Migration influenced by environmental change in Africa: A systematic review of empirical evidence

Marion Borderon, Patrick Sakdapolrak, Raya Muttarak, Endale Kebede, Raffaella Pagogna, Eva Sporer

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

BACKGROUND Despite an increase in scholarly and policy interest regarding the impacts of environmental change on migration, empirical knowledge in the field remains varied, patchy, and limited. Generalised discourse on environmental migration frequently oversimplifies the complex channels through which environmental change influences the migration process. OBJECTIVE This paper aims to systematise the existing empirical evidence on migration influenced by environmental change with a focus on Africa, the continent most vulnerable to climate change. METHODS We select 53 qualitative and quantitative studies on the influence of environmental change on migration from the comprehensive Climig database and systematically analyse the literature considering the multidimensional drivers of migration. RESULTS Environmental change influences migration in Africa in an indirect way by affecting other drivers of migration, including sociodemographic, economic, and political factors. How and in what direction environmental change influences migration depends on socioeconomic and geographical contexts, demographic characteristics, and the type and duration of migration. CONCLUSIONS The contextually contingent nature of migration-environment relationships prevents us from drawing a universal conclusion, whether environmental change will increase or suppress migration in Africa. However, this study unravels the complex interactions between the nature and duration of the environmental pressure, the livelihood of the populations, the role of kinship ties and the role of demographic differentials on migration response. CONTRIBUTION The review provides an initial systematic and comprehensive summary of empirical evidence on the environmental drivers of migration in Africa. It also discusses the implications of the scale, materials, and methods used in the 53 studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Pages (from-to)491-544
Number of pages54
JournalDemographic Research
Volume41
Early online date15 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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