14 Dec Environmental Change and Human Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa
Environmental Change and Human Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa
People on the Move in a Changing Climate. The Regional Impact of Environmental Change on Migration
Writing on environmental change and migration has, for a long time, decried the dearth of empirical work on the subject. Contrary to such claims however sub-Saharan Africa is a region in which there is both significant historical evidence of mobility serving as a means to address environmental stress and is also home to a number of studies looking at the linkages between environmental stress and human mobility. While such studies and accounts have tended to focus on the impact of slow onset stresses, such as drought and desertification, the sub-continent also experiences significant exposure to rapid onset stresses, such as flooding and storm surge. This chapter offers a review of over 30 studies which document historical mobility responses to environmental stress in sub-Saharan Africa and synthesise attempts at modelling the environment-migration nexus. This review is contextualised in an overview of the impacts predicted likely to accompany climate change in the different regions of the continent, as well as an account of the main, current internal and international migration flows in the region. The conclusions of the review are that mobility forms an important response to environmental change and stress, but it is also an established strategy and only one of a potential host of livelihood options. Importantly, the existing studies also highlight how migration is more than the outcome of poverty or intolerable vulnerability, instead appearing to manifest as a highly strategic response to which significant barriers operate. As such, mobility appears to be a highly context-specific response, which is shaped by a host of institutions operating at a variety of scales. The review thus suggests that much of what is revealed by work on the environment-migration nexus is consonant with findings on migration trends more broadly in the region.
Morrissey, J. (2014). Environmental Change and Human Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. People on the Move in a Changing Climate. The Regional Impact of Environmental Change on Migration. E. Piguet and F. Laczko, Springer Netherlands: 81-109.