University of Sussex
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Moving from the margins: migration decisions amidst climate-and environment-related hazards in Bangladesh

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posted on 2023-06-09, 03:38 authored by Maxmillan Martin
Bangladesh is a country at the heart of debates about climate change and migration. This thesis probes to what extent climate- and environment-related hazards influence decisions of villagers in Bangladesh to stay or move out of their place. It considers their experiences of hazards such as cyclones, droughts and floods as proxies of what might happen in the future as a result of changing climate; and probes how they respond when their livelihoods are affected by these stresses and shocks. The qualitative analysis in this thesis shows that villagers from three hazard-prone districts of Bangladesh –Nawabganj, Munshiganj and Satkhira – often migrate for better livelihoods. However, they usually do not associate their movement to the hazards. At the same time, the quantitative analysis shows that experiences of drought and cyclone positively influence migration outside the district. Though riverbank erosion and flood negatively influence longdistance migration, people affected by erosion tend to move locally. Logit models suggest that though migration is largely driven by poverty and income needs, the poorest, especially those without any assets, are often unable to migrate outside the district. Meanwhile social networks and education contribute to migration. Whether people state it or not, migration can be a strategy that helps them offset losses and prepare better for future stresses and shocks. However, whether such migration leads to adaptation to climate change depends on the policy environment in the country. A textual analysis of policy documents, however, shows that though urban migration is inevitable for Bangladesh’s economic growth, its role as a climate change adaptation strategy is often not acknowledged. The thesis argues that policies need to be more proactive so that migration does not become maladaptive or people unable to move out are trapped in places exposed to climate- and environment-related hazards.


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  • eng


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