The bright lights grow fainter livelihoods, migration and a small town in Zimbabwe
Abstract: The Aids pandemic and structural adjustment policies (SAP) have had effects on lower income households in Zimbabwe which have been devastating and people have been required to adapt their livelihood strategies. Small towns meanwhile are growing rapidly in Zimbabwe and mobility towards these towns may be connected with the changes being forged by SAP on the economic landscape. This study seeks to establish how the individual migrant uses mobility to negotiate this landscape. This involves mobility directed towards small towns to access advantageous provisioning possibilities, and also the engagement in a multitude of family linkages from the small town to other places within the settlement system. Substantiated through a case study of Rusape, this study suggests that lower living costs, higher food security and a more accessible labour market may be attracting migrants from higher level urban centres. The role of the network of kin relations in mobility is important and migrants’ networks over space cover both rural homes and urban areas. The access to networks, however, is being stratified under SAP and the ability to maintain linkages with relatives is declining, suggesting a rising vulnerability connected with the inability of leaving places and entering others.
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