SOAS University of London

SOAS joins £20m global research hub aiming to harness benefits of South-South migration

14 February 2019

SOAS University of London is set to play a key role in a £20 million global research hub – funded through UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and led by Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR).

The UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub will see SOAS join forces with universities and organisations from across the world to explore how the movement of people in the Global South is affecting inequality and development in less developed regions. The initiative is thought to be the largest study into global migration undertaken anywhere in the world. The Hub was opened on 13 February in Accra Ghana, hosted by the Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Ghana-Legon.

Over the next five years the Hub will work with governments, international agencies, partners and NGOs on the ground in these countries and around the globe to maximise the benefits of South-South migration for development – and to investigate how it contributes to the delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as ending poverty and reducing inequality.

South-South migration is estimated to account for nearly half of all international migration (up to 70% in some places), but its potential benefits have been undermined by limited and unequal access to rights and to the economic and social opportunities that migration can bring.

The Hub will explore South-South migration in six global ‘corridors’ linking origin and destination countries, focusing in particular on the following routes: Nepal–Malaysia; China–Ghana; Burkina Faso–Cote D’Ivoire; Ethiopia–South Africa; Haiti–Brazil; and Egypt–Jordan.

Professor Heaven Crawley, an expert in international migration at Coventry University, will lead the Hub’s network of partners which includes:

  • 20 leading universities, as well as the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), PositiveNegatives, Samuel Hall and @iLabAfrica;
  • Six international organisations – the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Research Institute For Social Development (UNRISD); and
  • Numerous local organisations in the 12 countries in which the hub will work: Burkina Faso, Brazil, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal and South Africa.

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI champion for international and executive chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), said:

“The sheer scale and ambition of these Hubs is what makes them so exciting. They enable us to deliver a coordinated global response with UK researchers working in partnership with researchers, governments, NGOs, community groups and international agencies across developing countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for multitudes throughout the world and safeguard our planet for future generations.”

Professor Laura Hammond from SOAS said, ‘I am really delighted to work with this diverse and dynamic team of researchers to better understand the experiences of people affected by South-South migration – migrants, their families, host communities, cities, nations, and regions. This is a unique opportunity to understand how poverty, inequality and migration are interrelated in this context.

Hammond will lead a work package on Inequality and Poverty together with Dr Oliver Bakewell of the University of Manchester. Dr Benjamin Dix, Senior Fellow at SOAS and Director of PostitiveNegatives, a cultural communications group based at SOAS, will be involved in the Hub’s arts and communications work.