Non-migration of people at risk: environmental hazards, challenges and opportunities

Authors: Bishawjit Mallick*, Technishce Universit├Ąt Dresden, Kimberly G. Rogers, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, Zakia Sultana, Technische Universit├Ąt Dresden
Topics: Migration, Human-Environment Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Non-migration factors, livelihood challenges, environmental non-migration, vulnerable regions, mixed-method
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Cabinet Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Non-migration is a livelihood strategy that has received little attention in migration and adaptation studies. Here, we explore the leveraging factors of non-migration decisions of communities at risk in coastal Bangladesh, where exposure to natural disasters is high. We use multi-stage sampling to select around 200 households with different livelihood challenges related to hazards and socio-political changes. We consider the major land use changes in the community, including conversion from shrimp-to-rice farming while selecting the study sites. Our results show that 65 percent of respondents were unwilling to migrate either temporarily or permanently from their community, despite economic conditions being worse compared to nearby communities or cities. The reasons behind their unwillingness to relocate include personal valuation of inherited property, perceived lack of social security and job facilities in other locations, and social connectedness in place of origin. Moreover, trust in local governance, prior experience with hazardous events, and community initiatives in problem solving play vital roles in their decision to not migrate, although they face challenges such as failing infrastructure, lack of employment and health care facilities, and regular extreme events. We find that strong community cohesion motivates people to remain in place, as do perceptions that opportunities to improve their livelihood conditions will arise from strong social ties. Our findings contribute to policy planning in vulnerable regions of the world where exposure to natural hazards is increasing with climate change, and relocation is considered an adaptive strategy.

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