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UWC attracts partnership funding and makes an impact in the study of migration and mobilities in Africa

Two global migration projects involving academics from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) have been awarded partnership funding of Can$2.5 million each from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). 

Urban Sanctuary, Migrant Solidarity, and Hospitality in Global Perspective

Dr Leah Koskimaki, a senior lecturer at the Institute for Social Development (ISD) at the University of the Western Cape, is a co-applicant in a global migration study awarded a grant of Can$2.5 million CAD or R30 million over the next seven years. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) partnership project, Urban Sanctuary, Migrant Solidarity, and Hospitality in Global Perspective, led by principal investigator Professor Harald Bauder – professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada – aims to help urban decision-makers develop innovative policies of migrant and refugee inclusion while enhancing scholarly knowledge.

Dr Koskimaki is a member of an interdisciplinary team of 36 academics and 36 partner organisations from around the world who has started work this year on research toward co-developing policies and practices of accommodating vulnerable migrants and refugees in major urban centres in Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America. With the support of Professor Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC): Academic, the project will enhance UWC’s academic and community partnerships and internationalisation and provide funding for postgraduate research, workshops and activities related to migrant and refugee concerns. Dr Koskimaki and ISD Master’s student Perfect Mazani are working with the Africa Hub, led by the University of Ghana, in the first phase, which includes building a literature review on the potential for social inclusion and hospitality for migrants in Africa. 

South-South Migration and Migrant Food Insecurity

Professor Mulugeta Dinbabo at ISD and Professor Daniel Tevera in the Department of Geography, Environmental Studies and Tourism are co-applicants in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Crush (principal investigator) at the Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada for an SSHRC grant also worth Can$2.5 million. The South-South Migration and Migrant Food Insecurity: Interactions, Impacts and Remedies (MiFood Project) on migration and food security involves collaborators Professor Bradley Rink in the Department of Geography, Environmental Studies and Tourism, and Professor Amiena Bayat and Sergio Carciotto at ISD.

According to Prof Dinbabo, the MiFood Project builds on the strong foundation laid by the network and of partner institutions, co-investigators, and collaborators from seven Canadian universities together with teams from partners in China, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Mozambique, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Qatar, South Africa, and Singapore. The project proposal was submitted to the SSHRC in collaboration with the Office of the DVC: Academic. The application underwent a double review process with panels convened by the SSHRC and was finally approved for the next seven years. Several UWC academicians, researchers and postgraduate students have been included for the successful implementation of the project.

 This project aims to design and implement a new global research and knowledge mobilisation agenda on the interactions between international and internal South-South migration and food security; compare the food security vulnerabilities of migrant women, men, and children in different cities, migration corridors and migrant-sending communities across the Global South; examine how the transformation of food systems is generating new forms of migration, precarious migrant employment and food insecurity; and ensure that the neglected migration and food security nexus becomes a major focus of attention on global, national and local development agendas.

Migration and Mobilities Interdisciplinary Collective in Africa 

These two successful research grants are building on the success of the recently formed Migration and Mobilities Interdisciplinary Collective in Africa (MMICA), an Apex Project in the Office of the DVC: Academic and coordinated by Dr Koskimaki. MMICA is a collaboration across five faculties and aims to further understand the practices, meanings and impacts of migration and mobilities in the African and global context. 

The initiative aims to strengthen partnerships locally, regionally and globally, to promote a new generation of academics and researchers through teaching and capacity building, and to promote social transformation through policy intervention, advocacy and community engagement. 

UWC and International Organization for Migration (IOM)

UWC and International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office for Southern Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise strategic partnership and cooperation between the two parties at the institutional level. The MoU will facilitate joint research projects and programmes on migration and related issues primarily in the Southern Africa region

New Master’s Programme in Migration Studies

UWC, via the Office of the DVC: Academic, has also developed a new Master’s Programme in Migration Studies to prepare students to investigate and respond to migration-related societal challenges. It aims to develop highly skilled experts and researchers in the field of migration. The new interdisciplinary programme cuts across all faculties and is intended to start in the 2023 academic year. Prof Lawack noted: “As project sponsor I am very excited to carve out our role and impact in Migration and Mobilities research on the African continent”. 

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