An Analysis of the Determinants of Rural to Urban Migration Among Rural Youths in Northern and Western Provinces of Rwanda

  • E Mutandwa
  • N Kanuma Taremwa
  • P Uwimana
  • C Gakwandi
  • F Mugisha
Keywords: rural to urban migration, Nyabihu, Burera, factor analysis, cluster analysis, rural youths, Rwanda


The problem of rural to urban migration is a relatively old and ubiquitous phenomenon globally. However, in recent years, it has become a cause of concern at the global, regional and national levels. The unprecedented levels of urbanization characteristic to most developing countries have resulted in the movement of people from rural to urban areas subsequently resulting in the emergence of slums and informal settlements. Like many developing countries, Rwanda has been facing increasing challenges related to rural to urban migration. It is in this context that the broad objective was to analyze factors that determine rural youths’ decision to migrate to urban areas in Nyabihu (Western Province) and Burera (Northern Province). A combination of non-probability and probability sampling methods were used to select a total of 113 for inclusion into the survey. Structured questionnaires were used as the principal data collection instruments. Secondary data was used to complement primary data collected in this study. The study was pillared on two hypotheses. Firstly, the lower the income an individual, the higher the probability of migrating to urban areas. Second, the study also postulated that the desire for better employment opportunities explains the likelihood to migrate. The results of the study showed that youths who are likely to migrate are predominantly aged between 17 to 22 years, and earn incomes of less than 34129Frw per month, are male, have primary education, are currently not employed. Youths migrate for a number of reasons which include the need for temporary and permanent job opportunities, access to social services and infrastructure, as well as schooling opportunities. Factor analysis showed that there are three factors which are critical in rural to urban migration and these are availability of social services in rural areas, which is likely to deter youths from migrating. However, presumed stable jobs in the cities and towns coupled with an inauspicious social environment in rural areas are likely to give incentive to youths to migrate from rural to urban areas. The problem of rural to urban migration is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive holistic policy strategy emphasizing on income diversification to non-agricultural activities, vocational skills, public and private sector partnerships and management of value chains for effective mainstreaming of disadvantaged youths into development processes of the country.

Key words: rural to urban migration, Nyabihu, Burera, factor analysis, cluster analysis, rural youths, Rwanda

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2305-2678