National migration, urbanisation conference kicks off

The first national Migration and Urbanisation Conference, which seeks to bring together stakeholders interested in the study of migration, kicks off today.

Hosted by the Department of Social Development and Statistics South Africa, the five-day virtual conference will establish a knowledge base of issues related to various aspects of migration and urbanisation to enable evidence to drive forward the drafting of policy and planning.

The effects of COVID-19 on international and national migration is an issue that will cut across all the conference themes.

In her opening address, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu called on the conference participants to harness the prospect of people, public, private, civic, academic, and multilateral partnerships towards creatively unlocking the challenges of reliable and up to date population data that programme planners and implementers may access and use across all spheres of government.

“Resolving this challenge should strengthen our resolve for evidence-based policy and programme development, in defining future paths upon which our democratic dates will be improved.

“We consciously need to be thoroughly conversant with the current and future variables and developments that are relevant to patterns of interprovincial, regional, Continental and global migration by our citizens,” Zulu said.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) Acting Deputy-Director General, Nozipho Shabalala, said migration is a critical topic in every part of the globe at the moment.

Shabalala said the movement of people within the country and movement of people across national borders, are on the agenda of national governments, regional bodies and global multilateral organisations.

South Africa is dealing with both internal and international migration, and the movement of people from global areas to urban areas, which is at the core to urbanisation.

“Discussions and engagements on policy, positions, planning and programmes in this critical social political and economic areas is urgent and important, as we seek knowledge in lasting solutions at the national, regional and global level,” Shabalala said.

She added that the full impact of COVID-19 on economies of different countries and its impact on migration and urbanisation is yet to be analysed and quantified.

“As Stats SA, we are here to share and we are here to learn, with an objective of improving our systems [and] our methods, and the overall quality for our products on internal and international migration,” the acting Deputy-Director General said.

The 2020 Mid-Year Population Estimates published by Statistics South Africa estimated that there are 3.9 million migrants in South Africa.

In December 2020, Social Development Department, together with the European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched the “Children on the Move” programme to assist with the provision of basic services to documented and undocumented children living in South Africa.

Source: South African Government News Agency