Connecting the Dots between Climate Change, Household Water Insecurity, and Migration

Authors: Justin Stoler*, University of Miami, Sara Beth Keough, Saginaw Valley State University, Alexandra Brewis, Arizona State University, Joseph Kangmennang, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Amber Pearson, Michigan State University, Asher Rosinger, Pennsylvania State University, Christine Stauber, Georgia State University, Edward GJ Stevenson, Durham University
Topics: Migration, Water Resources and Hydrology, Environment
Keywords: water insecurity, WASH, migration, environmental migration, climate change
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Climate change is now considered a primary global driver of migration, with water insecurity theorized to be a key determinant. Most studies have focused on large-scale climate migration events triggered by extreme weather events such as droughts, storms, or floods. But there are few studies of how climate change shapes the everyday household-level experience of water insecurity and subsequent migration decision-making beyond the contexts of disasters and agricultural livelihoods—an invisible ‘slow drip’ of migration. This review proposes a complementary, alternative framework for linking climate change, household-level water insecurity, and environmental migration by positioning household water insecurity as a critical pathway for shaping migration decision-making in the context of socio-environmental change. We present evidence that household water insecurity is a push factor that motivates household members to migrate due to water-related disruptions to physical and mental health, livelihoods beyond agriculture, and social relationships. We close with implications for anti-poverty and development initiatives, and for water interventions to mitigate forced climate migration.

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