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April 2012 Volume 19 Number 2
Africa: Migrants, Poverty
South Africa. The five BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, met in New Delhi in March 2012 to celebrate their rising global influence. The term BRIC was coined in 2001 by a Goldman Sachs economist, the first BRIC meeting was held in 2009, and BRICS in 2012 are trying to develop alternatives to the dollar and the World Bank to spur development and trade.<< back
A March 2012 riot linked to an election in Grabouw highlighted the tensions associated with internal migration in South Africa. Fruit farmers in the Western Cape rely on several thousand internal migrants from the Eastern Cape to harvest their fruit. Labor brokers transport migrants in January-February to pick fruit for R63 a day, but some migrants use the transportation provided by farmers to seek better-paying jobs in Western Cape, including packinghouse jobs that pay R114 a day.
In the past, internal migrants returned to villages after labor-intensive harvests were completed in May. However, more are staying in the Western Cape, moving from hostels on farms into informal settlements and increasing the demand for housing, schooling and health-care facilities. Inadequate services in some of these informal settlements prompted the riots in March 2012.
The governing African National Congress celebrated its centennial in January 2012, just before a woman was trampled as students rushed for the remaining places at the University of Johannesburg, where 85,000 students applied for 11,000 places. The ANC-led government wants some potential college students to attend Further Education and Training technical schools, but graduates of Technical Schools say that employers do not value the credentials they issue.
Libya. There were over a million migrant workers in Libya before the civil war that resulted in the removal of Muammar Gaddafi broke out in 2011. In spring 2012, the number of migrants had fallen and the Libyan Ministry of Labor announced that all irregular migrants had to leave the country by March 4, 2012.
The return of migrants reduced remittances to Mali, a landlocked country of 15 million in west Africa. According to one estimate, each migrant in Libya supported seven people in Mali. Ethnic Tuareg have long opposed the Mali government, and their acquisition of weapons from Libya and elsewhere enabled them to defeat government forces on several occasions, displacing several hundred thousand Malians in winter and spring 2012.
Poverty. The number of people living on less than $1.25 a day, defined as extreme poverty, fell around the world between 2005 and 2008 despite the global recession. For the first time, the share of sub-Saharan African residents in extreme poverty fell below 50 percent. The most dramatic poverty reduction was in China, where the share of residents living in extreme poverty fell from 84 percent in 1981 to 13 percent in 2008.