31 January 2014

The UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition has published a report focusing on the experiences of people who have to move because of environmental change. The report is based on testimonies from ten regions across the world that illustrate the different ways in which movement linked to climate change happens in different parts of the globe.

According to the report, in the Horn of Africa, where 80% of the region’s population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, 13 million people were affected by a combination of drought and war in 2010. Combined with violence experienced in the region, the drought caused displacement on a massive scale.

The report found that changing weather patterns in this region interact with other factors, such as conflict and lack of government support, and create a situation of ongoing displacement. Many people who were dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods described moving within their own countries when weather patterns changed and farming was no longer possible. Having moved once, conflict over scarce resources or further environmental degradation in their new region results in further movement.

In the Horn of Africa, people interviewed described moving in response to environmental change as a last resort and several people pointed to social, political and economic factors that made adapting to changing weather patterns harder or impossible.

“And since there was the war, we did not receive any support from the government. Therefore, there are combined factors that made us suffer: droughts and war. If war did not exist, then we might have been able to stay”, stated a farmer from Somalia who has now moved to Uganda.

The reports stresses that migration for many people in areas affected by climate change is a means of survival and many are forced to continuously migrate despite all risks involved.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 31 January 2014
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