SOAS University of London

Rural Labour Market Survey Research



The Ministry of Planning and Finance (MPF) (now Ministry of Planning and Development) and UNDP, Mozambique, funded a research programme on "Rural Labour Markets and Poverty in Mozambique". This research was a collaborative programme between SOAS (through CDPR) and the research unit of the Planning and Budget Directorate of the MPF. The research involved a survey of 2,600 seasonal and casual rural wage workers (in agricultural and non-agricultural activities), their households, large and small agricultural employers, and case study interviews with selected female wage workers. Some film footage was also collected.

From the SOAS side, John Sender, Christopher Cramer and Carlos Oya led the research through all stages, from initial conception to the write-up of outputs, collaborating closely with three Mozambican researchers working in the MPF (now Ministry of Planning and Development). Carlos Oya was located in Mozambique between November 2001 and April 2003 to coordinate the project and organise and supervise the fieldwork, which was undertaken in three provinces (Manica, Nampula and Zambezia) between May 2002 and April 2003. The project also involved a capacity building component, with specialist research methods training in London for Ministry of Planning staff, training of the enumerators, and training of data input staff hired in Mozambique.

The research focused on the living conditions of rural wage workers and the dynamics of rural wage employment, which is often 'invisible' in more conventional large-scale representative household surveys. The results are now making an important contribution to debates on rural poverty and the various routes out of poverty in rural Africa. The research found significant differentiation among rural wage workers, a wide range of types of jobs and complex contract arrangements. The high incidence of divorce and widowhood found among female wage workers has highlighted the need to analyse gender relations when investigating rural poverty. Finally, a combination of quantitative (a large scale sample survey) and qualitative methods (oral histories, in-depth open interviews, etc.), facilitated an analysis of labour relations by linking workers and their employers and revealed the various processes by which employers attempt to exert control over the labour process.

Research outputs have fed into the Mozambican poverty monitoring system and the revisions of the PRSP, and have provided insights into the problems of designing surveys on rural employment in Mozambique.