Confusing terms, varying regional relevance, conflicting policies?

National and international policymakers and development organisations see great potential in migration as a way of reducing poverty and promoting development, particularly in migrants’ countries of origin. However, researchers emphasise the need for nuanced, region-specific knowledge of the factors limiting or supporting migrants’ contribution to development. A new field of “mobilities research” has arisen, encompassing complex studies of global and local movements of people, objects, capital, and information. Particularly in developing countries, people’s level of mobility determines their access to health services, education, employment, and various resources. In this project, NCCR North-South researchers draw on study results in West Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe to compare and contrast the nature and handling of migration and mobility in each region. By identifying commonalities, differences, and gaps in knowledge, the researchers aim to enhance the debates and policymaking shaping people’s mobility, particularly that of vulnerable populations – pastoralists or migrant workers – whose well-being depends on their ability to be mobile.

Research Project Co-leaders


Esther Schelling
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)

Basel, Switzerland

Susan Thieme
Development Study Group (DSGZ)

Zurich, Switzerland