In this colloquium, Achilles Kallergis discussed environmental mobility in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. It considered environmental mobility in the broader context of the region's urbanization. Drawing on evidence from participatory research in Accra, Dar es Salaam, Freetown, and Monrovia, Kallergis discussed the role of low-income urban neighborhoods as receiving areas simultaneously shaped by frequent, recurring mobility and immobility.
The location and living conditions in these neighborhoods put migrants and hosts at environmental risk, perpetuating a cycle of displacement and compromising the adaptation outcomes of migration. While the role of these ‘urban estuaries’ has been increasingly recognized in the growing migration scholarship, little attention has been given to the contradictions that occur between international, regional, and national norm-setting that aim to improve mobility outcomes and incorporate movements due to environmental events, and local urban processes that seek to slow, restrict, and redirect mobility towards and within rapidly growing cities, through inertia, evictions, and relocation.
Kallergis concluded that more attention to local knowledge and practice is necessary to inform the nature and characteristics of unregulated mobility dynamics occurring in Africa’s low-income neighborhoods. This requires a rethinking of how mobility norms and policies are developed, translated, and embedded in local contexts, particularly how they interact with longstanding urban strategies that aim to reconfigure mobility in cities.
Achilles Kallergis is Assistant Professor at the New School for Social Research, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility.
Ayşe Çağlar, IWM Permanent Fellow and Head of the Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration, provided commentary and moderated the discussion.