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Abstract

Since the 1980’s there has been an increasing debate throughout the world, that argues whether environmental degradation is a major cause of migration. Scientists claimed there were millions of “environmental refugees” in the late 1980s. The discussion of the links between environmental change and migration have since then been widely debated, especially because of the lack of empirical data on the linkages of the environment and migration. Within the last years the Nobel price winning International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) raised awareness about future impacts of climate change and stated that extreme weather events will occur more frequently and the number of people affected will be highest in the low-lying deltas of Asia and Africa.

Heavy rain in south eastern Africa in early 2008 flooded the low-lying river areas along the Zambezi River in Central Mozambique and displaced up to 80,000 people -- the second such occurrence within two years. This number adds to tens of thousands of people already displaced from floods and cyclones during 2000, 2001 and 2007. Flooding in Mozambique provides a picture of the vulnerability many developing countries experience vis-à-vis extreme climate events. Resettlement has become a policy of last resort for a government trying to ensure safety in a populated area. Mozambique has in recent years become a prominent example of environmentally induced displacement/migration caused by flooding, and the efforts of a government to balance the safety of threatened people with the need to earn livelihoods on floodplains. Hence, this paper aims to understand the impacts of current extreme weather events, especially for a region of the world where the population is surviving via subsistence economy. This paper intends to decrease the lack of data on the linkages between the environment, displacement and migration and identify the major issues in dealing with these impacts.