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Nomads, refugees and repatriates: histories of mobility and health outcomes in Northern Mali

Randall, SC; (2010) Nomads, refugees and repatriates: histories of mobility and health outcomes in Northern Mali. Society, Biology and Human Affairs , 75 (2) 1 - 26.

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Abstract

This paper reviews the different pathways through which mobility can influence health, positively or negatively depending on context, by changing susceptibility, exposure or quality of care. The impact of different forms of mobility on health outcomes is considered empirically through a case study of Kel Tamasheq, a Malian pastoralist population who have experienced diverse forms of mobility and immobility in recent decades. As nomadic pastoralists they were highly mobile before being forced, by conflict, into sedentary refugee camps in the 1990s. After repatriation some Tamasheq remain nomadic, some have sedentarised and some are semi-sedentary. Over the same period many Tamasheq women have transformed from being obese and highly immobile to much greater individual mobility. We reflect on the implications of different mobilities for child mortality (as an indicator of health). Survival analysis of birth histories demonstrates that in any single time period the most mobile groups had lowest child mortality, and that substantial within-population mortality differentials exist, unrelated to population mobility. Over two decades child mortality declined considerably and more quickly than amongst sedentary Malian populations probably as a consequence of improved access to immunization and health care in the refugee camps and decreased obesity and increased individual level mobility of young women. Understanding mobility and its diverse impacts and influences on a population may contribute to general understanding of factors contributing to health and welfare of children, but this research provides no evidence that spatial mobility per se can be considered a determinant of health or ill health.

Type:Article
Title:Nomads, refugees and repatriates: histories of mobility and health outcomes in Northern Mali
Publisher version:http://www.biosocsoc.org/sbha/sbha_journal/SBHA-2010-75_2.pdf
Language:English
Keywords:pastoralist, mobility, health, mortality, Mali, nomad
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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