Economic and social survival strategies of migrants in Southern Africa: a case study of Ghanaian migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa
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The international migrant stock has continued to grow at a fast pace increasing from 222 million in 2010 to 244 million in 2015. Reasons for migration are diverse and include conflicts, poverty and natural tragedies. South to South migration is the most prevalent on the African continent; similarly, half of migrants from developing countries, the world over, are estimated to reside in other developing countries. South Africa is amongst the continent’s most popular destinations for Africa’s migrants. Among the international migrants of African descent who reside in South Africa, are Ghanaians; a migrant population rarely considered by migration studies conducted in the country. Ghanaians receive less than 5% of the permits granted by South Africa to migrants every year. Among this lot of migrants, are undocumented Ghanaians who live in the country with little or no social protection. They are exposed to various health and social conditions and resort to survivalist strategies as a coping mechanism. However, very little is known about the specifics of the aforementioned challenges and the strategies they use to cope with these, in South Africa, for studies in this regard are largely non-existent. With the aim of filling this gap, this study explores the economic and social survival strategies of Ghanaian migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa. Using qualitative research methods, it draws data from 10 Key Informant Individual Interviews and three Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and analyses the experiences of documented and undocumented Ghanaian migrants in relation to access to livelihood, health, housing and their use of social networks in South Africa. The findings of this research indicated that economic reason is the main push factor for the migration of Ghanaians to South Africa. It is hoped that the relevant authorities in Ghana and South Africa that are positioned to address the challenges faced by migrants will find the results of this study useful in their efforts to mitigate the plight of documented and undocumented Ghanaian migrants in the informal sector of South Africa.