The article examines the characteristics, motivation factors and impacts of seasonal migration in Ethiopia. The study was underpinned by the Sustainable Livelihood Framework. Both urban and rural areas as places of destination and rural villages as origins of migrants have been considered.
Data were collected using a questionnaire survey, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and household case studies. Shortage of farmland, debt, lack of viable non-farm activities locally, and the desire to earn additional income are the major reasons for seasonal migration of labour. Social networks and information flows are also important factors in migration. The research found that single men are predominantly involved in migration while the participation of women is negligible. The earnings obtained have allowed rural households to supplement their income from agriculture and indirectly contributed to overcoming the problem of farmland scarcity. The timing of movement which coincides with the agricultural slack season at home makes the impacts of seasonal out-migration on agriculture minimal. Rather than viewing it as a livelihood option of the rural poor which contributes to reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of the poor, migration is still perceived negatively, and there has been little awareness of its significance.