Rural youth rarely find fortunes in the city
12 October 2007 - When Nouhoum Sangaré left his wife,
three children and village in southern Mali for the capital Bamako
240km away, he expected to find stable work and a comfortable life,
and eventually have his family join him.
He found a different
and unglamorous reality. He goes from small job to small job, barely
making ends meet. He often comes home after a day's work with 100
CFA francs (22 US cents).
easy," Sangaré told IRIN, "because I have to share
the crumbs I earn with my parents and my family in the village."
is one of a growing number of young rural Malians who are leaving
their homes to find work in the city.
Bamako, is the fastest growing city in Africa and
the sixth-fastest growing city in the world, according to data compiled
by the Mayor's Association, a global network of city officials.
are booming throughout West Africa. In Mali's western neighbour
Mauritania, more than 60 percent of the traditionally nomadic people
there are estimated to have moved to towns and cities.
most do not find what they are looking for and in some cases end
up worse off.
study has been conducted to gauge the magnitude of migration within
Mali; but in the western region of Kayes - one of the hardest hit
by migration - a non-governmental organisation (NGO) found that
40 percent of its population had left the region
in the period 1993-2002 to move either to Bamako, elsewhere in West
or North Africa, or to try to get to Europe.
26, blames decline in his village for his decision to flee. "The
fields don't produce any more. The fruits rot because we
don't have the means to turn them into other products [for example,
juice] or to take them into town," where there is more of a
market for them, he said.
the rainy season we have nothing to do but rub shoulders with poverty
the majority of the young men and women who move to Bamako and other
urban areas do not fare much better there than they did in the countryside,
because in the city they have to start from scratch and pay for
things they used to just pull out of the ground.
they are busy trying to find work. They do whatever work they can
find - labourer, factory worker, hawker - and if they don't find
anything to provide for their immediate needs, they get into theft
and robbery," Drissa Guindo, national director of
youth at the Ministry of Youth and Sport, told IRIN.
only a handful that succeed."
has tried everything from selling sunglasses to building work, and
shoe-shining. He is now a rickshaw driver by day and a security
guard by night. He says his children are no better off since his
move to the city: he gave his daughter up for adoption
to his aunt, and none of his children are in school.
the village, we worry more about what we will feed our children
than their education," he said. "I'd like to
put them in school, but our financial situation makes that impossible."
He hopes in two years to make enough money to enrol his youngest
to find work in Bamako, is now planning to go abroad.
It is a choice that 70 percent of young migrants
make after internal movement fails to produce results, the NGO Mali-Folkecenter
is worse for young girls, who are increasingly
migrating because of poverty and in search money for a dowry. They
find work as cooks, maids, nannies and in small businesses.
the Association d'aide aux aides ménagères,
an agency that places girls looking for work with families, many
girls are exploited because they are young, easily
manipulated, unaware of their rights and afraid to expose their
employers. In the worst of conditions, the association says, they
work more than 15 hours a day, are beaten, badly fed, poorly
paid and treated like quasi slaves.
don't go to work in a town to prepare our future as wives, who will?
It's the only way we can afford clothes, shoes and cooking utensils
to take back to our village," said 15-year-old servant Amina
Coulibaly. "Our mothers and sisters did the same."
have to give rural youth the means to stay in their communities,"
said Soumana Satao, director-general of the government's Agency
for the Promotion of Youth Employment. "Otherwise, we will
not be able to stop this rural exodus."
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