Ghana Journal of Geography

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Child Migration Decision Making in Ghana: The Actors and Processes

Emmanuel Makabu Jagri Tamanja


The discourse on child migration decision making tends to present children as vulnerable and
without agency. This presupposes that decisions are often imposed on the individual child who
only complies with decisions of adults. On the contrary, the process is complex and continuous,
and can only be well understood within the contexts in which such decisions are made. It involves
many actors and varying conditions under which the decisions are made. Therefore,
understanding child migration decision making requires a deeper understanding of the context
and the actors involved. Drawing on interviews with young migrants from rural farming
communities in the north east of Ghana to Accra, and using the child-in-family approach to
migration decision making, this paper examines the actors and intricacies in child migration
decision making in Ghana. In contrast with perceptions that migration decisions are often imposed
on children, this study finds a complex but congenial process on a continuum from unilateral, to
consultative and imposed, involving children, their parents and members of their communities.
The paper suggests that parents and policy makers be more proactive and sensitive to the concerns
of children, with local government and traditional authorities focusing on education, to expose the
realities of child migration before the decisions are made.

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