Duration: 01.09.2010 - 31.08.2013
Social-ecological conditions of population movements in the Sahel (MICLE)
To date there are few solid empirical findings on the relationships between climate change, environmental changes and migration. One reason for migration is the deterioration of livelihoods which are dependent on functioning supply systems and on intact ecosystems. Particularly in Africa the conditions are worsened as a result of a high population growth, economic inequality and a lack of financial and institutional capacities, which render it difficult to adapt to climate change. The decision to migrate by those affected is consequently not only shaped by ecological factors, but also by economic, social and political factors. To meet the challenges posed by climate change, politics and society must develop new and appropriate strategies for action. To this end it is necessary to link the existing scientific knowledge on the expected climate-induced environmental changes with new social-scientific findings on the causes and patterns of migration.
The joint project "micle" investigates under which social-ecological conditions population movements take place, using the example of the neighbouring Sahelian countries Mali and Senegal. The study will focus on regions that are seriously affected by the issue of land degradation, which has particularly strong impacts on agriculture, the livelihoods and food security of the population.
Firstly, a better understanding of the complex interrelationships between climate-related environmental changes and population movements shall be developed. To this end, social-empirical research will be carried out in selected regions of origin and destination areas of migrants in the two countries. The main focus is on how those people affected perceive and evaluate environmental changes against their respective social, cultural and biographic backgrounds. Findings should be obtained on which population groups migrate (or do not migrate), when and for what reasons, and which direct or indirect influence environmental changes have on migration decisions. Therefore, different qualitative and quantitative research methods will be applied such as surveys, semi-structured interviews, participatory observation and group discussions.
These studies are supplemented by the analysis of demographic data on migration in Senegal and Mali, particularly with regard to age, gender and level of education. In this way the social vulnerability of the population can be recorded more adequately.
One innovative approach of the project is that the social-scientific findings of the individual perceptions of environmental changes and migration patterns are systematically linked with natural-scientific findings of climate change and land degradation in the selected regions. The focus is on the analysis of climate-related environmental changes in the respective study sites in Senegal and Mali. To this end, existing remote sensing data will be evaluated and supplemented by data collection on vegetation, precipitation and temperature in terms of field research.
Finally, by the gradual establishment of a model on the significant related effects and their inherent uncertainties, a transferrable method should be developed with which natural-scientific and social-scientific data findings can be integrated. The model will also provide a basis for scenarios about potential future developments.
The practical goal is to build a bridge between scientific knowledge and social action. The research aims to inform policies and societal practice. Based on expert interviews with academics, political decision-makers and NGOs, recommendations for action for politicians and other relevant stakeholders should help to develop locally adapted policies in order to prevent involuntary migration or to promote migration as an appropriate adaptation strategy. The main project results will be made accessible to a wide expert community. As a result of the project, key stimuli for dialogue should be given on the relationship between climate-induced environmental changes and migration.
PD Dr. Diana Hummel
Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)
Hamburger Allee 45
60486 Frankfurt am Main, Germny
Fon +49 - (0)69 - 707 69 19 33
Fax +49 - (0)69 - 707 69 19 11
Project: Homepage http://www.micle-project.net/
University of Bayreuth, Centre for Natural Risks and Development, Chair of Population and Social Geography (Dr. Martin Doevenspeck)
University of Vienna, Institute for Geography and Regional Research (Prof. Cyrus Samimi)