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Integrating Rural Migrants in Cities - A Field Experiment in Mozambique

Project description

A move to integrate Mozambican rural migrants

The movement of people from the rural countryside to urban centres in Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to generate progress in line with medium-term sustainable development goals. However, rural-urban migration can also cause disruption and conflict in the short-term. Also, many autocratic governments oppose urbanisation because it limits citizens’ control. Thus, it relies on city-level governments to peacefully integrate new migrants. The EU-funded QUELIMANE project will carry out a randomised control trial (RCT) in the Mozambican city of Quelimane that has created an innovative programme to facilitate rural migrants’ integration. The project will study how the programme impacts livelihoods, attitudes, prejudices, political prejudices, and future migration patterns.


Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s fastest-urbanizing region. The movement of people from the countryside to denser cities will likely create progress toward some of the Sustainable Development Goals in the medium term, especially SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 13 (Climate Action), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 5 (Gender Equality). However, rural-urban migration can also cause disruption and conflict in the short term. Furthermore, many autocratic national governments oppose urbanization because it increases the cost and difficulty of controlling citizens through patronage and intimidation. Therefore, the responsibility often falls on city-level governments in the developing world to peacefully integrate new migrants with existing residents, and there is an urgent need for evidence on how to do so. This project will help meet this need in the context of the Mozambican city of Quelimane (pop. 350,000). Quelimane has created a program for rural migrant integration that includes job matching, training and education, financial services, and tax incentives. The government of Quelimane has invited me and my supervisor at NovaSBE, Pedro Vicente, to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to rigorously measure the causal impact the program, by selecting randomly which blocks in the city will be eligible for the program first. To measure both the direct effect of the program and its externalities, we will survey 500 long-term residents in treatment and control blocks as well as 1000 recent migrants and their still-rural connections. We plan to study not just how the program affects livelihoods, but attitudes, prejudices, political attribution, and further migration. Understanding how Quelimane can improve the urban integration of rural – and which parties have political incentives to do so – can help other local governments in Africa build institutions to meet similar challenges, a key objective of SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).

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Net EU contribution
€ 159 815,04
Campus de campolide
1099 085 Lisboa

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Continente Área Metropolitana de Lisboa Área Metropolitana de Lisboa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00