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Weather-related Influences on Rural-to-urban Migration: A Spectrum of Attribution in Beira, Mozambique

Authors: Kelly Anderson*, University of Maryland, College Park, Julie A. Silva, University of Maryland, College Park
Topics: Migration, Human-Environment Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Migration, environmental change, climate change, agriculture, Africa
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This article investigates the pathways linking environmental and economic drivers of rural-to-urban migration in Mozambique. Using examples from two rural-to-urban migrant communities located in the coastal city of Beira, we build on a generalizable migration framework (Black et al. 2011) in order to explore how perception and lived experience influence migration decision-making in contexts of environmental stress. We combine content analysis and descriptive statistics of semi-structured interview and household survey data. Using a decision-tree diagram to trace pathways linking experiences of adverse weather to migration, we evaluate the relative strength with which respondents attribute migration to weather-related factors. Qualitative findings reveal that (1) the weather’s influence on migration falls on a spectrum of attribution, (2) while few migrants directly link their migration to weather-related factors, the overwhelming majority link weather to worsening economic conditions in origin areas, and (3) migrants reject the label of climate migrant, and maintain that migrating from rural areas is primarily an economic decision. Results indicate that people would stay in rural areas, regardless of extreme weather, if resilient economic livelihoods existed.

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