Journey to Safety: Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for Reducing HIV and Other Vulnerabilities of Migrants, their Families and Communities31 Dec 2007
The project aims to ensure safe and informed migration for migrant communities of Gujarat by providing access to and promoting use of relevant information and services, including resources on HIV/AIDS. It also serves to empower women by promoting social and economic participation with the help of ICTs.
The large-scale economic migration from Orissa to Gujarat is triggered by both pull and push factors. The single-cropping pattern in most rural economies in Orissa, small land-holdings, poor irrigation facilities, restricted industrial infrastructure and a history of migration outside the state for generations – especially true in districts such as Ganjam and Nayagarh – have all played their part.
The principal pull factor is obviously the availability of jobs in a more industrially developed state. The textile, shipwrecking and, to some extent, diamond cutting industries in Gujarat are hugely dependent on migrant labour. Migrant workers from Orissa are known to undertake some of the most hazardous jobs; hence there is a huge demand for them in Gujarat’s big business cities such as Surat.
For the source communities too, migration has proved rewarding. It has contributed substantially to the economy of districts like Ganjam, and the benefi ts are seen both at macro and micro-economic levels. Communities with high volumes of economic migration are invariably better off economically and socially than similar non-migrant communities.
However, migrants are often unaware of whether they have been exposed to HIV and the potential-risk this may pose to their spouses and children. The spouses of migrants who are left behind also fi nd themselves in vulnerable situations. They are at risk of sexual exploitation, particularly when debts have been incurred to pay for the cost of migration. Women who choose to migrate are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation. The lack of substantial involvement of migrant returnees, spouses of migrants as well as migrant source communities in HIV prevention responses adds to the vulnerability of the community.
The UNDP-facilitated Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) project is a source-destination intervention for Orissa-Gujarat migration. In Orissa, ICT-cum-activity centres have been set up in Ganjam and Nayagarh districts, both of which contribute substantial numbers of migrants to Gujarat.