Climate change, drought, land degradation and migration: exploring the linkages

Elsevier, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 50, June 2021
Hermans K., McLeman R.

Droughts are significant drivers of land degradation, which in turn has adverse effects on resource-dependent rural populations and can potentially lead to livelihood losses and subsequent migration out of affected areas. Linkages between land degradation and migration are complex and not particularly well documented, as they occur within a larger context of multi-scale interactions of socio-economic, political, demographic, and environmental processes. Given these uncertainties, further research in this field is needed. Here, we review existing research on how droughts affect land degradation-migration dynamics, and illustrate the pathways by which migration is affected by and responds to the climatic driver. We pay particular attention to methods used to identify, measure, and understand migration related to land degradation – including statistical approaches, application of remote sensing data and qualitative approaches – and identify common challenges encountered by researchers. We conclude by identifying future directions and priorities for research.