In the sahelian countries of West Africa,

In
the sahelian countries of West Africa, the traditional agriculture employs a significant proportion of the working population, predominantly rural young.
At the end of the short rainy seasons, many rural young go abroad or flee to big towns in
search of better life conditions. This phenomenon is called rural young exodus
and has great consequences on the agricultural activities particularly in terms
of agricultural labors availability in the villages. The question promoting
rural exodus or modernizing agriculture is a challenge in many countries.

Since
the independence of Sahelian countries in the 1960’S, rural exodus has been
observed at an increasing rate and one reason is the unemployment and poverty
in rural areas.

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 “In the western part of Niger, the migrations from
villages to cities represent one of the major answers to the rural poverty.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants flee every year from the countryside to the
cities of the inside Niger or to the capitals of neighboring countries such as
Abidjan, Cotonou, Lomé and Lagos” (Gilliard). Young leave their village and
flee for the cities because of unemployment due to the conditions of the
traditional agriculture which use rudimentary means and techniques for farming.
The contribution of rural exodus in the local economy is very important and during
the period of drought, the rural economy of Niger depends in large part on the money sent by migrants,
most of which is used to cover basic family needs like foods during the year of
hunger. So, rural exodus supports government efforts to tackle the impact of
drought on the livelihoods of rural populations. In many villages rural exodus
is seen as a solution for the lack of agricultural practices modernization.   

Although
these advantages, rural exodus have other significant consequences in terms of
social and cultural impacts that could be a great deal of damage for the
harmony of life in the villages while modernization of agriculture can be a
local and endogenous solution for the problem of development in the villages.
Some comparisons in terms of consequences and opportunities could be done
between the situations of fleeing for exodus and staying in the villages by
modernization of farming practices. 

First, during
their stay abroad, migrants discover new livings arrangements and kept new
habits and ideas different from their life in the villages. They introduce new
habits and reject their local customs and attempted to impose their new life to
the others, while without exodus local customs and traditions will be protected
against external influences.

Second, rural
exodus is the cause of rural depopulation and leads to “uncontrolled
urbanization and regional
disparities”(Gilbert and Gugler) while modernization of agriculture helps to
rural development and contributing to poverty reduction in the villages  .

Third, with
rural exodus villages are losing good arm for agricultural development while
modernization of agriculture creates local jobs and helps to food security.

For
conciling effects of exodus on the life the villages, governments were trying
to implement new policies by activities in rural areas such as Cash for Work,
Food for Work and modernization of agriculture by the “development of
irrigation” (Arnon) during the dry season.

Based
on many studies, a research paper of the permanent interstate committee for
Drought control in the Sahel (CILSS), the development of irrigation in the
rural areas is an important solution for reducing the young migration to town.
In many areas where irrigation has been developed, the rate of exodus departure
has been reduced.

Developing
irrigation is an important factor to promote local development and reduce
poverty. From the irrigated perimeters, farmers can harvest two or three times
and young could find job in their own area during the months of the dry season
and no need to abroad.

Finally,
rural exodus can be a factor of local development, but must be controlled in
order to prevent and limit the consequences in terms of social and cultural
shocks. The effects of rural exodus will be benefit and a factor of harmonious
development if migrants after their return home respect their local customs
without shocking and forcing local perceptions to change. The inputs of
migrants could better help in agricultural modernization in the villages and
enhance local development.