Call for Concept Notes in Migration, Rural Poverty and Natural Resources Management

Concept notes should be specific on what linkages between migration and Natural Resources Management are to be researched and with what methodology. Concept notes should be submitted to [email protected] before 31 October 2007. Concept notes will be accepted in English, French and Spanish.

Rural Poverty and Environment Program Initiative (RPE) welcomes concept notes on the topic of Migration, Rural Poverty and Natural Resources Management (NRM). Concept notes should be specific on what linkages between migration and NRM are to be researched and with what methodology. Concept notes should be submitted to [email protected] before 31 October 2007. Concept notes will be accepted in English, French and Spanish.

For further information, please contact an RPE Program Officer in the regional office closest to where the research will take place:

Southeast and East Asia: Hein Mallee at [email protected]
South Asia: Oliver Puginier at [email protected]
Latin America and the Caribbean: Marco Rondon at [email protected]
West and Central Africa: Innocent Butare at [email protected]
Eastern and Southern Africa: Catherine Kilelu at [email protected]
Middle East and North Africa: Marwan Owaygen at [email protected]

Background: Migration, Rural Poverty and NRM
Migration is now a pervasive fact of rural life in most parts of the world. It includes both international and domestic movement and ranges from long-term and permanent moves between places to seasonal and shorter forms of circulatory migration, which are made increasingly common by advances in transportation and communication technology. Much of this migration is part of the urbanisation process, but resource frontiers also continue to attract substantial migrant streams.

There is now a sizeable literature that describes how rural households increasingly use labour mobility as part of diversified livelihood strategies that span multiple places. This can be a basic survival strategy, sometimes trapping poor families in marginally profitable sets of activities, or an accumulation strategy in which households strategically spread resources over different sectors and places. While there is a gradual overall shift of population to urban areas, the large rural populations in many countries ensure that large numbers of people will continue to be based in the countryside for many decades to come. This will be a countryside, however, that is increasingly linked with and integrated in the urban economy, and one where agricultural work is gradually losing its predominant position.

The increasing population mobility can have many different consequences for the management of natural resources (including agriculture, forests, fisheries, water, rangeland, etc.). Some of the possible patterns include the following:

Resource depletion or degradation or changes in access to resources are a frequently mentioned underlying cause of migration, sometimes giving rise to distress migration. The opposite situation is also common, where large-scale in-migration leads to natural resource depletion.
Remittances may provide the resources to buy land or invest in resource management. Similarly, newly acquired skills of return migrants may be used in agriculture.
Migration may draw away labour from NRM and increase the opportunity cost of NRM labour. Migration can also make it less necessary to spend the same amount of labour on NRM work as other sources of income become available.

As men are more likely to engage in labour mobility, women remain behind in charge of managing the household and NRM. In some areas this has been described as the feminisation of agricultural labour and management.

Management of common pool resources (CPRs) and claims for use-rights may become more complicated in communities with substantial labour mobility. Long absences from the village of some of the members can affect collaborative action and rights in NRM. Migrants may also find it difficult to maintain a recognised stake and role in management and governance of CPRs. However, increased collaboration can also be an adaptation to decreased labour availability and changing division of labour.
Migration to resource frontier areas can increase pressure on resources, lead to resource conflicts and undermine existing arrangements for NRM.

While there are thus many possible linkages between migration, rural poverty and NRM, with differing causal relationships and mediating factors, this remains a largely un-researched area. The research literature specifically addressing migration, rural poverty and NRM is very small. RPE intends to contribute to a better understanding of these problems and to the development of a body of related research by providing support for a number of case studies.

Migration here is understood as: population movement from or to rural areas, both permanent and circulatory, within and across national boundaries, although often not exclusively in pursuit of employment or labour opportunities.

Eligibility criteria are as follows. The research must be:

Relevant to the theme on the relationship between migration, rural poverty and NRM;
Located in one of the RPE priority regions;
Requiring IDRC research grant finance budget of CAD$150 000 [One hundred and fifty thousand Canadian Dollars] or less for each project and no more than 24 months (2 years) to complete;
Outlined in a properly-completed Concept Note which can be downloded as either a PDF or Word file. Incomplete concept notes will not be accepted;
Received by Wednesday, 31 October 2007; and
Aligned with the broader development objectives of RPE and IDRC
Selection criteria are as follows:
Concept notes need to provide conceptual clarity on the relationship between migration, rural poverty and NRM (what specifically will be examined?).
Concept notes also need to provide a specified description of the methodology that will be used, clearly linking research questions (see previous point) to data collection, analysis and outputs.
Research using different methodological approaches is welcome, but with an emphasis on applied, exploratory work. Researchers should highlight the innovative contributions they hope to make with their research.
Cases with a link to practical intervention or pre-existing community-based work will receive higher priority.
Concept notes building on existing work are encouraged, in particular where a migration dimension is added to ongoing NRM work or vice versa.
Concept notes need to make reference to any similar work being done by others in the region/country.
The primary target for support is research institutions in the global South, although partnerships with Northern institutions are not necessarily excluded, especially where they have a clearly defined role in back stopping and capacity building.
Concept notes will be short-listed and RPE will invite these researchers to submit full proposals.

Published: 01 Aug 2007

Contact details:

Head Office
Mailing address PO Box 8500, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 3H9

208 Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003, India
Phone: (+91-11) 2461-9411

Latin America and the Caribbean:
Juncal 1385, Piso 14
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
Phone: (+598) 2915-0492

Middle East and North Africa 
Zahran Gate Complex Suite 302,
25 Ismael Haqqi Abdo Street,
Amman, Jordan

Sub-Saharan Africa
PO Box 62084 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

Street address: Eaton Place, 3rd floor
United Nations Crescent, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
Phone: (+254) 709-074000

+1 613 236 6163
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