Protection of Children Affected by Seasonal Migration: A Study in Jalna District, Maharashtra


This study was released on November 23, 2022, by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India. It aims to comprehend the needs, vulnerabilities, and difficulties of children from families who migrate seasonally from the district of Jalna, especially for sugarcane harvesting.

The survey for the study involved qualitative interviews with children between 12-17 years and their parents. Other people interviewed included teachers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), police officials, gram sevaks and sarpanchs across 24 villages from Jalna district with high levels of outward migration.

The researchers also conducted Participatory Rural Appraisal Activities (PRA) like ’24-hour clock’, ‘mobility mapping’ and ‘trust circle’ across 13 villages. The data collection for this study was conducted online from February to August 2021 with the help of locally appointed youth facilitators.

This 266-page report is divided into nine chapters: Introduction (Chapter 1); Data and Methods (Chapter 2); Review of Literature (Chapter 3); Process of Seasonal Migration (Chapter 4); Children’s Perceptions of Daily Activities, Social Support and Mobility (Chapter 5); Effect of Seasonal Migration on Children’s Education (Chapter 6); Health and Nutrition of Children: Perceptions of Stakeholders (Chapter 7); Safety and Protection of Children (Chapter 8); and Policy Recommendations and Conclusion (Chapter 9).


  1. As per the National Statistical Survey Organization’s (NSSO) 64th round (2007-08), India had 17 million temporary or seasonal migrants. Of these, 1.5 million (9.1 per cent) comprised children aged 17 years or younger. Maharashtra recorded about 0.89 million such migrants, of which 11.3 per cent were children.

  2. Maharashtra, in particular, brings a share of seasonal migrants due to the extent of drought-prone regions compelling people to migrate out after monsoon (October-November) and return during the summer (March-April). This near half-yearly migration impacts the children that migrate along with their families as well as those that continue to live in their villages with other siblings and family members.

  3. Almost all (99 per cent) adult migrants surveyed were aged between 24 to 38 years. The survey found that half of the children aged 10-14 years stayed back in their home villages. Among those children who stayed back, 90 per cent had their grandparents as caregivers.

  4. The study observes that 50 per cent of the seasonal migration of school-age children was rural to rural. Additionally, 18.8 per cent of boys and 17.7 per cent of girls of school age had moved from urban to rural destinations.

  5. There is a gender disbalance observed in the reasons for migration among children aged 15-19 years. More than a third of the boys (36.4 per cent) had migrated for work or employment while over half (53.7 per cent) the girls had migrated for marriage. Children who had migrated for education numbered 20.2 per cent (boys) and 8.5 per cent (girls).

  6. Responses from children stated that during the season of migration, all the children who had migrated with their parents were unable to dedicate a single hour to education, while 67 per cent of those that stayed back were studying for 6-8 hours on a daily basis.

  7. While the children that stayed back could attend school, they had very little help in their studies outside of their teachers and peers. Lack of parental attention often led to inconsistent attendance in school and eventually loss of interest in education. In addition, children sometimes could not source essential study materials due to lack of financial stability deepening their inferiority complex among peers.

  8. The report also studies the impact of covid-19 on the education of migrant children and highlights the challenges of accessibility and affordability of resources to enable online education for these children. While the children that stayed back had ‘somewhat’ access to a smart phone with some time to study, irregular electricity and network made it hard for them to follow the lessons taught online. Children who had migrated had no access to smartphones at all, making them unable to access online education.

  9. Work schedules of parents and distant public health facilities resulted in many children not receiving necessary immunizations on time. Even children who stayed back sometimes did not have family members willing to take them to hospitals when needed. Additionally, the study also found that migrant children faced emotional and psychological issues due to being away from their villages in unfamiliar environments.

  10. The report makes recommendations for national, state, district, and village level policy solutions. At the national level, it recommends the creation of a separate ministry for migrant affairs that would establish interstate coordination, make dedicated provisions in the budget, and oversee welfare schemes. It also suggests the addition of seasonal migrants in the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008.

  11. At the state level, the report recommends creation of a comprehensive state policy for seasonal migrants which covers basic needs such as education, nutrition, health, and protection at work sites.

  12. The study suggests establishment of a child protection system at the village level to ensure their wellbeing. It also recommends policies for improving children's mental health and social wellbeing. The study also urges for the institutionalisation and expansion of the ‘balmitra’ initiative comprising of youth volunteers who are trained by UNICEF and partner organisations on children’s issues.

    Focus and Factoids by Ananya Acharya.

    PARI Library’s health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


Kailash Chandra Das, Archana Roy, Ram Babu Bhagat, Alpa Vora and Yamini Suvarna


International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and United Nations Children’s Fund


23 Nov, 2022