Environmental conditions, including rainfall variability, frequency of droughts and floods, as well as land degradation, are known to influence human migration patterns in West Africa. The most recent IPCC report predicts an increase in extreme weather events in the region, leading to an increase in flooding, as well as an increase in drying and agricultural droughts. To cope with adverse climatic conditions, poverty and food security, migration has been a strategy for centuries in this region.
Within our work in the project MIGRAWARE, we aim to identify regions that favor migration decisions (areas of origin) as well as regions that attract people based on certain positive attributes (destination areas). In addition to environmental factors, we characterize these regions also by economic, demographic, social, and political factors that are relevant to migration. Thus, we define regions where migration could take place based on geospatial data.
We use historical rainfall indices based on Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station (CHIRPS) data and historical temperature indices by means of the ERA5 dataset both covering the time period from 1981 to 2020. Moreover, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from 2002 to 2020 based on the MODIS NDVI dataset is used to examine spatial and temporal changes in vegetation for providing conclusive information on food security. To quantify temporal trends, time series analyses are performed using Mann-Kendall tests.
To account for the complexity of the phenomena, environmental factors are integrated into the network of factors and processes of migration. Additionally, to investigate the interaction between the different drivers of migration, data on armed conflict and population growth are also involved in the analysis. Subsequently, on-site surveys will provide information on social networks and land tenure issues. Furthermore, the analyzed geospatial data will be validated by obtaining information on individuals' perceptions of environmental change. This multi-method approach, combining spatial data and qualitative interviews, is expected to provide valid information on current migration patterns and a better understanding of the linkages between food security, climate change and migration.
Our work is conducive to achieving the overall aim of the MIGRAWARE project (WASCAL Wrap 2.0), to compile information on rural-urban and cross-border migration in West Africa. In this context, the findings of this study will help formulate recommendations for stakeholders to better target climate change adaptation measures and develop governance tools and policy briefs that will be tailored to the local, national, and intergovernmental level. Concurrently, this study contributes to the development of strategies and solutions within the food-climate-migration nexus in the region.