Human mobility in response to rainfall variability: opportunities for migration as a successful adaptation strategy in eight case studies

Afifi, Tamer / Andrea Milan / Benjamin Etzold / Benjamin Schraven / Christina Rademacher-Schulz / Patrick Sakdapolrak / Alexander Reif / Kees van der Geest / Koko Warner
External Publications (2015)

published on Migration and Development


This article analyses the dynamics between rainfall variability, food insecurity and human mobility in eight case studies, namely Ghana, Tanzania, Guatemala, Peru, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Vietnam. It covers a large spectrum of rainfall-related climatic events, including floods, drought, seasonal shifts and dry spells, and their impact on food insecurity and in turn on human mobility in approximately 1300 households in the eight case studies. It also summarizes the outcomes of focus group discussions and participatory research approach sessions held with communities in the villages that are affected by rainfall variability. The article compares the outcomes of the case studies and identifies the similarities and areas of overlap. It concludes that for some households – regardless of the case study – there is high potential for migration to be a successful adaptation strategy. Some other households rather find it hard to adapt to the situation in situ; among them, some cannot afford moving to other areas to improve their livelihoods and remain ‘trapped’ while others do move, but barely survive or are even subject to worse conditions. The article provides policy recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners that might be applicable for these, and also other countries exposed to the same climatic issues. Finally, the article provides an outlook with lessons learned for the benefit of future research.

About the authors

Schraven, Benjamin

Political Scientist

Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Brandi, Clara

Economy and Political Science 

Dippel, Beatrice


Donnelly, Aiveen

Politcal Science 

Ekoh, Susan S.

Environmental Research 

Goedeking, Nicholas

Comparative Political Economy 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Mathis, Okka Lou

Political Scientist 

Never, Babette

Political Scientist 

Pegels, Anna


Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy

Agricultural Economist