The Social and Reproductive Health Implications of Independent North-South Child Migration in Ghana

  • SO Kwankye


Independent north-south migration of children has become a strategy in
response to widespread poverty in Northern Ghana. Children migrate independently of their parents and other relations to southern cities, cocoa
producing areas and mining towns. The majority of these migrants are females, often with little or no education. In the cities they work mainly as kayayei or head porters at the main market centres and lorry parks. With some of them living virtually on the streets and in kiosks, in front of shops and in uncompleted buildings, the migrant kayayei are exposed to physical, environmental, sexual and reproductive health risks, notwithstanding the valuable services they provide and from which they make a living. This paper examines this emerging phenomenon using a 2005 survey of 451 north-south independent child migrants in Accra and Kumasi to highlight the social and reproductive health implications of the movement of these youngsters to southern Ghanaian cities and towns. Using both quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques, the paper finds among other things that while some of the child migrants reduce their poverty by migrating to southern cities and towns, others return home with unplanned pregnancies and sometimes terminal illnesses which render their migration socio-economically unproductive.

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eISSN: 0855-4412
print ISSN: 0855-4412