O Level Notes : Geography - Settlement And Population - Population Policies

The term migration refers to the movement of people from one area to another, usually on a permanent basis. Migration can be referred to as internal, if it does not involve the crossing of international boundaries. It is referred to as international if it involves the crossing of international boundaries.

Migration is constituted by two groups of people which are: 


These are people who leave a country leading to depopulation in the sending area. In most cases emigration results in population growth in the destination or receiving area. Population growth in the destination area often results in problems like a strain on social service delivery, an increase in social pathology like drug abuse and prostitution and in some cases it degenerates into xenophobia attack of foreigners by hosts, for example, those experienced in SouthAfrica. 


These are people moving into a country from their assigned areas where they reside. Immigration results in a decline of population in the sending area and population growth in the destination areas. These effects of migration on the receiving areas are the same. 

Migration can be classified as:


Internal migration

Internal migration involves the movement of people within their nation boundaries. They do not cross borders into other countries and there is no need for travelling documents. 

International migration

These are movements which involves the movement of people from one country to another resulting in permanent change of home. It does not include those who go to other countries to import goods. 

Forced or Involuntary migration

This involves the movement of people due to factors beyond their own control, such that they don't have any choice but to move to avoid death or perceived threats. Under forced migration the emigrants leave an area not because of only pull factors in their destination but because they are compelled to leave due to threats such as political or religious persecution. 

Voluntary migration

This is when people move from one area to another because they are willing to do so. They are attracted by opportunities in their destinations. 

The factors which affect migration are grouped into two: 

Pull factors

These favourable conditions which attract perceived at the destination. The area one is migrating to may have certain advantages which attract(pull) migrants. For example, availability of employment opportunities and better salaries in South Africa are pull factors to most Zimbabwean teachers and doctors. The availability of higher education facilities is pull factors for more school leavers. 

Push factors

These are unfavourable conditions which repel or send people away. These are disadvantages perceived in the sending region. Wars, political persecution and diseases are push factors in most African countries where people migrate to Europe and NorthAmerica.


Internal migration


  1. Rural- urban migration

It is the movement of people from rural areas to town and cities. The rate of rural- urban migration is high in developing countries and low in developed countries. 

Causes of rural- urban migration

  • The bright lights effect
  • The need for further education
  • Seeking for employment
  • Political persecution
  • Wars, for example, during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle most rural areas were affected while urban areas were viewed as safer
  • Religious persecution, for example, allegations of witchcraft
  • Transfer at work, for example, a teacher transfers to go and teach in an urban area

Effects of rural- urban migration in urban areas (receiving area)


  • Increased pressure on urban infrastructure
  • High crime rates
  • Prostitution
  • Poor sanitation
  • Shortage of accommodation
  • Growth of squatter settlements
  • High levels of unemployment
  • Age- sex imbalance- youths migrate to towns and cities


Effects of rural- urban migration to rural areas (sending area)

  • Ghost settlements


 The effects rural- urban migration

  1. Urban- rural migration 


This is the movement of people from towns and cities to rural counterparts. The causes of such movements include:


  • Retirement
  • retrenchment from work
  • Transfer at work
  • Desire for a fresh environment such as in most developed countries urban areas are noisy and dirty due to pollution


Effects of urban- rural migration to sending areas

  • Reduced pressure on accommodation
  • More employment opportunities
  • Adecrease in supply of labour
  • Increased supply of farm produce 

Effects on receiving areas

  • Increased utilisation of land
  • Development due to new ideas from towns
  • Erosion of rural culture- those from urban areas introduce new culture in terms of dressing and behaviour
  • An increase in the number of elderly. Usually those migrating to rural areas are retiring


  1. Intra- urban migration

It is the movement of people from one urban area to another whereas intra- rural migration is migration from one rural area to another. The causes of such forms of migration are:

  • Marriage
  • Seeking for new accommodation or more fertile land
  • Employment transfer
  • Seeking for greener pastures


 A refugee is a person who is forced to flee from his or her country because of either founded or unfounded fears. Refugees are not willing to return to their original countries of residence unless their causes of fear have been addressed.


Causes of refugees

People are forced to flee their countries due to various environmental, religious and

political reasons. Some of these include:

  • Religious persecution.
  • Political persecution.
  • Threats from natural disasters like floods ,earthquakes, and cyclones.
  • Outbreak of wars.
  • Hunger and starvation.
  • Economic hardships.
  • Changes in climatic conditions also trigger refugees. It is projected that in the near future several people will be forced to flee their countries of origin due to impending doom associated with climate change for example heat waves.


Effects of refugees

The inward movement of many people in an area often results in several

environmental social and economic problems. Some of these includes;

  • Refugees often results in massive deforestation.
  • Higher risks on the outbreak of hygienic diseases
  • Strain on national budget due to a rapid increase in population numbers.

  • Disagreements between  host  people  and  refugees  normally degenerate into xenophobic attacks.
  • Fuel crisis due to an increased demand for fuel.
  • National budgets of the host countries are strained.
  • The host country enjoys a larger base of labour force.
  • Strain on social service delivery system like health and education.


Refugee distribution inAfrica

Current studies have highlighted that Africa hosts about 26 percent of the World's

refugee population. The studies also projected that refugee numbers are bound to rapidly increase since several African countries are experiencing political and economic challenges.


Countries fights a among rivalry groups have forced several thousands of people to flee their homes. Nigeria is one of the most affected due to Boko- Harams attacks. Over 2 million. Since 2014 over 2100million people flee their areas of residence. Nigerian national flee to surrounding nations like Niger, Cameroon and Chad.


Uganda also offers refugees great support, they have an open border policy they also provide refugees with opportunities to start a new life. Uganda mostly accommodates refugees from South Sudan. Of all the African countries in 2017. Uganda  hosted  the  highest  number of  Sub  Saharan  refugees  about 1400million.DRC also accommodated more than 500 000 refugees in the same year. 

Solutions to refugee problems

There are several ways which can be used to deal with challenge caused by refugees

. Some of these include;

  • Repatriation; Repatriation refers to the process of creating safe routes for refugees so that they reunite with their relatives.
  • Naturalism; Naturalism  refers  to  efforts  done  by  the  government  to accommodate refugees. Naturalism involves the offering of access to documents like birth certificates and citizenship to refugees. In other words refugees are integrated into the host country of the countries in which they would have sought refuge in.
  • Refugees should be trained in income generating skills which would help them fend for their families. This development would go a long way in reducing the burden on the government to support these refugees.
  • Resettle refugees in areas with already developed infrastructure.
  • Giving refugees employment rights in the host country.
  • Initiating dialogue as a way of peace keeping will also help stop people fleeing from their countries causing problems in host countries.

Here is what has been discussed in this topic 

  • Population growth is affected by rates of birth, death and migration
  • Birth and  death  rates  are  high  in  developing  countries  and  low  in developed countries
  • The common  diseases  in  developing  countries  include  HIV/AIDS, kwashiorkor, malaria and cholera.
  • Developed countries experience diseases such as obesity
  • Most developing  countries  are  trapped  in  stage  1  and  2  of  the Demographic Transition Model while developed countries have progressed through stages 3 and 4
  • Population policies are either pronatalistic or antinatalistic
  • Population policies are efforts by governments to try and control the growth of their populations
  • Migrations lead to both negative and positive effects for both sending and receiving areas.

Definition of terms used in this topic 

ARVs: Antiretroviral drugs, are drugs used to stop the multiplication of HIV virus within the body of an infected person enabling those living with the virus to live longer and healthier

Birth rate: it is the number of children born alive per 1000 people per year

Demographers:  these  are  scientists  who  study  population.  The  study  of population is called demography

Emigration: it is the number of people moving from an area to another area

Epidemic: it is a widespread disease which affect many people in an area or in the world

Immigration: it is the number of people entering a given area or country from another area

Migration: is the movement of people from one area or country to another resulting in more or less permanent change of home

Mortality rate: it is the number of deaths per 1000 people per year, also referred to as crude death rate or just death rate

Optimum population: it is the population size which can be supported by available resources without causing problems

Overpopulation: it is a situation where there are more people than the available resources in an area resulting in a low standard of living for the majority

Pandemic: it is an occurrence which covers a wide geographic area and affecting a large number of people, for example, epidemics such as HIV/AIDS

Population: it is the total number of people living in a given area

Population growth: it is the increase of population due to changes in birth rate, death rate and migration

Push- factors: these are conditions which repel people or force people to leave an area for a better place

Pull- factors: these are factors which attract people making them willing to move to that area

Under population: it is the situation where there are few people than the available resources resulting in a high standard of living