Migration In South Asia: Poverty And Vulnerability’ Report 2020 Launched Globally

Migration In South Asia: Poverty And Vulnerability’ Report 2020 Launched Globally

“Poverty, declining livelihood and employment opportunities and increasing violence targeting specific vulnerable communities in South Asian countries have triggered internal, intra-regional and international migrations” – says SAAPE report: Migration in South Asia Poverty and Vulnerability.

04 September, 2020

Neoliberalism, coupled with tightening of international borders to stop the migration of the poor are making progressive legislation an onerous task, says the report launched by South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), today on its official website, .

The report suggests easy cross-border travel in South Asia and strongly recommends the revival of regional cooperation by activating South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It also advocates for the strengthening of protection mechanisms for the migrant workers in various GCC and other labour importing countries.

This edition of the report published by SAAPE attempts to explore the underlying issues of migration of the vulnerable and the poor, from both the country and a regional perspective. It substantially highlights and discusses the important drivers of poverty and migration.

The major issues that the report covers are:

  • Inter-connectedness of poverty, inequality and migration and rising vulnerabilities and the ever widening vicious cycle of poverty.
  • How poverty and vulnerability induces migration and, this involuntary migration reinforces the former.
  • Neoliberalism and its relation to poverty and migration.
  • The question of women’s migration.
  • Political economy of poverty and inequality in South Asia and a comprehensive investigation of the state responses to deal with those.
  • State responses to migration, emigration and refugees in South Asia.
  • Impact and implications of COVID-19 on the migration scenarios of South Asian countries

“The analysis in the report is sharp, locally relevant and overall a South Asia honest document on what are the ground realities. It is undoubtedly one of the best reports produced by SAAPE and it is grounded in both data and sharp analysis which does not betray the truth of the contexts faced by migrants.” said Shobha Raghuram, founding member of SAAPE.

“This report will equally appeal to academicians, activists and policy planners, as it appropriately blends systematic analyses with information available in the public media domain.” said Netra Timsina, Regional Coordinator of SAAPE.


The online launching of the report will follow a number of other events in SAAPE member countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka when normalcy comes after the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is available here.

Download the report!

Follow the online conversation on Twitter/Facebook by using #MigrationinSouthAsia, @saape_network.
For further details, please contact Praman Adhikari at praman.saape@gmail.com and Reshma Shakya at reshma.saape@gmail.com at SAAPE secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal.

“This remarkable study of the circumstances that compel the migration of the poorest and most vulnerable within and across the countries of South Asia and of the socio-economic injustices and human rights abuses they face, has come at an opportune time when the Covid pandemic unexpectedly put their plight in the forefront of public attention everywhere. All the more reason there to be grateful for what SAAPE has given us by way of a wealth of vital information, analytical acuity, and solid proposals for making the lives of these men, women and their families more livable, just and secure.”

– Achin Vanaik
Former Professor, University of Delhi, India

SAAPE has produced a very timely, excellent report which comprehensively analyses different streams of working-class migration within and across the South Asian region. The links between poverty and migration are well researched and elaborated from an intersectional perspective identifying the structural drivers of migration and the multiple vulnerabilities experienced by migrants as they move from rural to urban settings or across borders. It highlights how neoliberal economic policies mesh with populist authoritarian discourses, intensified by inter regional conflict, which cast migrants as ‘others’, undeserving of basic social citizenship entitlements, despite the major contribution they make to the economies of the region.

A critical assessment is made of the limitations of state policies on migration and a strong argument with thoughtful insights presented for specific national and regional migration policies as well as for policy interventions that address the structural issues of poverty and inequality, acknowledge the agency of migrant workers and enable the portability of social citizenship rights through universal social provisioning within the region as a whole. This report is an extremely useful, important and valuable resource for activists, policy makers, and development studies scholars.

– Amrita Chhachhi
Erasmus University, The Netherlands

This report has brought facts, figures and arguments to show the other side of the much publicised high growth in South Asia. The vast majority of people in South Asia live in the darkness of poverty, uncertainty, insecurity, constant threat on lives and livelihood with increasing air and water pollution, shrinking rivers, deforestation and so on. In desperate search for job and security these people take risk to move with uncertainty, there has been a considerable expansion in the flow of people migrating from their native places and countries.
Increasing militarization, ethnic and communal violence, state surveillance and repression multiply the sufferings and livelihood uncertainties of the poor. The report confirms that to change the scenario of deepening poverty and vulnerability, our first priority should be to build effective solidarity of people among South Asian countries

– Anu Muhammad
Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh

“The SAAPE Poverty and Vulnerability Report 2020 – Migration in South Asia is a necessary working tool for anyone interested or studying subjects related to poverty, social inequality and migration. These are global issues but have a specific and dramatic weight in South Asia.

The authors offer us a diversity of perspectives and analysis on these subjects. In seven chapters, they address topics ranging from the conceptualization of migration in South Asia and its determinants, the circumstances and causes of female migration, the role and responses of the State to the phenomenon, linking the impact of neoliberal agendas to the spread of poverty and inequality. The report includes an up-to-date study on the regional impact of Covid-19 on migration and a final chapter, imagining possible future scenarios, showing that “the way forward has to be a democratic revival, where economic growth does not preclude equitable distribution of wealth”.

The report is useful for all those who need to keep themselves updated on the topics covered in the book, which are part of the main challenges of the present time.

– Beatriz Bissio
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The lockdown during Covid-19 Pandemic exposed one of the cruelest realities of contemporary development experience when millions of migrant labour in urban areas were forced to be on the road. They were the distress migrants from rural areas who had gone out in search of livelihood. This report vividly captures the phenomenon of vulnerability accompanying widespread, multidimensional poverty in South Asian countries. The experts marshall systematic evidence to show that longstanding structural inequalities and deprivations lay at the root of such migration which get accentuated as a result of wars, communal drives and natural disasters. Those who wish to see a better future for South Asia will find this report of great value both to understand the reality and get insights for policy and social action.

– Manoranjan Mohanty
Former Professor, University of Delhi, India

This path breaking Report on human migration in South Asia in 2020 highlights the enduring importance of mobility in the region and its strikingly contemporary relevance in COVID times. It succeeds wonderfully in underlining the many commonalities that drive migration in the region but above all in emphasising the deeply political nature of migration, the way inequality, poverty and neoliberal ideology are braided together by state policy to produce “ agrarian distress” and shape migration within and across the region. No one reading the report will ever come out believing that human migration is merely a “natural “phenomena of an overwhelmingly poor and overpopulated region.

– Prabhu Mohapatra
University of Delhi, India