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Human Migration And Development Policy & Planning

Migration, according to Marsella and Ring (2003:3), has been a foremost foundation of survival in humans, adjustment and development over the centuries and millennia. The lives of both the migrants and those who arrived before them are changed by migration, for migration is an interactive process—both migrant and host are permanently altered by the encounter. A new social and environmental ecology emerges.

Values, ideas, and diseases are exchanged, and eventually so are genes. With these, migration has become a major concern of government officials, political leaders, policymakers, and scholars, and numerous books and journal articles have been published on a variety of topics related to migration including cultural change, health, law, mental health, population movements and demographics, politics, urbanization, and the survival of human society.

This is where the need for development policies and planning activities comes in, and an understanding of the phenomenon of human migration is therefore necessary to ensure that only the most effective and efficient development policies and planning activities are carried out. Unemployment It is difficult to say how much unemployment there really is in the world. The compilation of statistics on this subject has not been a vigorous activity in countries.

Small wonder, then, that development plans which commonly provide a wealth of detail on such variables as output and trade are often reticent with regard to employment (Choucri 2002:98). It is true that the measurement of unemployment and inadequate employment is not an easy task but if policy-making is to have a rational basis, it is imperative that earnest efforts should be made to fill the gaps in knowledge.

Adding to the gravity of the problem is the continuing migration of people in search of jobs and better remuneration from the rural to the urban areas. The more rapid absorption of the labor force in urban activities is surely an essential ingredient of the development process; but the trek of the people to urban centers has almost invariably far surpassed what could be handled in the prevailing circumstances (Taylor 2003:55). The search for work and for improved conditions of life has commonly prompted many to migrate to the urban centers.

In India, for instance, net migration from the rural areas made up one third of the increment to the urban population. And while the labor force has been growing rapidly, the opportunities for work have not generally expanded at a sufficiently fast pace. The employment objective of development policy and planning, therefore, should be in line with the understanding of human migration patterns in order to accommodate for the rapid growth of the labor force and provide more opportunities for work. Population Planning

With the unprecedented growth of population, which has been nullifying in part the gains of economic development, population planning has become a crucial element in planning for economic and social development (Fishman 2005:358). Controlling the growth rate of population is one of the major objectives of most countries and targets are set for the achievement of this objective through a faster reduction of birth rates than the anticipated reduction of death rates, arising from the planned improvement of health conditions.

In population planning, one is also concerned with human migration, both external and internal. So far as external migration is concerned, it is not a significant feature in countries such as India. In countries where external migration is a significant factor, it may be desirable to include the net migration rate as an additional indicator. In regard to internal migration, the most important indicator is the net rural-urban migration rate. Singer (2004: 30) asserted that statistics on this aspect are not currently available in most countries of the region.

If the requisite data are available, the indicator may preferably be included. A structural indicator of importance which may be included under this head is the percentage of urban population, changes in which indicates the effects of economic development and spotlights the need for urban development. Health and Nutrition Improvement of health conditions and provision of the requisite health services constitute an essential aspect of socio-economic development, good health being an essential aspect of the quality of life, as well as a prerequisite for high levels of productivity (Kane 1995:23).

The primary objectives of a health program are the prolongation of life, control of mortality at the younger ages where it is most pronounced, and improvement of the health status of the people through prevention and cure of diseases. In planning for the improvement of health, special emphasis is usually laid on the control of communicable diseases. An indicator which can perhaps usefully be added in this context is the standardized mortality rate for communicable diseases (Adler and Gielen 2003:42).

With the phenomenon of human migration, health and nutrition policies and plans need to be taken into consideration. In health planning, a concern is the availability and use of health services including medical and paramedical personnel and the factors that affect health such as housing, sanitation, water supply, nutrition and the consumption of injurious items such as tobacco, liquor and drugs. The two principal indicators on health services which are generally used are the number of hospital beds and the number of physicians and surgeons per 100,000 of population.

It is also useful to add the number of nurses and midwives per 100,000 of population, as they constitute another critical category of health manpower. By focusing on such health and nutrition issues, it will shed the light on the relationship between these issues and migration, and, by doing so, contribute to the existing fund of knowledge and provide some recommendations for planning and policy implementation.


1. Adler, L & Gielen, U 2003, Migration: Immigration and Emigration in International Perspective, eds, Praeger, Westport, Connecticut.2. Choucri, N 2002, ‘Migration and Security: Some Key Linkages’, Journal of International Affairs, vol. 56, no. 1, pp. 97+. 3. Fishman, R 2005, ‘The Fifth Migration’, Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 71, no. 4, pp. 357+. 4. Kane, H 1995, ‘What’s Driving Migration? ’, World Watch, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 23+. 5. Singer, A 2004, The Rise of New Immigrant Gateways, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC. 6. Taylor, R 2003, ‘Hardship at Home, Hardship Abroad the Migration “System” Doesn’t Work’, UN Chronicle, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 55+.

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