28 Nov Migration and environment in Ghana: A cross-district analysis of human mobility and vegetation dynamics
Van der Geest, K.
Migration and environment in Ghana: A cross-district analysis of human mobility and vegetation dynamics
Environment & Urbanization
Vol (No), pp
Migration—environment linkages are at the centre of media attention because of public concern about climate change and a perceived “flooding” of migrants from less developed countries into more affluent parts of the world. In the past few years, a substantial body of conceptual literature about environmentally induced migration has evolved, but there is still a paucity of empirical work in this area. Moreover, the environmental causes of migration have been studied largely in isolation of the environmental consequences. In this paper we present an analysis of migration and vegetation dynamics for one country (Ghana) to assess four migration—environment linkages. On the one hand, we look at two environmental drivers of migration: environmental push and pull. On the other hand, we look at the environmental impact of migration on source and destination areas. Census data at the district level (N=110) are used to map domestic migration flows in Ghana, which are then related to vegetation dynamics retrieved from a remotely sensed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset (1981— 2006). The analysis shows that at the national level, there are significant but weak correlations between migration and vegetation cover and trends therein. Districts with a migration deficit (more out-migration than in-migration) tend to be more sparsely vegetated and have experienced a more positive NDVI trend over the past quarter century than districts with a migration surplus. A disaggregation of data in three principle migration systems shows stronger correlations. Namely that north—south migration and cocoa frontier settlement have important environmental dimensions, but environmental factors do not seem to play a major role in migration to the capital, Accra. An important insight from this paper is that migration flows in Ghana can be explained partly by vegetation dynamics but are also strongly related to rural population densities. This is because access to natural resources is often more important than the scarcity or abundance of natural resources per se. This study further shows that satellite remote sensing can provide valuable input to analyses of migration—environment linkages.
Van der Geest, K., Vrieling, A., & Dietz, T. (2010). Migration and environment in Ghana: A cross-district analysis of human mobility and vegetation dynamics. Environment & Urbanization, 22(1), 107-123. URL : http://eau.sagepub.com/content/22/1/107.short