Climate anomalies, land degradation, and rural out-migration in Uganda

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May 30, 2019
Maia Call and Clark Gray



Globally, rural livelihoods are increasingly challenged by the dual threats of land degradation and climate change. These issues are of particular concern in sub-Saharan Africa, where land degradation is believed to be severe and where climate change will bring higher temperatures and shifts in rainfall. To date, however, we know little about the relative effects of these various potential environmental stressors on migration. To examine these processes, we link longitudinal data from 850 Ugandan households with environmental data on soils, forests, and climate, and then analyze these data using approaches that account for potential spatial and temporal confounders. Our findings reveal that climate anomalies, rather than land degradation, are the primary contributor to environmental migration in Uganda, with heat stress of particular importance. Short hot spells increase temporary migration, an element of a diversified household livelihood strategy, while long-term heat stress induces permanent migration through an agricultural livelihoods pathway.

Read the article in Population and Environment.

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