Local Government and Migration in Border Areas: Challenges and Opportunities
Discussing the management of cross-border migration at the local government level is rare. Migration management is generally considered a national government competency, regulated with national level laws (such as immigration and refugee legislation), and managed and enforced by national level institutions (the Department of Home Affairs or equivalent departments, police, army, customs, etc.). There has also been very little academic study of the impact of local government policies on migration, or of the effect of migration on public service provision at the local level. This research project, conducted from January 2007 – June 2008, was the ACMS’s first engagement with local government management of mobility; a theme it has developed extensively since then.
This comparative research project examined local government, migration management and service provision in two border municipalities in South Africa and Kenya. The municipalities were Nkomazi Municipality in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, bordering both Swaziland and Mozambique and Busia Municipality, bordering Uganda. The study documented the extent to which local government structures and local offices of national line agencies (Home Affairs/ Department of Immigration and Registration of Persons, Education, and the Police Service) took cross-border migration into account when planning local service provision, and analysed some of the structural implications of not taking migration into account. This study is unique in that it looks at rural municipalities in border regions, which, while affected by large volumes of migration, have received no institutional support or academic attention in relation to migration management to date.
The research was conducted as a collaboration between the Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) and the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS), Moi University, Kenya, with support from the Conflict and Governance Facility (CAGE) of the European Union.