The potential impact of climate change on rural-urban migration in Malawi
AbstractClimate change is one of the most pressing concerns facing the twenty-first century. As natural environments change, their ability to support productive and sustainable natural-resource dependent livelihoods is affected. More specifically climate stresses create continuous pressures on rural households and shocks may create dangerous living conditions. As such, migration to areas that can support human survival and aspirations for a stable existence emerges as a possible consequence. In a rapidly urbanising world, a more stable existence may be found outside of the countryside and in a town. If rural dwellers choose to settle permanently in urban centres then urbanisation will occur. This study examines how the stresses and shocks associated with climate change affect rural urban migration in Malawi. More specifically, the study develops a theoretical framework that examines Malawi's migration system through a 'capabilities' and 'aspirations' lens. Using an aspirations and capabilities framework can help explain some key questions of migration system theory including how patterns of movements are determined; what situations may encourage or discourage the rate of movement between the rural area and the city, including stresses and shocks; and, how a rural individual becomes a permanent city dweller. The findings suggest that rural-urban migration aspirations may increase as rural life gets harder and, at the same time, young rural dwellers are exposed to alternative urban lifestyles. However, stresses reduce the migration capabilities that are needed to move to town. This has repercussions across the migration system, which results in fewer people who are able to leave the village. Following shocks, migration aspirations are at their lowest. This is because those who would have once migrated to town now feel an obligation to remain in the village where they are able to help their rural family overcome the shock. At the same time, regional level shocks affect the ability of urban migrants to maintain their urban livelihoods with implications for return migration. The research was approved though the University of Leeds Ethical Review Team and was conducted under the ethical guidelines agreed during the review.
Suckall, Natalie Rachel (2013) The potential impact of climate change on rural-urban migration in Malawi. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.