Internal Migration and Social Aspects of Urbanization in Azerbaijan

One of the most common results drawn from a research by the Social Research Center - "Internal Migration and Social Aspects of Urbanization in Azerbaijan" is that the pace of internal migration in Azerbaijan has increased during the years of independence. In all types of internal migration: 1. inter-district; 2. within the regions; 3. between town and village; and 4. intensification was observed in areas such as labor migration.

 

The survey revealed that the average age of respondents who moved from their place of birth was 23 years old. The fact that the process of urbanization in Azerbaijan is moving towards large cities, especially Baku, has caused problems in the social, economic, political and environmental spheres. Road transport, utilities, educational institutions, etc. Overloading of infrastructure has led to difficulties in these areas, which are typical of megacities.

 

Internal migration and urbanization are among the main factors that directly affect the provision of social and public stability in the capital cities. The fact that a large number of migrants are not registered in the area where they actually live creates problems in solving criminal cases. In particular, migration to Baku exacerbates the criminogenic situation in the capital city. For instance, in 11 months of 2019, 37% of crimes committed in the capital fell on residents of other cities and regions of the country.

 

Excessive population density not only causes the phenomenon of social discomfort caused by traditional "urban-rural" relations, but also creates favorable conditions forces to become a tool for the politicization of objective social problems arising from population density.

 

The unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for more than thirty years and the resettlement of more than one million refugees and internally displaced people in the capital and regions are also one of the biggest obstacles to regulating the internal migration process.

 

Although the State Migration Service has been established in Azerbaijan, its functions are mainly related to the regulation of entry and exit processes. It is unknown whether there is a specific state body regulating internal migration processes, preparation of activities in this direction and evaluation mechanisms. It is unknown whether there is a systematic activity to monitor or register the mobility of internal migrants.

 

Weak socio-cultural infrastructure in the regions, specifically in rural areas, keeps a large number of children, and young people living out of quality education, which means the loss of professional staff in the country's labor market.

 

The influx of people from rural to urban areas could pose significant socio-economic threats in the near future in terms of human resources in the agricultural sector in Azerbaijan. Every year, subsidies are allocated from the state budget for the production of agricultural products, and discounts are applied. According to the results of the survey, despite the aforementioned regular implementation of the benefits by the state for the development of the agricultural sector, people's interest in the agricultural sector is growing weakly.

 

The influx of people, qualified specialists, especially young people, whose long-term work habits have been formed in the field of agriculture, creates a problem of lack of qualified personnel in the regions. Thus, there is a shortage of qualified personnel in the agricultural sector, such as veterinarians, zoo technicians, agronomists. Most importantly, products that are not sold on farms are lost, and there are problems with recycling.

 

Although the universities were built during the Soviet Union era  to distribute the population evenly throughout the country, this policy has lagged behind since independence. Most of all public and private higher education institutions opened after independence are located in Baku. In order to organize the equal distribution of young people in the country, the opening of private and public universities in other major cities besides Baku should be encouraged. However, the development of regional higher education institutions plays an important role in regulating migration flows.

 

Entrepreneurship development and promotion in the regions are poorly organized, and financial access is low. Entrepreneurs have limited access to credit, and interest rates on agricultural loans are high. Production facilities are unable to operate at full capacity due to lack of raw materials and staff.

 

People in rural areas have poor mobile access to services (banks, ATMs, education and health infrastructure, etc.).

 

There are legal and regulatory gaps in the provision of social benefits (mortgage loans) by the state. Low real estate prices in the regions, weak sales flexibility reduce the interest of financial institutions to direct mortgage loans here. As a result, young people living in the regions have limited access to housing.

 

The activity of the Regional Development Public Union (RDPU), established on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and implementing important measures in the socio-economic, social and cultural life of the regions, should also be noted. RDU carries out useful work in the implementation of social business projects in the regions, the implementation of public control, the investigation of citizens' appeals and proposals, the solution of the problems of the local population in cooperation with the relevant agencies. For example, the orchards, vegetable and melon farms covering vulnerable groups (families of martyrs, people with disabilities, members of low-income families, etc.) have been established in 41 districts under the “Social Gardens” project jointly with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. In recent months alone, intensive orchards have been planted for about 400 families as part of the Social Gardens project.

 

At the same time, there is a need for the effective use of existing youth homes, Heydar Aliyev centers and Olympic complexes to regulate the flow of capital from the regions. District and rural life is boring for young people with higher education, who are unable to find socio-cultural employment to meet their social needs.

 

Ecotourism and agro-tourism opportunities in many regions and villages of Azerbaijan are wide. In particular, although the natural landscape of the southern region is favorable for the development of many types of tourism, these opportunities are not used. In order to organize this work, it is necessary to attract small and medium entrepreneurs and create financial access for them.

 

Sociological surveys and observations conducted at the stage of this study show that respondents have hesitations and gaps in terms of identity, as well as the position of "where I live, work, belong and where I am safe" in relation to the well-being of the identity of a multicultural society in Azerbaijan. In terms of the impact of migration on identity and the identities created by it, the differences in terms of hybrid identity, which began to emerge because of dynamic processes in Azerbaijan, are mostly reflected in the "Z" generation, born after 1990 and referred to as the new generation. The notion of a "hybrid identity" is not only a new fact, but also a result of changes in the social structure due to historical changes. The reflection of historical migration processes and the emerging multicultural society in Azerbaijan also creates the basis for the emergence of different concepts of identity in the context of the dynamic processes of recent decades in society. 

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