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NCCR North-South - Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Thank you for visiting the website of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South. The NCCR North-South programme formally ended in June 2014.

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Multilocal Livelihoods

Sustaining Livelihoods in Translocal and Transnational Settings


    Livelihood diversification is increasingly depending on migration. Migration has a longstanding history, however borders, immigration rules and migration patterns are changing over time. A common feature is that only parts of families migrate, causing a multi-locality of households. This implies that migration contributes to sustaining income but is also often causing high social costs like family separation or exploitation. Moreover while pressure on natural resources can cause migration, migration can also cause new conflicts on rights of access to natural resources but also access to labour markets, social protection and infrastructure. An in-depth analysis of migration patterns, their impact on people’s livelihoods as well as on local and regional economies can show entry points for policies supporting migration affected people in sending and receiving countries.


    The aim of the project is to contribute to an integrated conceptualisation of the geographic and the social space by analysing the following research questions 

    (1) What are the patterns of household multi-locality, as a consequence of migration, and the resulting risks and potentials for livelihoods?, and

    (2) Theoretically, how can people’s livelihoods be embedded in wider societal structures and power constellations while considering specific migration dynamics such as its attended multi-locality of households?

    This will give insights in risks and potentials that migration bears for livelihoods on individual, local and regional levels. It will further allow integrating migration pattern into a regional sustainable development strategy and identify pathways for mitigating the vulnerability of migrants and their non-migrating family members.


    Research focuses on the increasing multi-locality of households, its reasons and impacts on people’s livelihoods. Particular attention is given to social categories such as gender, age and ethnicity. Migration affects both sending and receiving countries substantially, concerning individuals, local communities, as well as external relations between nation-states. To grasp the geographical and social dimensions of this multi-locality the project integrates the sustainable livelihoods approach, Bourdieu’s theory of practice and the concept of trans-national migration and social spaces. The research is based on an integrative, comparative and mainly qualitative approach consisting of theory building, empirical case studies and application of the findings. At the centre of the empirical studies is the analysis of individual migration trajectories. Therefore research is multi-local, considering family members, as migrants and non-migrants in receiving and sending regions. Three sub-projects are carried out in Southeast Asia (Nepal-India-Bangladesh), Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan and migrant destination countries Kazakhstan and Russia) and the Caribbean and Central American region (Guatemala-Mexico).


    “Population pressure and multi-dimensional migration” was identified as one core-problem of unsustainable development within the NCCR North-South framework. Scientific outputs are referring to generalised knowledge about global migration patterns its causes, problems and potentials related to the multi-locality of people’s livelihoods; a methodological contribution in the field of multi-locality research and following migration trajectories; a theoretical contribution towards an integrative approach of migration and development; and policy dialogue and recommendations towards integrating the multi-locality of livelihoods within a broader context of economic and social  evelopment frameworks and the application of results achieved through partnership actions.


Research 2001-2009

Study Areas

in the world:

The NCCR North-South is hosted by the University of Bern
and funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation