Livelihood and coping strategies of men and women in the context of male labour migration: A gender perspective: A case of Mazabuka and Kalomo Districts

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Malesu, Muwanei Peggy
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Labour migration is a situation where people move from one place to the other to look for employment so that they sustain their lives and that of their families. Labour migration existed in the past and still exists in Zambia, Africa and other parts of the world. The study focused on the livelihood and coping strategies in the context of male labour migration.The main objective was to examine the livelihood and coping strategies of men and women in the context of male labour migration .The specific objectives of the study were to examine the livelihood strategies of men and women, to examine the coping strategies of men and women and to suggest possible recommendations to improve the social and economic welfare of men and women. The study used semi-structured questionnaires, focus groups in order to generate information from the respondents. The study population comprised of 640 respondents and the sample size was comprised of 100 respondents. The study was conducted in Mazabuka and Kalabo districts. Quantitative data was analysed using Microsoft excel and the data was analysed using tables, percentages as well as totals to present and summarise data for easy analysis. Qualitative data was analysed using themes. Women and the families left behind sought livelihood and coping strategies to sustain their lives in the absence of their husbands. The study revealed that women changed their ways of life in terms of their livelihood and adopted some coping or survival strategies to help them run their households in the absence of their husbands. In terms of livelihood, they sold vegetables, rice and other food stuffs they grew and in return they earned income. In terms of coping strategies, they reduced on the consumption of meals, withdrew children from school so that they help them with agricultural activities and at times they sold their assets like land.The men who are the cane cutters also sought livelihood and coping strategies where they went. Apart from feeding themselves, cane cutters also fed their families back home in Kalabo. Cane cutters also sold some merchandise so as to earn a living and also adopted some coping strategies like reduction in expenditure so that they reserve money for important things needed for them and their families. The study also discovered that cane cutters’ wives adopted more of the economic coping strategies than their husbands. The study also revealed that some of the strategies adopted did not benefit the men and women.According to the study, women left behind by their spouses faced some economic challenges such that some of them were forced to exchange sex for food or money and they became vulnerable to HIV. On the other hand some of their husbands were also involved in extra-marital affairs and that exposed them to HIV and AIDS.The study recommended that Zambia Sugar Company should formulate a deliberate policy to allow cane cutters to be accompanied by their families as a way of enhancing their livelihoods and also Government and NGOs to sensitise the level of awareness of the whole community on gender issues.
Labour migration-Zambia , Coping strategy-Zambia , Livelihood diversification