III. Internal Migration (The Rural-Urban Drift)

The city's got me feeling nauseous
My mind's confused and I'm afraid of my own shadow
Every time somebody does something for you here
They expect something back
I'm from the village
These city people showed me how to dance
And ... everything
Now I'm a party-goer
I'm forgetting my roots
I have lost my goal
I am turned around
I have lost my soul
I am upside-down
I was a country boy
Now I'm a city man
So many troubles
Bring me down ...
(Youssou N'Dour, J. P. Rykiel, H. Faye, and M. Savage, 1992, Xippi Music)

The effects of migration from Africa to "the West" on Africa is well-documented. It is estimated that over 100,000 trained African professionals are working in the West (West Africa 1995). This "brain-drain" has resulted in the need for a massive amount of assistance from foreign donors. Over 100,000 foreign 'experts' currently work in Africa -- amounting to development aid costs of $4 billion. The effects of country-to-country migration within Africa is also a focus of research and concern. The impact of civil wars and poverty in other countries shows up in The Gambia's census data on foreign nationals. A subject which is not as well documented is the internal movement in African societies from rural to urban centers -- especially with respect to its impacts on the sending community. I intend to briefly explore the 'rural-urban drift' in The Gambia and discuss some of its implications.

Table 3 breaks out dependency ratios by Local Government Area for the years 1973-1993. The table highlights trends in the rural and urban areas. In the 5 rural LGAs, dependency ratios have climbed over the 100 mark. Most of the figure comes from the contribution of the child dependency ratio. High fertility in the rural areas contributes to this trend, but so does the exodus of young adults to the Kombo (Banjul + Kanifing). As Banjul has always been a location of immigrants and civil servants, it is not surprising that it exhibits the lowest dependency ratio. Brikama and Kanifing are the LGAS most effected by swings in immigration patterns -- but Kanifing is certainly more similar to Banjul than Brikama with respect to age structure.

Pyramid 3 demonstrates that the source of the lower dependency ratio is traceable to the decline of the 0-4 age group and the rise of the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups. Why are these age groups increasing? A look at figure 4 reveals that primary school enrollment in rural regions has remained fairly constant despite high fertility. Does this mean that a lower percentage of rural children are attending school? No -- a look at the enrollments in the Kombo and Brikama demonstrate a rise in school enrollment which is higher than the rise in the school age population. Increasingly, children are being sent to school in the Kombo area. Obviously, some of these children do not return when their studies are complete -- thus furthering the growth of the Kombo.

Pyramid 4 investigates the Georgetown LGA. This upcountry area has very little urban activity (with only one town of note -- Bansang) and is not effected by migration. The series of pyramids clearly shows the transformation from an age-sex structure which resembled the country at large to one which is composed mostly of children under 10 and older adults. Although the 20-44 female population did decline, the real impact is seen on the male population in that age range which declined from 20% to 14% of the overall population. There is every reason to believe that these trends will continue unless more efforts are made to develop all of the country and not just the Kombo.

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