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Water stress and human migration : a global, georeferenced review of empirical research

Auteur : Wrathall David J. Van Den Hoek Jamon, Walters Alex ...[et al.]
Année de Publication : 2018
Type : Rapport
Thème : Démographie

Résumé/Sommaire :

This report assesses and maps 184 peer-reviewed, empirical research articles selected for their focus on linkages between water stress and human migration. First and most importantly, this literature asserts that migration is universal. Migration is an extremely common social process and is normal in almost every society on earth. Safe, orderly and regular migration can and do benefit both home and host communities. Environment- influenced migration is rarely, if ever, a resource threat to the regions to which people move.
Migration that is involuntary, unsafe and poorly managed can have negative impacts through increased vulnerabilities, greater pressures on natural resources, including water resources, and lead to tensions between migrants and host communities. The literature does, observe that negative social outcomes can result from narratives that stigmatize migrants and/or cast migrants as a security threat – especially when these narratives are used to justify increased surveillance and monitoring of these people.
A number of the reviewed articles argue for the adoption of proactive policies and programmes that seek to reduce migration. Typically, these articles identify a case for investment in sustainable agriculture and rural livelihood diversification. In waterstressed areas, experience suggests that such policies and programmes can both slow rural-urban migration and reduce the incentive for people to attempt to move across international borders out of desperation rather than out of choice.
The literature reveals a strong consensus that increased water stress can cause people to decide to migrate. There also appears to be a consensus that increasing mean temperatures are correlated with, and are thought to be a cause of, increased water stress. As temperatures rise, water stress may result from less water, increases in evaporation, and increases in agricultural water demand. But the link between temperature and water stress is not unique to drought. Recent papers demonstrate that a combination of higher temperatures and rainfall extremes are correlated with increases in migration rates away from areas where these changes can be observed. This being said, the causal interaction of temperature, water stress and migration is still not clearly understood. More systematic studies are needed.
In an effort to determine where further empirical research may be justified, we initially ap the distribution of reviewed articles at the sub-basin level and then compare these data with expected future changes in surface temperature and precipitation. Examination of these maps suggests that linkages between water stress and migration are understudied in India, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Central Sahel. As data transparency is low and/or insecurity makes field data collection difficult in some of these areas, the use of novel data-gathering techniques, such as crowd-sourcing, passive data collection from digital devices and remotely sensed data, is suggested as a way to speed progress.

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