Migration, is that an ever unclear concept?

Greetings from sunny Cape Town, where I had the chance to visit for two reasons: First of all, to meet the Metropolis “family” in its Steering Committee meeting for two days and secondly, two days for facts and figures about food security in the urban areas around Africa and elsewhere.

The Metropolis Steering Committee spent a lot of time in planning and polishing up the list of the plenaries for the conference in Tampere next September. As it seems now, the topics are all in place and we have an overflow of good ideas for suitable and excellent speakers. The secretariat will now make its final decisions on whom to invite as speakers and how we will make sure that the variety of speakers is as wide as possible in terms of gender, age and nationality.


AFSUN is a Canadian funded African network that researches food security in the urban areas of Africa. Food security “refers to a household's or country's ability to provide future physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that fulfills the dietary needs and food preferences for living an active and healthy lifestyle” (FAO Agricultural and Development Economics Division).

For me, as a well-fed Western conference participant, it was fascinating to hear and see how the different speakers from China, India, Jamaica, Mexico and a long list of African countries described their own research on their countries’ food security. It is always very healthy for a West European to be reminded that food and nutrition are still not self-evident in most parts of the world. However, the most fascinating thing for me (at least this time) was that there was actually a set of indicators that were commonly used to collect data which then enabled comparisons between the different countries.

At the conference, I was a bit confused (again) with the concepts. When we discuss migration and migrants, we automatically think about cross-border migration, not moving within one nation. In southern Africa it did not matter at all whether you moved from the countryside to urban areas or from one country to another. The mechanisms are the same. In fact, or so I understood, there are more migrants in the inland China than in the cross-border migration in the whole world. Both in China and e.g. Egypt one can face racial discrimination between the Egyptians or Chinese who come from different parts of the country.

One small but very meaningful detail that I thought to be very wise and future-oriented was the case of Swaziland. All the school children get a meal during the school day! School lunches are also done in Finland and they have been a meaningful nutritional factor in getting the high results in the OECD PISA student assessments. Good for you Swaziland!

If anyone is interested in research on the food security in the urban areas of Africa, please check out this website: http://afsun.org/

I was told that eventually also the conference speakers’ PowerPoint slides will appear on this site.


Marja Nyrhinen

Marja Nyrhinen
Head Coordinator of Migration Issues
Secretary General of the Organising Team




Wagtail – migratory bird

The wagtail is the provincial bird of the Tampere Region

Wagtails are small birds with long tails which they wag frequently. Wagtails are slender, often colourful, ground-feeding insectivores of open country in the Old World. They are ground nesters, laying up to six speckled eggs at a time. Among their most conspicuous behaviours is a near constant tail wagging, a trait that has given the birds their common name.

(source: Wikipedia)