UNU-EHS, CARE Profile Climate-Induced Migration

28 November 2012: The UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and CARE International have released a comparative study identifying food insecurity and rainfall variability as key drivers of human mobility. The study is based on empirical research in Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The study, which is part of “Where the Rain Falls: Climate Change, Food and Livelihood Security, and Migration” project, highlights migration as an important risk management strategy for vulnerable households, and reveals conditions that hinder or facilitate household decision-making on migration.

The study aims to show how households adjust behavior and make migration decisions in response to climatic stresses. It identifies four rainfall migration profiles for households: use migration to improve resilience; survive but not flourish; use migration as a last resort and coping strategy; or, if unable to migrate, struggle to survive.

Koko Warner, UNU, said “migration decisions were more closely linked to rainfall in places where the dependence on rain-fed agriculture was high and local livelihood diversification options were low.” According to the study, migration is often seasonal and temporary but may become permanent if migrants lack options to tackle food insecurity and rainfall variability.

The study developed an agent-based migration model to predict migration patterns in response to varying rainfall scenarios for 2014-2040. In Tanzania, for example, this model predicts migration could double over the next 25 years as a result of limited rainfall. In contrast, food insecurity is less influential in migration decisions.

The study proposes policy actions and solutions - including by the UNFCCC - to enhance household resilience to climatic shocks and facilitate migration as a strategy to enhance livelihoods and build resilience. The project will develop community-based adaptation activities for vulnerable households in India, Peru, Tanzania and Thailand.

The UNU-EHS and CARE International launched the study during a side event at the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the UNFCCC in Doha, Qatar.  Kevin Henry, CARE France, said the study findings “can help shape both policies and adaptation investments" and called for policymakers to act quickly to mitigate climate change and support community adaptation. [UNU Press Release] [Publication: Where the Rain Falls: Climate Change, Food and Livelihood Security, and Migration] [Project Website]