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INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND THE YOUTH AMONG A KAMBATA COMMUNITY: THE VIEWS FROM BELOW AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS [Abstract ID: 1205-12]
International migration through legal and particularly illegal and risky routes to the Gulf States and some African countries has become a matter of national concern in Ethiopia. The disadvantages and advantages mostly from irregular channels have created a gloomy yet mixed picture of migration abroad; a social dilemma that needs to be addressed. Criticisms made against this labour migration have compelling reasons but are short of grasping the broad range of factors, nuances and complexities that surround the motivations of migrants themselves, their parents and communities. As a result, we have a situation where there is conflict between local and national interests. That this form of mobility has improved community attitudes, and the social status as well, of female youths because of remittances, savings and relief to land pressure, among others, are at the root of local justifications in its favour. Therefore, exploring and analyzing these complexities can help in arriving at better policy options to address the dilemma. This paper, based on empirical evidence from a largely qualitative research carried out in Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray regions, explores the issue focusing on the causes of migration such as youth aspirations and effects such as youth roles in social structures and benefits such as investment in agriculture and education. It also looks at disadvantages such as family labor loss and the sufferings of migrants. Moreover, using comparative and historical methods, and linking to national and international discourses and response to migration abroad, the paper assesses available local economic opportunities in relation to decisions about migrating abroad. In so doing, it reveals how subjective meaning-making is resulting in differing conceptions of the same objective phenomenon and points out some ways of reconciling this. The approach of treating the issue as a complex and conflicting process leading to different, context-based and national outcomes is expected to invite more theoretical and policy research in this field, which is vital to ongoing change and transformation in the country.