The Impact of Natural Disasters on Migration in Bangladesh

April 2, 2012

Recent research indicates that climate change-related natural disasters will cause an increase in human migration and displacement. A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seeks to further investigate this issue in rural Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, climate change is expected to increase the prevalence of natural disasters. While previous qualitative studies relate short-term migration to specific floods, the paper does not find any relationship between flood exposure and long-term migration. The existence of disaster relief programs which specifically target floods and the longstanding history of rural households coping with these climate events likely mitigates the consequences of flooding. Interestingly, the authors do find that individuals permanently migrate in response to the occurrence of drought-related crop failure. However, these individuals tend to stay closer to home which is more economically viable in terms of moving costs and securing employment. The authors call for future policies that facilitate movement through the removal of existing economic and legal barriers to migration and improve the targeting mechanisms used to identify areas eligible for disaster relief.

Related IFPRI research on rural-urban linkagesrebuilding after emergencies and natural disasters.