Kwacha ngwee: A snapshot at Zambia’s contemporary migration patterns
Zambia is among the rapidly urbanisation countries in sub-Saharan Africa with almost 35 % of its 10.7 million people living in urban centres. Official statistics from the Central Statistic Office of Zambia has pegged the urbanisation rate at 40 %. This high rate has been attributed mainly to internal movements of people from different geographical settings in the country, with rural-urban movement being the main contributor. Unfortunately for Zambia, rapid urbanisation is taking place when the country is experiencing tremendous economic declines emanating from the oil crisis of the late 1970s, to the current deteriorations in all sub-sectors of the economy. This situation has been exacerbated by decays in the institutional framework, poor governance and the adoption of globally formulated economic policies which seem to be divorced from local realities. The effects of the local, national and global forces have thus combined and negatively affected productivity in both rural and urban areas. This has further subjected both rural and urban populations to various levels of poverty, vulnerability and deprivation. These developments have forced both rural and urban populations to engage in some form of movement with rural to rural and urban to urban flows increasingly becoming the dominant movement patterns in Zambia. In fact statistical evidence suggests the slowing down of the rural - urban migration pattern, despite the recent surge of interest in Zambia’s copper mining industry which has been re-vitalised and has attracted huge international investments. On the other hand, emigration from Zambia by regional or African standards is very low. Few Zambians live abroad and migration from Zambia seems to a characteristic of the tertiary educated. This paper therefore, attempts to highlight developments in Zambia’s population movements in the hope of re-focussing research from the traditional focus on rural to urban forms to one that includes other forms of migration such as rural to rural and cross-border movements. Both Rural to rural and cross-border movements are slowly increasing in importance, but their dynamics, especially in the Zambian context are little understood.