, or bribing immigration officials. This is a dangerous, but usually very profitable, business. Trafficking is also another way which is somehow related but different from smuggling, though there is often some overlap and the perpetrators may be the same people. An important issue that comes up in the process of migration is the issue of assimilation, adaptation and acculturation of migrants in their destination areas. Migrant workers are usually engaged in unskilled works which are not preferred by the native workers of the host country. Similarly, those who are not recognized legally by the government of the host country take up secondary jobs not taken by most native workers. Another issue to be raised in the assimilation process is the interaction between migrants and the native people. To understand this relationship, it is important to identify the way immigrants are treated by the host society and the government. Migrants assimilate to the value structure of the new societies at a different degree. Usually this difference is attributed to the difference in perception to the desirability of the new culture and values.

Migrants are defined as those who have moved at least once in their lifetime from a given geographical region or from the place in which they were born to any other part of the country, in order to make a living for a substantial period of time. Analysis of migration patterns based on 1984 Census data indicates substantial regional variation in net loss or gain of population through migration. The regions that had experienced a net loss through migration in the years before the 1984 Census were Wello followed by Tigeray and Gonder. These constitute the northern provinces of Ethiopia.

Africa union agreed on Joint Africa-Eu Declaration on Migration and Development to finding concrete solutions to the problems posed by illegal or irregular migratory flows by regulating the influxes of migrants from Africa within the context of genuine partnership that ensures the eradication of poverty, unemployment and diseases thereby achieving comprehensive and sustainable development. Ethiopia is a country of origin, transit and destination for international migration. While outward migration from Ethiopia includes voluntary, involuntary and forced migration, inward migration largely consists of refugees. Centrally located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has developed into a major transit point or “migration hub” along the Eastern African migration routes both for transit migration and irregular migration movements. The process of migration from, Addis Ababa is said to be a hub on two land routes of which one leads from the Horn of Africa via Sudan, Chad and Libya to the Mediterranean Sea and the other through Somalia to Yemen across the Gulf of Aden. Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport is also reported to be a hub of transit and irregular migration on the air route leading to Europe, including irregular migration flows from Asia transiting through Africa.

Theoretical Review

The human capital (neo-classical) theory

For the human capital theory, migration occurs as a result of individuals’ attempt to maximize their life time income by relocating to a new place. In doing so, they make a cost benefit analysis and decide to migrate if their expected discounted net-benefit from migration is positive. More specifically, they compare the net-benefit from higher wage at the destination with the associated cost of relocation. As such, migration is considered as an investment to get higher income in the future [7,8]. The Harris-Todaro model [9,10] is an example of the human capital model where difference in expected earnings between urban and rural areas is the driving force for migration.

Differences in individual characteristics lead to differences in expected benefit and cost of migration. Hence, migration could be beneficial for some and not for others. It is believed that those who are younger, more educated, singles, and males are more likely to migrate as they are expected to extract the highest benefit from migration and/or their cost of migration is supposed to be lower [11,12]. Despite the fact that the human capital theory has been very popular, it is now well accepted that it has serious limitations. It abstracts from other important factors of migration other than wage difference and implicitly assumes that markets, most notably credit and insurance markets are perfect. Furthermore, like any neo-classical model it assumes that the decision to migrate is made at individual level with no role given to the family [13].

The New Economics of Labor Migration (NELM)

The NELM is developed to overcome the weaknesses of the human capital model mentioned above. It shifts the decision unit from the individual to the family. It is the family who decides whether an individual should migrate or not in such a way that the family objective function is maximized. Not only does the NELM change the unit of analysis from the individual to the household, it also brings about new motives for migration other than maximizing income. Among other things, households want to minimize risk by diversifying their source of income. To this end, they send some member of the household to another place where income is not correlated or negatively correlated with income at the origin. Hence, the migrant member will support the family during bad times (like crop failure) while the family covers her migration cost and also supports her during bad economic conditions at the destination [14-16]. The NELM also puts the issue of migration in a broader context and posits that households care about their relative position (deprivation) in their community. i.e., they send members to another place to improve their relative position in the community [17-20]. Though the NELM model has many noble contributions for the understanding of migration it is also criticized for totally ignoring the role of individuals in the migration process. While the situation of the household might affect the likelihood of individuals’ migration, it is also worth noting that the individual can have an important role in the decision to migrate [21].

The social capital (Network) theory

For the social capital theory migration is caused by social networks between the place of origin and the destination. Migration networks are considered as a social capital where members of the network have the right to get information and other supports that makes migration more beneficial by increasing the gains and lowering the costs. Friends and relatives at destination serve as sources of information about the opportunities, risks and challenges associated with migration. They also help new migrants to settle in easily by offering housing and other supports. Furthermore, the presence of friends or relatives at destination makes the psychic cost of moving to a new place lower. Thus, migration becomes more attractive for individual with networks at destination. Networks could also be at a higher level like community. Individuals from communities that are strongly connected with the destination have easy access to information and will get support after they migrated [22-24].

Networks at different level are important for any type of migration and more so when more uncertainties and difficulties are involved. Thus, the importance of networks is higher for cross-border migration than for migration within one country like rural-urban migration. Even for international migration, social network is more important if migration is illegal and involves higher risk.

Causes of illegal migration

Central to the understanding of illegal migration flow is the traditional push-pull causes. “Push factor” refers to circumstances at home that repel; examples include famine, drought, low agricultural productivity, unemployment etc. while “pull factor refers to those conditions found elsewhere (abroad) that attract migrants. There are many factors that cause the dependent variable (illegal migration) which are independent variables including push- pull factors.

Most analyses of attitudes towards international migration and migrants have focused on the destination end of the process and, thus, upon immigration. However, migration also has profound impacts on sending countries and their populations. Emigration has become an issue of increasing significance, not only because of its increasing scale but also because of the increasing evidence of its impact on development in recent years.

The causes of illegal migration differ from individual to individual and from community to community. If someone asks, why people migrate out of their origin in favor of places that are not familiar? The reasons will vary with causes found in such diverse factors as ecological pressure, economic incentives, psychological motivation, politics situations etc. Africa has extremely accelerating population growth which influences both for internal and external migration due to the population pressure in connection to this Hance [25] identified areas suffering from population pressure and some indicators are : poverty, soil deterioration, degradation or outright destruction, Use of excessively steep slopes and other marginal lands, Declining crop yields, Changing crop emphases, Breakdown of the indigenous farming system, Food shortages, hunger, and malnutrition, Land fragmentation, disputes over land, landlessness, bad traditional cultures. Rural indebtedness/inability to return debt in time of climate change.

Household decision-making is mostly common for predicting illegal migration in less developed societies because they expect short-term migration, circulation and the common practice of remitting income home. Awareness of different ways in which migration and the flow of remittances bring or fail to achieve benefits of development programs and can provide a new perspective on development difficulties and lead to new direction options. Social, economic and non-economic causes are many and varied within countries that include defeat in war, a desire for material gain or food, the search for political or religious freedom etc. Migration takes place when the benefits of migration are assessed by the migrants’ interims of comparative advantages.

The other basic reason for migration is that urban areas in destination area are relatively confers of power and privilege. Hence, people migrate from their home land areas for the demand of better necessities and due to the attractiveness of facilities and concentration of resources in the cities. These facilities and resources pull the migrants to abandon the countryside for the towns legally and illegally. The main notion of pull and push factor studies refer the causes of migration in relation to economic imbalance.

One can take into account the inefficiencies of markets in many developing settings, eventually placed the push-pull factor. Rather than producing adjustment and equilibrium, migration has spurred the growth of the informal sector as rural origin persons settled, at least temporarily, for wages and employment chances below the hoped for formal sector offering [26]. Basically when the information from the departed family or neighbor is relatively better, the migratory movement spreads and many more individuals follow for no other reason than the fellow feelings which unite families or friends to leave the original area and there may be an enthusiasm for something new for new tasks to undertake as sentiment which animates many of those who venture to migrate. There is a pioneer spirit which seeks not only a higher living standards but also difficulties to conquer, natural obstacles to overcome the situation of the new environments.

The world is changing at an unprecedented speed, challenging societies to react with adaptability and creativity. Migration is one of the ways in which the exchange of talent, services, skills and a diversity of experience is achieved. Yet migration remains politically sensitive and often publicly misunderstood, in contradiction to the way our societies and economies are evolving. Recent events in Norway and elsewhere over the past two decades only serve to reinforce the need for the international community to urgently address the issue by promoting an informed, open and honest debate on matters of concern to all migrants whether immigrants, emigrants or returnees – and to the societies of origin and destination with which the migrants interact.

Legal versus illegal migration

Over the last few years news of young Ethiopian men and women found dead inside jam-packed containers loaded on heavy duty trucks has become a routine media exercise both locally and in many part of the continent. Most of the time the victims in these horrific stories are Eritreans and Somalis at other times it involves an entire truck -load of Ethiopians. All die while trying to cross borders in their attempts to go to countries like Middle East and southern Africa. But the option of most illegal migrants from kutaber, South Wollo are trying to cross and traveled illegally were to the middle east as the communication bureau stated.

Modern internal and external labor migration is of recent origin and has various dimensions in Africa and in Ethiopia in particular. Most migrant from Africa are illegal migrant. In 2006 this illegal migration incurred 5-7billion $ profit next to drug trafficking and Firearms trafficking. This is true for south wollo and Ethiopia in general. The study of ILO revealed that among the workers in Middle East, 76.7% are Ethiopian who are legal and illegal. For instance among the 14,000 Ethiopian immigrant in Lebanon only 5533 were legal immigrant through agency and the rest are illegal immigrants as labor and social affair bureau of south wollo reported. It is particularly characterized by the movement of people from densely populated areas of subsistence economy to places that can provide viable opportunities of sustaining a living. According to the Ethiopian government views legal external migration as the process undertaken by public employment service and private employment agencies, which are registered by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs [27], and are subject to the rules and regulations set forth by the government. Illegal migration abroad, on the other hand, is carried out by illegal private employment agencies or traffickers. In 2005, MoLSA gave working license to 24 legally registered private employment agencies. In the period 2004-2006, the number of Ethiopian work migrants who left the country for the Middle East through legal channels was 57,084. Of this figure, women constituted 98.6% [28]. However, it is difficult to determine the exact number of total work migrants from Ethiopia in the period, as many women organize work migration illegally, and MoLSA registers only those who use public employment service and legal employment agencies [29].

Even if peoples from Ethiopia and particularly kutaber woreda, are endangered to this problem. According to the south wollo labor and social affair bureau by 2012, 2355 illegal migrant were captured by police returned and to their families, with related to this 40 illegal agents were captured by police and charged as illegal agents who endanger migrants for challenges. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) is responsible for the issuance of work permits to foreigners and the regulation of provision of foreign employment services to Ethiopians, whereas the Main Immigration Department issues permits for residence and stay. The Private Employment Agency Proclamation stipulates that all Ethiopians wishing to work abroad must do so via a private employment agency. The proclamation includes provisions on the conditions and validity of the agency license, lawful behavior, and prohibition to ask fees from jobseekers, deposit for the purpose of protecting the migrant’s worker’s rights, reporting obligation on the situation of the worker abroad and penal sanctions. The Proclamation regulating the issuance of Travel Documents and Visas, and Registration of Foreigners in Ethiopia includes a special provision with regard to the prevention of health risks for migrant workers: No foreigner is to enter or exit the county without first presenting a valid international health certificate. However the East African Migration Route Imitative identified main obstacles to efficient migration management from and in Ethiopia are: A lack of financial resources, a lack of human resources discrepancy between the central and the regional level caused by poor transport and communication infrastructure, Limited regional and bilateral cooperation in the area of migration.

According IOM special liaison mission/Addis Abebba the geopolitical and socio-economic conditions dictate the migration dynamics of the country causing movements of people from, through and within Ethiopia. Many Ethiopians in pursuit of a better life end up stranded in transit and destination countries having been given false promises of lucrative jobs by their traffickers and smugglers. Ethiopia is a source country for thousands of irregular migrants leaving their villages in search of better opportunities elsewhere, including South Africa. Most of these group migrants have little information on the risk associated with illegal migration.

The problems faced by illegal migrant migrants usually begin in their home countries, especially through unethical practices by illegal brokers and private employment agencies. Migrant workers end up in exploitative working condition due to a lack of accurate information on the living and working conditions in receiving countries. In Ethiopia, Article 12(2)b of the Private Employment Agency Proclamation states that agents have the duty to provide the necessary orientation for the workers regarding their work and the country of employment before the contract of employment is signed. However, as returning migrants have indicated, agencies do not properly communicate the real working conditions for fear of losing business, so they paint an idealized picture which encourages workers to migrate.

The problems faced by migrants especially women usually begin in their home countries, especially through unethical practices by illegal brokers and private employment agencies. Migrant workers end up in exploitative working condition due to a lack of accurate information on the living and working conditions in receiving countries. In Ethiopia, Article 12(2)b of the Private Employment Agency Proclamation states that agents have the duty to provide the necessary orientation for the workers regarding their work and the country of employment before the contract of employment is signed. However, as returning migrants have indicated, agencies do not properly communicate the real working conditions for fear of losing business, so they paint an idealized picture which encourages workers to migrate.

Although there are legal private employment agencies in Ethiopia, migrant still use illegal channels due to the quick service rendered by these brokers. On the other hand, migrants state that they have to wait a long time to get employed through the legal employment agencies. The problem with such illegal migration is that workers are expected to pay high fees and, since most of them cannot afford the payment, it generally causes them to enter in to debt.

A recent study conducted by IOM, in Pursuit of the Southern Dream, indicated 17,000-20,000 male irregular migrants are smuggled every year from the Horn of Africa and East Africa. Some never reach their final destination. Furthermore, the study revealed the smuggling of Ethiopians as well as Somalis to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) generates USD34 million to USD40 million to the criminal network which excluding additional fees being paid along the way. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs of Tanzania, the country had over 1,640 irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa (1,130 Ethiopians and 514 Somalis) in 2009. The migrants were intercepted while trying to cross border. A play on the pitfalls and dangers of irregular/illegal migration toured in the rural areas of the Amhara Regional zones, which stretches in an arc from eastern to southwestern Ethiopia. Every year, thousands of young people from drought affected areas engage in perilous journeys across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and beyond, while others are smuggled to Tanzania via Kenya en route to South Africa, Europe and increasingly, to South and Central America(IOM SLM/ Addis Abebba). This area, bordering on the highlands, has experienced successive failures of the Belg (short rains ending in May) and Meher (long rains, which start in late July) in the past few years, resulting in low crop yields in some parts and near-crop failure in others. This initiative is part of a broader regional project implemented in Kenya, Somaliland, Punt land, Yemen and Ethiopia, which is funded through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

From south wollo town and city administrations, Kelala, kutaber, liguama, Akesta, jamma, borena, mekane-selam, wogdi, wore’Ilu, bistima, bokeksa and kombolcha are the main/initial source of migrant. These illegal migrant traveled and collected through coastal areas like Kalu woreda harbu, worebabo, gerba, bistima, wuchale used as route to cross. In addition Dessie and Kombolch towns are the place of association for all migrants from different regions to cross the above routes. According to the woreda Islamic affair council and police report. Some emigrants use the umra and the hajj as a pretext to go to Saudi Arabia and move from there to other Arab countries, even when they are not Muslim.

Problem of illegal migrants during transportation and in destination countries

When considering the multiple ways in which humanitarian crises and migration interact, the situation of international migrants caught in crises in their destination or transit countries has been somewhat overlooked by policymakers and practitioners from both the migration and the humanitarian communities. Nonnationals, especially migrant workers and their families, have often remained invisible and have thus not been accounted for in humanitarian response mechanisms. At the same time, few migration policy frameworks anticipate the possibility that migrants may end up stranded in conflicts or natural disasters in their countries of destination or transit. However, given the growing number of migrants around the world-214 million international migrants according to latest estimates-the consequences of crises for migrant populations will likely be a significant feature of future crises and need to be factored into humanitarian response frameworks.

When countries of destination or transit experience political turmoil, conflict or natural disasters, their migrant populations often have few means to escape and ensure their own safety. Risks and vulnerabilities are exacerbated when migrants are in an irregular situation, or when countries of origin lack the resources, capacity and access to protect and assist their nationals abroad. Some migrants may be unable or unwilling to leave the crisis zone, while others may be forced to cross borders into neighboring countries. As a result, repercussions may be felt regionally and beyond. Ultimately, migrants may escape crises by returning or being evacuated to their countries of origin, but challenges do not end there: countries of origin often struggle to receive and reintegrate large numbers of returnees, while the sudden loss of remittances leaves their families and home communities without income.

Gender Dimension of Illegal Migration on South Wollo and Ethiopia

In Ethiopia though both men and women equally share prevailing problems associated with poverty, women seem to be more severely affected due to various reasons. Due to patriarchal cultures, women in south wollo and in Ethiopia in general formerly have very limited access to resources, education, and training opportunities, particularly in rural areas. Hence, they are mostly unemployed or have limited participation in the formal economy. Due to these barriers, which inhibit women’s participation in the formal economy, the only viable alternative means of earning income lies in joining the informal labor market? With the feminization of poverty and high unemployment rate in the country, it is not surprising that women migrate to foreign countries as domestic workers. Hence, the pervading poverty is responsible for the growing tide of illegal migration.

According to south wollo labor and social affair bureau, women were motivated to go as migrant laborers by lack of employment and other livelihood alternatives in their home country, expectation of better pay in the country of destination, lobbies by brokers and some success stories of women who had gone before them, and low family income. These women experienced overwork, denial and/or delay of salary payment, lack of medication and food, confinement, attempted and actual sexual attacks, emotional and physical abuse, insult and degrading attitude, fear, disappointment and frustration. They received poor legal service and less support, and at times maltreatment by brokers, agencies, embassies and the police. They tried to cope with the situation using their own personal skills of assertiveness and sometimes aggression, friendship networks and spirituality.

Parallel to the above idea the ILO special Liaison office, identified main forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse that women migrant workers may face in the destination countries are: Violation of employment contract, or no contracts, Poor working and living conditions, Limited freedom of movement, Harassment and violence, Health and safety risks and lack of social protection, Forced labor and debt bondage are some of them.

Consequences of Illegal Migration

The consequences of Migration are possibly diverse. Migration has significant influence on the population size of both receiving and sending regions. This also include impact on population composition, economic productivity income inequality, access to social services, family and kinship structure, social roles as well as values and image of country. Migrations of whatever cause have impacts in the place of origin and destination on the type of migration in receiving or losing while little is known about the potentially important impacts. Beyene [13] quoted from Essang and Maba Wonku studies on merit and demerit of migration to origin and destinations in Nigeria conclude the following notions regarding land/man ratio as migrant families out of agriculture are relatively more beneficiaries than families of none migrant members because their children have not migrated.

Migration may have direct impact on saving and wealth receiving and sending areas while it is a complex task because migrants return home after a period with certain savings and material possessions difficult to measure the overall outcomes. A part from the impact of migration on increased wealth, it also has impacts on productivity of a given area. Migrants take with them labor force and can learn technical knowledge. In cases when migrants return they may bring with better technical knowledge than they had when they departed. The changes in the technology of communication and transportation have made it easier for migrants to communicate and stay in touch with their origin communities. This is more than maintaining simple social ties. The tightness and stability of these connections can reinforce the implicit contracts that generate sharing of resources across locations and most notably these are remittances.

Migration has also an impact on demographic process which links rural to urban areas generating or spurring the growth of cities. It can generate a series of concerns, including worries about environmental stress and social adaptation of the migrants themselves. Urbanization is connected with a variety of policies, spanning demographic economic and environmental concerns. Growing of cities is often seen as the agents of environmental pollution and urbanization can place stress on the land through sprawl; coincident industrial development may threaten air and water quality [26].

Household and country level effects

In many developing countries, movement is a household strategy aimed at improving not only the mover’s prospects but those of the extended overcoming barriers like human mobility and development of extended family. As mentioned by ILO, the positive side of effect on household is high income generation and technical knowhow are mostly expressed. In return for supporting the move, the family can expect financial remittances when the migrant is well established. These transfers can in turn be used to finance major investments, as well as immediate consumption needs.

Despite these financial rewards, separation is typically a painful decision incurring high emotional costs for both the mover and those left behind. The fact that so many parents, spouses and partners are willing to incur these costs gives an idea of just how large they must perceive the rewards to be. Financial remittances are vital in improving the livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries like Ethiopia. Many empirical studies have confirmed the positive contribution of international remittances to household welfare, nutrition, food, health and living conditions in places of origin. Another effect of Migration is, having profound consequences for social, class and ethnic hierarchies in origin communities if lower status groups gain access to substantially higher income streams. However in Ethiopia recently the illegal migration has built negative image up the country when discrimination and death occurred.

Gender dimensions in migration are important with significant migration of women particularly from the North like from wollo, due to socio-cultural conditions - early marriage, divorce, death of husband, limited access to land, failure in education, in the case of Hajji and Ummra, drought etc. Decision-Making in Migration strategies are influenced by the experiences of migrants who have kept in touch with their kin and friends in the rural areas and returnees or visitors from town.

Positive consequence of illegal migration

Migration (both legal and illegal) has contributions to the country domestic workers and the overall development of their country, in general, and their families and themselves, in particular.

Remittances are among the most easily discernible effects of migration. Since Ethiopian migrants remit their earnings both through official and non-official means, it is difficult to compile accurate data on the amount they send into their home country. But, for example, according to data gathered from the National Bank of Ethiopia, private official remittances in year 2007-08 amounted to 804 million dollars, and most remitters sent this money to support their families. Remittances which are based on social networks play an important role in alleviating extreme poverty in developing countries; and through their contribution women migrants’ act as agents of change in their countries of origin. Although there is little research revealing the exact impact of remittances on the Ethiopian economy, literature in general supports that remittances have positive effects on the economies of sending states. The report of the Global Commission on International Migration emphasized that international migration should become an integral part of the national, regional, and global strategies for economic growth in developing countries.

However, other scholars question the long term contribution of remittances to human development. Some research indicates that in the long term, remittances may not contribute significantly to human development, despite the fact that they significantly contribute to the GDP of countries. They strengthen their argument by mentioning the failure of small businesses funded by remittances due to lack of technical assistance or sustained funds and also the spending of most remittances on consumer items. In general migrant may gain economic independence, confidence, and greater freedom through migration; and, in rare situations, fathers take on new gender roles and take care of their children. However, as some scholars have noted, international migration is only going to empower women if they are documented migrants, and if these women are not live-in domestic workers. Hence, it is very difficult for me to conclude that Ethiopian migrants spatially women domestic workers in the foreign countries are actually being empowered, since most of them are live-in workers and a substantial number of them are illegal migrants. In general, illegal migration in Ethiopia and kutaber woreda takes place in response to both “push” and “pull” factors. However, illegal migration expected to have considerable impacts at the area of origin and destination in different area (Figure 1).

The conceptual frame work of the study


Figure 1: The conceptual frame work for analysis of illegal migration.

Description of the Study Area and Research Methodology

In this section, an attempt is made to briefly describe the study area. A Summary of presentation of the geographical location, population and socio cultural, Economic and historical contexts of the study area are given with the view that the thematic analysis of causes and consequences of illegal migration from Kutaber will be meaningful.

Geographical location

South Wollo is one of the ten Zones and a special woreda in the Amhara Region in Ethiopia and found 11°8' N 39°38' E. It is bordered on the south by North Shewa and the Oromia zone, on the west by West Gojjam, on the northwest by South Gondar, on the north by North Wello and on the east by the Afar Region. Towns in South Wello include Kombolcha, Hayq, Dessie, and Wuchale among others. The Weredas found in the zone include: Borena, Ambassel, Dessie Zuria, Jama, Kalu, Kelala, Kombolcha, Kutaber, Legambo, Magdala, Sayint, Tehuledere, Tenta, Wegde, Werebabu, Wereilu, legehida, Albuko, Delanta and other newly formed woreds. South Wello has been heavily cultivated for a long period. Most population lives in the central highlands. Usually, it gets very cold in winter nights. Because of the increase of the population, the land has been divided and subdivided and farmers try to grow as much as they can on their tiny patch of land. They grow wheat, and barley at higher altitudes. A local type of grain like teff, wheat, barley, corn, sorghum and other oilseeds are popular as the communication affair of midia development and study main department expressed. These facts, in particular, are common in in kutaber wereda.

There are barely any forests left in Wello. Forest covers only about 1% of Wollo's land area and just 3% in Ethiopia as a whole. The unreliable belg', a series of small rain showers, is depended on by the farmers between February and April. As is known, the area is exposed for manmade and natural disasters. Devastating famines have claimed so many lives in the area. The South Wollo Meher-Belg livelihood zone is one of the chronically food insecure areas in the Amhara Region. It is characterized by dry woyna dega conditions and very unreliable rainfall, infertile soil, erratic rains and crop pest infestations, and a relatively dense population with small land holdings, together making for chronic food shortages. On the other hand, favorable conditions for livestock, especially grazing for cattle in some parts, and chat production bring money into the economy where food crop sales are relatively modest. Proximity to the main north-south highway to Dessie and Addis Ababa also gives marked advantages in market access and product prices. Paid work and Safety Net receipts contribute the highest proportions of cash income for the poor and very poor. Partial reliance on Safety Net of the middle households is an indication of the level food insecurity in this zone. Pest infestation and livestock diseases are the hazards that have negative impact the livelihoods of the communities and improvement of veterinary and extension services including improved access to pesticides are development priorities. Nevertheless, whilst purchased grain always constitutes by far the highest proportion the annual food consumption by very poor households, in a good year own crop production is the major source of food for the poor as well as the better off and middle households. The area is overpopulated and exposed to recurring famine. Hence, these and other factors initiate the illegal migration recently at high number.

According to south wollo finance and economic development department report there are 23 wordas in zone. Among those, Kutaber is the name and town of the woreda. The woreda comprise of rural and one urban kebele. It far 20 kms from Dessie, 500 kms from Bahirdar, and 420 kms from Addis Abbeba. The woreda is organized in twenty one kebeles and bordered by Anbasel in north, by Tehuledere woreda to the east, Dessie zuria to the south and Tenta to the west direction. It located at 39090’-3937 E and 11000’-110 27’ N. The economy is based on crop production but livestock rearing has a special importance amongst farmers.

According to Woreda Agriculture and Rural Development report, Crop production is highly dependent on rainfall and the main rain is received in the kremt (July-September). On average the area receives the relatively lowest rainfall of all the livelihood zones in Amhara, with a long-term mean of 726 mm per annum. But it is the frequency of irregular precipitation and rain shortage that helps to make the woreda chronically food insecure. The soil is sandy, sandy clay and sandy loam with moderate fertility. The main cereals grown are sorghum, teff, chickpea and maize, and vetch is the main pulse. Land preparation is done by oxen plough. Men do the plowing while both men and women participate in weeding and harvesting. Important inputs in this woreda are home-produced compost as fertilizer and improved maize seed from households and BOARD. As in other areas stalk borer, bollworm and grasshoppers are the main crop pests affecting the cereals.

As the government communication bureau in kutaber woreda stated, shortage of rain, crop pest, livestock disease and localized flooding are the major hazards affecting the crop and livestock on a yearly basis. High staple food prices will also impact on poorer households. The sale of more livestock and labor sale of more fire wood and increasing remittances from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Dubai and Djibouti are the main coping strategies employed by the households of different kebeles. The main economy of the Livelihood Zone is crop production supported by livestock rearing (sheep, cattle and goat). It is a chronically food insecure area. Sheep are sold to get cash income. Eucalyptus tree sales, petty trading (including buying, fattening and selling sheep), local and migratory labor are key income generating activities. The Productive Safety net program (PSNP) and household credit package are also available in the area (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Map of the study area


Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia, in 2007, the South Wollo zone has an estimated total population of 2,942,886 of which 1,446, 752 are males and 1,496,134 are females; 366,095 or 12.4% of its population are urban dwellers.

With an estimated area of 16,956.06 square kilometers, South Wollo has an estimated population density of 173.56 people per square kilometer. The average rural household has 0.7 hectare of land (compared to the national average of 1.01 hectare of land and an average of 0.75 for the Amhara Region) and the equivalent of 0.6 heads of livestock. 10.6% of the population is in nonfarm related jobs, compared to the national average of 25% and a regional average of 21%.

Based on 2007 figures from the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia, the Kutaber woreda total population was estimated to be 95,385 of whom 47,328 are male, whereas 48,057 are females.

The population density of kutaber woreda by 2000 E.C were1:38, which means, 38 peoples live in one hectare of land and in 2004 E.C, 1:7 which means 7 peoples live in one hectare of land.

As the most key informants and officials informed the researcher that, the recent density diminished because of the high rate of emigration (legally and illegally).

Socio-cultural, economic and historical contexts

Famines have occurred in south wollo in 1962/3 and 1972-74. Another world famous famine was in 1984/5, in which an estimated one million people died in Wollo. There are still the problems of increasingly smaller farms, less tree cover, more erosion and land exhaustion according to my discussion with the informants (Table 1).

Year Town and Rural Town Rural
  m f Total m f Total m f Total
2000 47328 48057 95385 2577 2474 5051 44751 45583 90334
2001 48911 49662 98572 2688 2684 5372 46225 46975 93200
2002 49724 50487 100211 2803 2799 5602 46921 47687 94609
2003 50554 51327 101881 2923 2919 5842 47631 48408 94039
2004 51399 52184 103583 3048 3045 6093 48351 48140 97491
Source: South Wollo Finance and Economy Development department

Table 1: Population of kutaber woreda from 2000 - 2004 E.C.

According to the government communication bureau, Kutaber town was first established in 1939 EC. on an estimated area of 598 hectare or 5,960,000 m3. Before the establishment kutaber was called “Metalober”, which is named by the river near to the town.However the name was continued until 1937 and changed the name to Kutaber. The name was given because once up on a time the female relative of Dejazmach Belay Ali, who was the administrator during that time, came to Metalober. Therefore when she came to the Metalober the environment was windy and the wind takes her Kuta. Then she said for Dejazmach by surprise, your country wind takes my kuta. Though begin from this legend the town was takes the name from the local white cloth made from cutton called Kuta to Kutaber. In general kutaber was used as the woreda center for neighboring kebeles begin from 1939 and for the first time when it became woreda center, Dejazach Belay Ali was the first Administrator. In addition Kutaber was under the Dessie Zuria Awuraja (Administration), which was administered by Dejazmach Zewudu Biru. The mountain near the town has been remembered as a historical place, which served as place of administration for Atse Yikono Amlak in 13th century in special place called Mehonegna. The woreda also used as the passing route to reach the historical religious place called ‘Gishen Debre Kerbe’, which is celebrated on September 29 in the place (Table 2 and Figure 3).


Figure 3: Population growth of Kutaber Woreda from 2000-2004E.

Year Woreda total population Area of woreda Population Density in one (1) hectare
2000 96964 70071 138
2001 98572 70071 14
2002 100211 70071 14
2003 101881 70071 15
2004 103583 70071 16
Source South Wollo Finance and Economy Development Department.

Table 2: Population density of Kutaber from 2000-2004 E.C.

The government supports a threefold strategy of improving food aid, increasing agricultural inputs, and diversification through agroindustry according to Woreda officials. Critics say that the land division results in plots too small for a household to survive on. For some people, the re-divisions of land mean that peasants feel insecure about keeping their plot so they do not invest as much in it, and that is an artificial block to migration because everyone wants to hold onto their piece of land because it is all they have.

In different woreda kebeles Sheep, goat, ox, cow and chicken are slaughtered at least three times in a year during the main holidays in September (New Year), January (Christmas/Epiphany), April (Easter) and by Muslims at Eid ul Adha and Eid ul Fitr which shift each year. Most of the livestock are kept by children and men; women manage chickens around the homestead. Anthrax, black leg, sheep and goat pox, African horse sickness, pasteurellosis, and internal and external parasites are the major afflictions of livestock. Livestock are free-grazed on communal land and cattle are further fed on crop residues.

Grasses and crop residues may be purchased locally in September and January. Common livestock diseases are: black leg and anthrax. Paid work is important for the poorer wealth groups, but local agricultural and town employment is limited, offering less than half of the employment sought. Thus households also depend on a member going for migrant labor in Afar Region (Asayita, and Dubti irrigation schemes), Oromia Region (Nazareth and Arsi the western coffee harvest), and the Metemma and Humera sesame and cotton harvest in the far north-west of Amhara and to the Middle East countries at larger number. Sale of eucalyptus trees for construction and firewood brings money to all households, but particularly too much for the wealthier.

According to BOARD, The consumption year runs from November to October. There is one harvest, meher, using the inconsistent kremt rains. Sowing is in June and July and harvesting extends from November to January. Regarding livestock, cattle births take place in May-June and cows are usually milked for six months (August- January). There is no tradition of milking sheep or goats (‘shoats’). The livestock sales for slaughter, particularly shoats, peak before festivals. The main labor migration is from November to March and August to September. Households start to purchase food in May when they have exhausted their own harvest stocks, and continue until the beginning of the main harvest. The Safety Net programme public works are January to June, a relatively loose time in terms of the agricultural work burden.

According to the health bureau of kutaber woreda, upper respiration tract infection, parasites and Gastritis are major identified health problems. To treat this problem the woreda in 2004 have 5 healths’s station and serves one of it to 2500 peoples. The woreda also have 18 health centers and one health center serves for 5000 peoples. Indeed one nurse serves for 3519 peoples. Even if the woreda have investment opportunity, still there is no registered investor who employs the excess labor force.

Research Methodology

The study was based on data obtained from primary and secondary sources. The techniques used to gather information include interview schedule, Key informant interview, focus group discussion and survey of available documents. The interview schedule questionnaires were distributed among residents of the household heads. The sources of secondary data were reports and documents from study area, zonal, national and others parts included in the study.

Data source

For the successful completion of the study both primary and secondary sources of data have been employed. The prime data for this study was generated from primary sources through the use of checklists for, Key Informant Interview (KII) and Focus Group Discussion (FGD), and interview schedule for households’ heads. The data was Quantitative and qualitative. Though the Primary data gathered from 120 households using an interview schedule by trained three Enumerators. The secondary sources of data in the study was books, research papers, journals, articles, the target area (kutaber woreda ) brushers, documents and, various valuable information (both documented or undocumented).

Studies on migration face some methodological limitations. If migration study is conducted at destination areas, data can be collected only from immigrants and non-migrants in the areas where others have moved. If the study is conducted in migrant areas of origin, data can be collected only from families and relatives left at home and returnees. This will limit the representation of the information and make conclusions to be based on unilaterally obtained data. To avoid this limitation in this particular research, data were collected from both rural and urban areas.

Sample Procedure and Sampling Techniques

Among 21 kebeles, from kutaber woreda for the purpose of the study the researcher were selected three kebeles and some persons will be selected out of each kebele for schedule interview, key informant interview (KII) and focus group discussion. The researcher selected kutaber zuria kebele, Barkana kebele and Meskela kebele for the study by purposive sampling. The process of sampling started with the listing out of all kebeles in woreda and selecting the sampled kebeles. As per our informal discussion with the official of woreda social affairs and other organs, three out of the twenty one kebeles in woreda was taken as sample.

To begin with, the sample size required and the procedure to be followed in any study is determined by the objective of the study, the resource available, types of the study, variability of the characteristics to be measured, the precision required, and the required confidence that the precision is valid.

In this study the researcher selected total sample size of 120 respondents. So the researcher used probability proportional to size (PPS). Therefore for interview the researcher selected respondent households from three selected kebeles below by using simple random sampling. Accordingly, from kutaber zuria kebele total population 4100 and 750 are households, from barkana’s total population of 3100, 630 are households and from meskela 3000 population 450 are households who are my target population as listed in the Table 3.

Name of Kebele Total population Total Household Samples taken %
Kutaber zuria 4100 750 49 40.8
Barkana 3100 630 41 34.1
Meskela 3000 450 30 25
Total 10, 200 1830 120 100
Source:Administrative Bureau of Kutaber woreda (2000)

Table 3: Sampling table.

The key informant interview was administered to 10 selected informants from different individuals in woreda. The informants have been selected in consultation with the staff of the Woreda to get appropriate individuals. While for focus group discussion the researcher used purposive sampling by dividing participants in to four strata, religious leaders, victimized group (returnee and family), security affairs and sectorial administrators. A checklist was prepared for both FGD and the interview of key informants so as to ensure that all key issues are covered during the discussion and interview.

Data collection tool

Two checklists were prepared for key informant and for Focus Group Discussion participant. Questions for interview schedule were prepared to elicit information from the respondents of Rural-urban household heads. My role during schedule interview and discussion were only facilitating, explaining and guiding necessary directions rather than interfering. Documents with related to the study (primary and secondary) were also collected from woreda and zone.

Interview schedule

For Interview schedule households were selected in a random sampling. Data were obtained from schedule interview which was administered to the 120 heads of the households in local language (Amharic) for male or female or the spouse in the absence of the head. I have selected three enumerators for collection of data, which is consisted of two persons who are finished grade 12 and one elementary teacher. During schedule interview, households were responded by using questions, which consist of open and close ended questions. The interview questions were prepared to collect information from the respondents selected in three kebeles’ households. The schedule questions were to find out important socio-demographic and economic characteristics, contextual variables; questions eliciting causes, , direction, networking, remittance, developmental dimension, positive and negative consequences of illegal migration. Therefore migrant household heads responded to major semi-structured questions during interview. However, some non-migrant households were also interviewed in order to assess the present cause, extent and consequence of illegal migration. During interview voluntary participants voice were recorded.

Key informant interview

The Key Informant Interview (KII) was administered to 10 selected key informants from woreda. The key informant was selected among religious leaders (Muslim and orthodox), from returnees, from woreda administrator and from police to get data about causes, consequences and current trend of illegal migration.

Representation from Country Number
Returnees From SaudiArabia 2
From UAE 1
Kuwaiti 1
Dubai 1
Religious leaders (Muslim &Orthodox)   2
Woreda police Kutaber 1
 Youth and Women affairs Kutaber 1
 Government CommunicationBureau   1
Total   10

Table 4: Category of the key informant interviewee.

The key informants were selected in consultation with the communication bureau of the woreda to get appropriate individuals (Table 4)

Focus group discussion

The FGD check list was prepared, which was aimed to generate information from three heterogeneous focus group discussions. This checklist consists of all open ended and general questions and was developed to generate information about zonal and woreda level scenario of illegal migration i.e., history of migratory flows, infrastructural development in connection with influx of people, cause and characteristics of illegal migrants and some observable impacts on family and migrant. The researcher employed the Focus Group Discussion (FGD), with offices administrators, religious leaders and elders, returnees, and administration and security Affairs. The group discussion included peoples from four strata with nine participants for a discussion. Total numbers of individuals involved in the group discussion were 36.

The researcher has taken notes and put necessary concepts on the paper in organized manner during and after the discussion. The prepared FGD check list, was intend to generate information from three (3) heterogeneous focus group discussions about causes and consequence of illegal migration from the study area. Prior to the actual data gathering the checklists were pre-tested to become possible to check whether the respondents understand the questions properly and the intended information could be gathered. The pretest has also helped the researcher to estimate the average time required to finish interview.

Document analysis

The researcher collected the necessary and reliable information by reviewing the available documents and needed to make a connection between different variables contribute to the problem. This instrument then helped the researcher to cross check and triangulate the data obtained through interview and focus group discussions. The available documents regarding illegal migration, from woreda, zonal, regional, federal and international documents which are related and valuable to the study are analyzed to the study. The researcher has used some document, films, map, television programs and photographs as well as written sources, such as books, brushers and letters for analysis in relation to research question.

Result and Discussion

Ways of organizing migration

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) in Ethiopia, migration can be organized in two ways: legal and illegal. Broadly speaking, legal migration is the movement of people through public employment services or legally registered employment agencies, while illegal migration is a situation whereby people leave their countries knowingly or unknowingly through illegal employment agencies or traffickers.

Illegal and legal migration as experienced by the informants

Globally, peoples who migrate through illegal employment agencies as temporary labor migrants are most exposed to different problems. Illegal employment agencies, agents and smugglers in Ethiopia deceive illegal migrants telling them about good living and working conditions in desired states. However, realities are different. The migrant women are often confined to their employers’ houses for the entire period of their contracts, have no freedom to move and meet friends, and cannot complain when they are maltreated or abused.

Country List of activities Amount ofmoney for expense(ETB)
For Kuwait For passport issuance 300
For health examination 550
MFA license approval 162
For Ashara/clearance of any crime 10
MFA Ashara approval 150
Embassy visa approval 2125
Total expense 3297

Table 5: Travel cost to Kuwait.

According to MoLSA proclamation number 632/2001 E.C. article 15(2) those peoples who are going to abroad by themselves or through agencies has the following expenses that are expected to be covered by emigrants (Tables 5, 6 and 7).

Direction List of activities Amount ofmoney for expense(ETB)
For Saudi Arabia For passport 300
For health examination 550
For ashara /clearance of crime 10
MFA Ashara approval 150
Embassy visa approval 450
total 1460

Table 6: Travel cost to Saudi Arabia.

Country List of activities Amount of money for expense(ETB)
For Dubai For passport issuance 300
For health examination 300
For Ashara /clearance of crime 10
MFA Ashara approval 150
MFA license approval 162
  Total 922

Table 7: Travel cost to Dubai.

The above table shows the correct cost which would be paid by emigrant legally and the planned time was three months. But now it takes more than seven months which hinder emigration process. In case of cost also it takes more than the decided one (Table 8).

Occupation Frequency Percentage
Farmers  95 79
Government employed 25 21
Total 120 100

Table 8: Occupational status of household respondents.

The above table shows that 79% (95) of the household respondent are farmers; they are mainly dependent agriculture on meher Production with small piece of land and large family size which would expose them to migration. While 21% (25) are government employer (Table 9).

Marital status Frequency Percentage
married 75 63
Single 14 12
Divorced 21 17
Widowed 10 8
Total 120 100
Source: Field survey 2013

Table 9: Marital Status of the respondents.

The table above indicates 63% of the respondents are married and most of them have children and son, 17% of them are divorced because of bad traditional practices, 12% single and 8% of them are widowed.

Therefore having more children and sons in family, being divorced and widowed exposes them to migrate especially for women as KII and FGD indicted.

All the respondents are either Muslims or Orthodox Christians. It was found out that 106(88%) of the total respondents are Muslims whereas 14(12%) are orthodox (Tables 10 and 11).

Religion Frequency Percentage
Muslim 106 88
Orthodox 14 12
Total 120 100
Others - -
Source:Field survey 2013

Table 10: Religion of all household respondents.

Category Frequency Percentage
1-3 20 17
4-6 60 50
6-8 15 12
Above 8 25 21
total 120 100
Source: Field survey 2013

Table 11: Respondents’ family size.

All the respondents are either Muslims or Orthodox Christians. It

Based on the above table 60(50%) of the respondent have 4-6 family members which creates land fragmentation to households farm on existing land, 25(21%) of respondents have more than 8 family members, 20(17%) of the respondents have 1-3 family, and 15(12%) of the respondents have 6-8 family members.

The number indicated above creates population density on small hectare of land. To make sure this one can see the population Density of kutaber per hectare of land in 2008 1:38, in 2011, 1:5 and in 2012 1:6.

According to FGD participant apart from 2008 the density has diminished because of high migration rate from woreda (Table 12).

Category Frequency percentage
Migrant 87 73
Non-migrant 33 27
Total 120 100
Source: Field survey 2013

Table 12: Migration affected households’.

Table 12 shows that 87(73%) households are exposed to migration directly or indirectly and those who are not affected are accounts for 33(27%) (Table 13).

As indicted in Table 13 the family size is high when related to land and because of this the 70(58%) land holding is 0-1, 25(21%) of Households (HH) have 2-3 hectare of land, 17% of them have 3-4 hectares and only 4% of the households have more than 4 hectares of land and almost all households are rain dependent for production (Table 14).

We can understand from Table 14 that most of the house holds 50% of them are in income level of 50-150, 25% of HH have from 160 -250, 13% of HH have from 260-500, 8% of them have from 500-900 birr and 4% of HH have greater than 900 birr. The income level is very low and the HH expenditure for home consumption. But it is low to fulfill the demand of family member. There for some member of family are obliged to search for alternative means of income generation.

Category Frequency Percentage
0-1 70 58
2-3 25 21
3-4 20 17
>4 5 4
Total 120 100
Source: Field Survey 2013

Table 13: Households land holding.

Birr Frequency Percentage
50-150 60 50
160-250 30 25
260-500 15 13
500-900 10 8
>900 5 4
Total 120 100
Source: Field Survey 2013

Table 14: Income level of households.

Economic and Non-Economic causes for Illegal Migration from kutaber Woreda

According to the survey study of south wollo LSA, Migration for economic motives is viewed as an investment in human capital, which entails both direct and indirect costs as well as the expectation of returns in the form of increased earnings in the destination. On the other hand, migration undertaken for reason of health, marriage, accompanying parents or returns to the origin can be classified as migration for non-economic reasons and the non-economic migrants are under the context that the decision is not based upon a comparison of cost and returns but on other criteria, which may not be primarily economic (Table 15).

Reasons Frequency Percent
Economic 72 60
Non-economic 48 40
Source: field survey 2013

Table 15: Economic and non-economic causes.

As indicated above Table 15 that the economic causes have 72(60%) and non-economic causes takes 48(40%) for illegal migration from kutaber. The KII and FGD participant indicted that, Because of this reasons most migrants have been choosing Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Kuwait as a destination (Table 16).

Reason of illegal migration Frequency Percentage/%
UUn employment 10 8
Drought 40 33
PPoverty 20 17
Land fragmentation 50 42
Total 120 100
Source: Field Survey 2013

Table 16: Households response to economic causes.

As the house hold respondents have indicated above, land fragmentation accounts for 42% decision for illegal migration, drought 33%, poverty 17% and unemployment status 8%. Employment and land fragmentation have reinforced the migrants’ decision making power while drought, poverty and unemployment have increased dependency on their member families for household decisions. Therefore most households assumed that the informants’ house hold head agreed with their wives to decision for migration because by hope they knew that they would benefit from illegal migration as work pays higher in the destination than it is at home. This corresponds with information from the focus group discussions. As key informant has said the decision to opt for illegal migration thus seems to be somehow not only from the ordinary gendered decision making structures but also by family member because of above causes.

The discussion described the livelihood of the local population in Kutaber primarily depends on agriculture, which is often unreliable. Illegal migration from the woreda kebeles is mainly caused by land fragmentation, drought, unemployment and poverty. According to the BOARD causes of poverty among the local population include: lack of other means of income in addition to agriculture, absence of industrial or service sectors to absorb the local working population (unemployment), and the growth of a dependent young population, particularly due to limited access to Higher education. In addition, poverty in the woreda is increased by the influx of young generation from the surrounding rural areas in search of labor work.

As most of the informants explained that farming was raindependent and the yield earned was inadequate for their survival. Even worse, most of the farms were located away from irrigation sites preventing them from harvesting vegetables to supplement their income. The KII informants maintained that their families were impoverished because income was too low to fulfill basic needs, lower income inequalities and they had no other means of livelihood. As a result, they considered land fragmentation and poverty as one of the push factors for emigration, which is related to economy. While religious key informants (Muslim and orthodox) emphasized people’s excessive hope to income and high competitiveness to generate income aggravated the rural population to search another alternatives source of income. Whereas Zenebu (name changed), one of key informant from kutaber zuria (returnee from Kuwait) narrated how she tried to sustain her impoverished family before migration to the UAE. She stated: “I was the first born daughter in the family. I had two younger brothers, one of whom was mentally retarded. We had a small land and we had no house of our own, nor could we rent from house owners because of poverty. We lived in a government owned (Kebele) house. The family living depended on the cultivation of a small plot of land. We had no other means of survival and lived in a very poor situation. I dropped out from grade 8th to sustain the family by selling cow dung for fuel wood, which I collected daily from remote farms. But our living situation did not improve. It was therefore due to persistent poverty that I migrate, not only to improve my own living, but also for the family. My age was 14 but during the emigration process I made my age to 23. Then I paid 14, 000 ETBto the local agents who facilitated the process of transportation I sold my father’s one ox and borrowed from many peoples” (Zenebu).

The informant’s story illustrates that small land holding with poverty was the main cause for her migration. Also, it is evident that poverty prevails in the local setting as many poor families live in Kebele houses and low agricultural land with very low productivity. In addition, other reasons that prove the informants’ low standard of living include the tendency to give plots to share croppers because of not owning oxen, and dropping out of school to sustain the family living by engaging in the informal sector including daily labor work. Her debt crisis, high cost payment for agents and emigration under 18 also the amazing problem. This relates to statements made by other informant and some of the households who send their children for illegal migration.

Most of the FGD informants stated that their girls and boys were unemployed due to limited access and failure to education, lack of skills training for instance in sewing, embroidery, and hair dressing, which normally do not require high literacy levels, and lack of funds to start small businesses. Surprisingly the rural households stated that the current education among young generation disturbed by the excessive hope of migration (legal/illegal) from there to abroad (Table 17).

Non- economic Causes Frequency Percentage
un happy marriage 10 8
Presence of linkagewith relatives 56 47
Divorce 9 8
Widowed 10 8
Agents 35 29
Source: Field survey 2013

Table 17: Response of households for non-economic causes for illegal migration.

Based on the above table majority of the rural-urban respondents have responded that the linkage with relatives accounts for 47%, Agents in the middle 29%, Divorce 8%, widowed 8% and unhappy marriage 8%, are the causes for the non-economic causes of illegal migration. Therefore non-economic factors are also important to economic causes of illegal migration. The presence of relatives or friends generally facilitates illegal migration to a given destination as relatives or friends usually give some help particularly in the initial periods of adjustment and adaptation to the new environment for both rural and urban. Even if from both religions exposed to out migration, the problem is exposed to Muslim communities because majority are Muslims in woreda and the religious attachment as the discussion and Key informants has revealed. But some participant never accepted the religious attachment to this.

The literature also supports that the problems of poverty, drought, unemployment and small land holding in South Wollo kebeles prevail among the youth, particularly young women who are exposed to those problems because of the non-economic causes like, having more children, educational failure, traditional culture, divorce, biased gender structure, early marriage, relative change of returnees and over ambitiously believed economic change in destination sate, death of parents and husband are more exposed to the problem.

By supporting the above idea focus group discussion participant have supported the informants’ stories that divorce and the loss of male spouses to death often creates trouble for family survival. This forces the widowed and divorced women to look for alternative survival strategies. In addition, the focus group discussions also emphasized that widowed women in kutaber and its surroundings are customarily seen as holders of bad fortune, and often tend not to get remarried easily. Such experiences put additional pressure on them and their families to look for means of survival, including illegal migration.

According to IOM [30], due to the above mentioned economic and non-economic causes, from 20,000-250,000 Ethiopian have been exposed to illegal migration. The Ethiopian MOLSA and other medias like all and Yemen News agency reported that in 2012, Among 107,000 peoples who reached Yemeni illegally for instance 80,000 were Ethiopians mostly women’s. By incorrect perception and illegal agents/smugglers, illegal emigrant of Ethiopian women and child accounts 46% from total and from this 49% of them have not completed grade 8th. Indeed among women who have gone to abroad by expecting good job above 83.9% of them are engaged as home maids. For instance according to south wollo Labor and Social Affair Office prepared survey, among 14,000 Ethiopian in Lebanon in 1999 E.C only 5,533 of them is legal immigrant through private employment agency. The rest citizens were illegal immigrant in Lebanon [31-36].

While according to south wollo police report, in 2003, 1150 females and 359 males were illegal migrants were captured by police and retuned to home, from this number 400 citizens were from kutaber. In 2004 E.C around 2300 illegal migrants who tried to pass through the coastal line of Gerba, Chifra, wuchale and Bati etc. were captured by police. From this number also citizens from kutaber accounts 450 and 37 illegal agents were detained with related to this. Adding to this at the regional level 256 illegal agents were 2005 E.C up to the December 3,431 females and 132 males were returned to home and in connection with this 38 illegal agents were captured by police (SWP). Even if the problem extent is worse the action seems small and unsatisfactory [37-42].

Determinant of illegal
Frequency Percentage
Network 56 47
Income 20 17
Location 44 36
Total 120 100
Source: field survey 2013

Table 18: Household heads response on determinant of illegal migration.

Studying the determinants of migration helps to know how migrants are selected from the whole population which is important to understand the potential effect of migration on the place of origin.

Though some variables seem to have consistent effect, the available studies in general show that there is variation depending on the context and type of migration considered. It is common for young people to go to the Middle East by illegal means which involves huge risk both on their way and after they reach their destination.

Table 18 shows as follows: network 47%, Location 36% and Income 17% in determining illegal migration to the household respondents. In literature it is well established in the social capital theory of migration that networks make migration costs cheaper and hence induce further migration. It is mainly those households who have the network and/or the capacity to finance migration costs who send migrants abroad. While migration in general is a family phenomenon consistent with the NELM, the fact that the network variables are found to be very important also underscores the importance of the social capita theory of migration in explaining international migration in Ethiopia [43-50].

International migration is explained by the social capital theory and the NELM. Expected earnings differential, which is the driving force of migration under the human capital theory, is not important and international migration is rather driven by family situation and networks. The fact that it is mainly those who have the network and/or the capacity to finance migration that send migrants abroad also means the poor will not benefit from migration. Making information about international migration and credit facilities more available will make those with no network and financial capacity benefit more from migration. As discussion rises, what makes different the rural and urban migrant in network is that the urban Migrant use better mechanisms to out migration than rural one. Most of the key informants and FGD participant stated they organized illegal migration to the UAE, Kuwait, and Lebanon was illegally. Because they used illegal employment agencies and middle men. Many of them argued that they preferred illegal employment agencies and agents to avoid delay in processing their applications through legal employment agencies, distance from residence of migrant, hating uncoordinated and poor service of the legal emigration process. The risks involved in migrating illegally were then taken for none granted. Some FGD participant also mentioned Religion (mainly Muslims) as a determinant factor for illegal migration. But Key informants and some of the discussion participant disagree on it by mentioning peoples from different religion who are going to Middle East. The individual experiences of Aregash and seid show that they used illegal private employment agencies to organize illegal emigration for different reasons. Aregash (name changed) explained the story as follows.

“When I planned to organize out migration, I first contacted a friend who returned home from domestic work in Beirut, Lebanon 2000. She told me about the possibility of an attractive salary and renewal of the contract if I arrived early, as many Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon were returning home at the moment. This reinforced my decision to organize emigration legally and I finished passport process. Then I went to Addis Ababa for health examination and clearance of any crime. But my dream failed because the Gulf state health council clinics in Addis told me about my Lung infection. But when they checked again after one month I was fit to go but they refuse me to allow. Then I had searched other option by contacting employment agency, without signining agreement with MFA and MOLSA, the agency prepared for me a tourist visa by one tourist and the agency visa to avoid delay in getting employed. After this I took a flight to Dubai by paying 14, 000 for all agents. However, I did not find suitable living and working conditions and a good salary as I thought before leaving” (Aregash).

As she stated above the chain or network of migration motivated her to migrate from kutaber by paying much money. The uncoordinated activity of the three organs made most emigrant to opt illegal migration and those legal employment agencies also work by mixing legal and illegal one. This complicated the Ethiopian emigration process as most FGD and KII participant supported the idea. Whereas most house hold interviewee mainly those farmers told that the preferred interest is only reaching their sons, daughter and wives to the desired state. As they stated their problem is collecting the required amount of money for agents and process since money paid for this agents changed time to time. Another key informant from kutaber zuria stated his story. Seid (name changed) had a different experience. As he narrated: “I decided to organize illegal migration to the Saudi Arabia upon contact with a returnee man from Dubai. However, I had no idea about illegal migration before processing my application because I did not hear about it from the returnee man I had contacted. Also, I saw many migrant men using the same employment agency and agents. I used to process their migration, and I assumed that all private employment agencies in Dessie were legal. I came to understand that I used an illegal employment agency for my migration process after arrival in Saudi. When I passed from kutaber through the palce called Chifra through forest at night reached to Djibouti. Then we have traveled with many Ethiopians through ship. Most of my friends were thrown and droped from shipes in to the RED sea, which made me very shocked” (seid).

The informants used illegal employment agencies with facilitator of agents for migration illegally either because they wanted to avoid delay in processing applications legally, or had no knowledge of legal versus illegal migration. The few Discussion participants go beyond this that working there in Kutaber is better than death. Whereas few participants supported illegal migration, because as they stated few migrants changed their life who traveled by this mechanism.

According to MoLSA [27], using illegal employment agencies for illegal migration implies risks of incurring high costs for travel, debt payment to employment agencies, and maltreatment by employers. We can see that illegal employment agencies continue to operate in Ethiopia mainly because of the authorities’ limited concern for the protection of citizens’ rights as overseas domestic workers. Another means of illegal migration is Hajji and Umrah. This was very high number of migrant who have gone from kutaber to Saudi mainly from 1998 -2003 according to the Woreda Islamic Council. The Ethiopian government considers the Hajj and Umrah travel to Saudi Arabia legal because the purpose is religious. Thus the focus group discussion participant and key informants who used Hajj and Umrah to leave for Saudi Arabia were legal migrants. The informants explained that they had their visas processed by the national Hajj and Umrah office in Addis Ababa, where each paid last year 42,000 Birr to purchase air tickets for return flights. However, the informants used Hajj and Umrah as a way to go for work migration illegally [51-56].

The Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian governments know that Ethiopian women process their applications for work migration through Hajj and Umrah by illegal means. The informants were considered legal in Ethiopia as they appeared to be pilgrims, while they were seen as illega l in Saudi Arabia when they became domestic workers. However, the host government did not prohibit them from entering, nor did the labor sending country reject their applications on the grounds of pretention. This indicates that both governments have vested interests in the work migration of women and men. The sending country benefits by obtaining hard currency, while the receiving country meets the demand for cheap domestic labor. However, it is not clear why the two governments do not make Ethiopian men and women work migration legal, detached from Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, as long as the benefits are mutual. But the woreda Islamic council vice president said that: “we only support those religious travelers who have sufficient knowledge for these pilgrims despite some migrant from this woreda used this chance to illegal means to escape from Ethiopia. The Qura’an also allows religious travelers with such directions unless it does not consider pilgrimage since their aim is beyond such sprit.”

Positive and negative consequences of illegal migration for migrant and their families

As migration contributes to the improvement of living conditions of migrants and their relatives, it also affects migrants, their family and also the wider public. Illegal migrations in most cases are selective where young and relatively better educated family members move with help of agents. Participants of group discussions and key informants argue that migration contributes to shortage of productive labor and skills required for better management of natural resources in the rural areas. Most of the participants agree that natural resource is in the process of being depleted. The causes are complex and this can be both the consequence and causes of migration. Most of the FGD, KII and House Hold interviewee agreed that illegal migration have both risk and success (Table 19).

Positive consequences Frequency Percentage
Remittance /financial 50 42
Improved skill of production 26 22
Increased access to education 13 10
Increased access to information 31 26
Total 120 100
Source: Field Survey 2013

Table 19: Perceived positive Success by Households and emigrant.

Based on the above table, respondents have responded to the positive effect of remittance 42%, for the improved skill 22%, access to education (mainly spiritual) 10% and 26% for information access.

As emphasized in discussion, for many small households like in various parts of the country, the part of the population most which is prone to risk of poverty is high. Illegal migration is thus traditionally considered to be a way of protecting household members at the migrant’s place of origin from economic pitfalls by receipt of remittances.

More recently, young adults from rural villages have been observed to neglect their traditional obligation to support their elderly parents, especially if they do not intend to return to their native villages, do not expect any sizable inheritances, and have no reciprocal insurances.

In such circumstances, rural people are exposed to the risk of staying without supporting in times of economic crisis or during their old age. It is evident from the focus group discussions and key informant analysis that some parents in the place of origin are satisfied with the positive changes brought about by illegal migrants’.

Among these perceived positive changes, special mention was given to: cover the family’s cost for basic necessity, cover the credit for agricultural input, cover the cost of education and teaching materials for children, covers the entire cost of the holydays, getting better access to medical treatment, better information about HIV/AIDS and related matters, purchase of cattle, constructing iron-roofed houses and the like.

As KII mentioned, the amount of remittance made by few migrants was also reported to have far reaching effects at community level as well. In this regard, it was said that some migrants taken steps to construct roads, schools, religious institutions, develop water sources, avail transportation facilities, and invest in small scale industries at the respective locale.

The National Bank of Ethiopia report in 2012/13 reveals, by supporting the respondent that the country have got remittance 2.1 billion US $ within nine months. This remittance increased by 43% from last year.

The Effect of Illegal Migration on Kutaber Woreda with Emphasis on Gender Dimension

Gender Frequency Percentage
Male 48 40
Female 72 60
Total 120 100
Source: field survey 2013

Table 20: Response of households on gender selective of Illegal migration.

As shown in the Table 20, the respondents reaction about dominant migrant like female illgal migrant from kutaber accounts for 60% and to male 40%, have larger percentage over male, this indicates females are more vulnerable to illegal migration. Many female migrants go to the Middle East to work mainly as house maids from kutaber woreda. Thus, the result of KII and FGD reflects the better employment opportunities females have abroad coupled with their low employment opportunity at home. Taking in to account the harsh work condition they face, it could be argued that most of the females go to Middle East essentially out of their strong desire to help their families. Females are also believed to send more remittance than males which will increase their probability of migration consistent with the prediction of the model as most households stated. The story of Saada, one key informant strength more she said: First I prepared Identification Card by stating my age as 24 and finished the passport process in 4 months. Then to avoid delay in Addis Ababa I planned to go, through agents. I asked them to send me Sudan and then to Kuwait. The problem faced was the distance from my home and uncoordinated activities and distance of each among the responsible organs for emigration made me to cross via Sudan. In between I waited a long on the street until the process finished. The agent made contact for another agent found in Sudan and again the receiver agent send me to Kuwait. After this I reached to Kuwait, the language and culture added some problem for me. But I had no other option rather than taking risk. I sent money within two month to pay for family Debt. After I finished the Debt, I asked my relative in town to put my money in bank but after I returned to Ethiopia he refused to bring that money. Then I was angry, again I began to move to Saud to work again” (sada).

The stated story above clearly shows the problem encountered by women’s during origin and to arrival at various levels and place. In addition the remittance which is sent from abroad does not solve the entire existing problem as stated by her. Though it is very important to know the reason for migration (why people move), it is also equally important to analyze what problems migrants face just at arrival and during the course of their life at place of destination. It is apparent to note that migrants face a number of socio-economic problems compared to legal migrants at the place of destination at least for certain period of time. The discussion raised, problem in the first phase of their stay, illegal migrants have to make all their level best to adjust themselves with the new life. Whether these migrants will stay at the destination or move to the next one depends mainly on how a migrant has been able to adjust himself with the multi-dimensional stock of problems and challenges.

In this regard, both rural and urban FGD respondents were asked to report problems, successes/impacts of migration of a family member mainly on women. In order to make the findings more acceptable and sounding, analysis was done from gender perspectives. In recent times, female illegal migration has been the focus of growing attention among social scientists and policy maker. The growing patterns is that women from Kutaber often migrate alone as single persons, unaccompanied by family members, rather than as dependent of their husbands which was previously the case. Pending the reason why women migrate illegally to different areas, now they are more exposed to forced labor and sexual exploitation than men, also more likely to accept unsafe working conditions and unfairly paid job.

Moreover MoLSA indicated that female illegal migrants than men are more vulnerable to human rights abuses since they work in gender segregated and unregulated sectors of the economy such as domestic work, entertainment and sex industry. All these give gender dimension to the study of impact of migration. As part of the general neglect of the gender dimension in migration research, there remains only limited knowledge of the conditions under which and how migration process can bring differential impacts. In this section, attempt is made to examine the differential impacts of illegal migration (gender perspectives) based on the idea of HH informants, KII and FGD. Female were reported to have encountered series of financial problems just at the beginning of their stay at the place destination. Therefore they planned to escape in whatever means as returnees narrated. Engaging unsafe employment is quite a common phenomenon for majority of illegal migrants. Survey Studies of MoLSA [27] indicated that migrants usually face problems during the course of their life in addition to just at the time of arrival. In this study, information was collected from all the households, FGD and from returnees the type and nature of problems they faced during their stay at place of origin and from returnees in destination differ. It is not surprising to find such larger proportion to get appropriate employment at the place of destination since migrants (in Ethiopian context) are more likely to be illiterate or unskilled at the time of arrival. The key informant also, indicted that many of them may lack support system and linkage at the place of destination. Whether a migrant has undergone labor exploitation (using the standard definition of ILO) at the place of destination or not, was also probed. It is seen most female illegal migrants have reported to undergone labor exploitation of one kind or the other. Another problem, loosen family ties, was raised by FGD participant as one of the major problems faced by female indeed.

The analysis of the key informants and focus group discussions also strengthened the aforementioned facts of gender differentials of migration impacts more. The discussion held with Women’s Affairs Bureau, for instance, indicates that women are increasingly migrating to outside areas in search of job opportunities and better life like other. Some of the women are taking illegal migrations as the only way out from the marriage arrangement as a result of harmful traditional practices such as early or unhappy marriage or Nikah, abduction and unhealthy relationship in the family. In most cases the intended pull factor might not actually be reachable due to the poor skills and the overall preparation towards women. As a result, women who migrated illegally from rural areas of kutaber woreda are forced to be engaged in activities such as housemaid, domestic works and other low paying and risky activities which ultimately expose them to various abuses such as sexual harassment, labor exploitation, rape, unwanted pregnancy, physical abuse and the like.

Once the migration impact at individual and household level is examined as discussed above, it is also important to briefly describe the possible impacts at community and family level. The fact that quantitative information was difficult to generate at the community level, the responses of the FGD participant with the competent authorities in various government offices was used to describe the migration impacts at the community level. In all the discussions held with the concerned authorities, it was noted that the influx of people has increasingly alarming consequence on the families of rural-urban lives and deterioration of productivity. On positive side those migrant (mostly females) who are going abroad fulfill the house hold consumption, construction of house, material transfer, opening small shops, covering education expense for remaining family member are some of contributions.

Similarly, the key informant interview held with returnees and police in kutaber indicates that most of the urban centers of the zones are increasingly becoming attractive to rural comers, but the quality of life in these urban areas is dwindling down due to increased pressures from the incoming illegal migrants during transit. Among others, the following problems were mentioned: growing number of street children, growing rate of the prostitution particularly after the, growing rate of crime, increasing rate of unemployment, increased prevalence of addiction to ‘Chate’, smoking and drinking, poverty has escalated as a result of sending children and boy abroad. The problem on females is very much than male. According to the data from communication affair office of woreda, families usually send children to the Middle East by taking debt from relatives. During interview the house hold mentioned that, There are cases in which the parents sale their house to cover the expense for processing the oversee payment for the middlemen/agents and air fee.

Understanding when and how illegal migration and what variables influence the timing of their departure has been one of the leading concerns for current researchers. Few FGD participant raised the Mobility of people from rural areas is not only initiated by the rapid growth of urbanization and communication technology as it does in most parts of developing countries, but also due to stress from ecological degradation. To make sure this idea participant from BOARD stressed on Barkana and Meskela which is environmentally degraded and drought prone areas of South Wollo, the rural natural resource based, particularly land is diminishing and the traditions as well as economic resources that keep extended families together are no more in place. Particularly women can’t pass their secondary education and they tend to inclined migration in whatever means. Under such environment people are subjected to continual forces of stress, and in effect, entire household or at least some of its members migrate illegally due to one reason or another.


As already indicated in the previous chapter, the main objective of the research was to examine the causes and consequence of illegal migration from Kutaber woreda, Southern Wollo, Amhara regional state. Though the research dealt with Causes and consequences of illegal migration with its implications of to the migrants and their families. Therefore to collect data the researcher used both primary and secondary sources. To this end the researcher have used interview schedule for 120 household heads from three Kebele of Kutaber Woreda, KII with returnees, police and religious leaders and documented and undocumented material including videos, newspapers etc. as a source. The collected data have been interpreted by categorizing in descriptively (percentage & frequency). The response of KII quoted and the response of FGD participant also used as a supportive idea in result and discussion part.

The study has shown that the economic causes (60%) and noneconomic causes (40%) have important contribution for the migrants to migrate illegally. Rural-urban migrants migrate more for economic reasons than non-economic one. As KII and FGD participant said, females migrate for non-economic reasons than males’ spatially for rural respondents’. The search for employment or job, drought, poverty, land fragmentation and problems related to agriculture are found to be the most important economic reasons of migration. These problems become more worst when the family has large family and small land holding as indicated in the study. Among non-economic reasons, the linkage with relatives or friends, divorce, widowed and the role of middle agents are mentioned. Indeed the respondents have responded to the determinant of illegal migration as network (47%), location (36%) and income (17%). In Ethiopian legal employment agencies undertaken migration illegally driven by the motives to earn a lot of money, and illegal employment agencies may become legal under different pressures. The study also shows that 73% of the respondents are affected positively and negatively by migration. The problem of being legal or illegal also applies to the migrant from Kutaber, which have both success and failure. In this respect, the peoples who are travel through Hajj and Umrah was considered legal in Ethiopia, since the migrants appeared to be pilgrims, but they were seen as illegal in Saudi Arabia, when they became housemaids despite their stated status as pilgrims. Different raised questions concerning how these peoples processed their work migration through Hajj and Umrah, and how the destination country tolerated them working as housemaids knowing that they entered the country on pilgrimage visas are still debating issue. The impact of the illegal migration on host and destination country, on family as well as on migrants has been tremendous. Positively, after return migrants invested their assets, use improved skill, use their education and information to operate small businesses either privately or in partnership in the town and the surroundings are its consequences. Indeed this creates employment opportunities for dependent family members and contributed to the expansion of the service sector in the locality alongside improving the returnee’s living standard. In addition, their achievements in migration gave them agency to resist polygamous marriages, negotiate divorce, run their businesses with little or no involvement of their spouses and so forth. While negatively illegal migration has the impact of added burdens or work load to migrant families, debt crises, physical and psychological failure and susceptibility of family to poverty, whose survival depended largely on remittances are mentioned. Having little opportunities for improved life after migration, many of the unsuccessful returnees excluding those who had health problems, therefore decided to undertake remigration as a survival strategy illegally via Sudan and Djibouti to the Arab Middle East. The reintegration of returnees from domestic work in the Arab Middle East countries needs to be comprehensive and sustainable, enabling the returnees to support themselves and their families and avoid the risk of re-migration. Furthermore, since illegal migration involves various obstacles to society, and provides limited opportunities for improving people’s livelihood, it should be neither alternative for migrant nor a necessity. Rather using legal migration should have to be promoted by reducing the hindrance of emigration process and uncoordinated activity of various organs at different level, when it is necessary. The main determinant factors and gender dimension of illegal migration from kutaber woreda are discussed and analyzed in the study. Finally based on the study, conclusion and relevant recommendation has been suggested by the researcher.


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