Climate migration is an increasing phenomenon, especially in the Global South. In this paper, researchers explored rural-peri-urban climate migration in central and north central dryland Namibia. They asked: what are the patterns of climate change and internal regional migration flows, and what are the benefits and dis-benefits of climate mobilities as an adaptive strategy?

Exposure to climate-related hazards, such as flooding and drought, contributes out-migration. However, though climate change acts as a strong push factor from rural to urban and peri-urban areas, there are important pull factors at play. Migration offers the possibility of better access to affordable energy and, in urban centres, access to electricity supports climate adaptation directly through mechanised cooling, and indirectly through longer working hours and more educational opportunities.

Part of an informal settlement visible from the roadside just outside of Windhoek, Namibia

A peri-urban area near Windhoek. Photo: John McKeen / Getty Images .

The authors added that there are negative consequences of climate migration for communities of origin: high out-migration often results in a human capital deficit which can have gendered impacts. The out-migration of men can cause a redistribution of household labour and increase demands on women in the short term, through on-farm labour and the implementing of community development initiatives.

There is an urgent need for adaptation planning to better acknowledge climate migration and the embedded rural-peri-urban linkages that support livelihoods and to mitigate such risks. Successful climate migration will be based on the flows of goods and services through the rural-peri-urban-rural social network. These networks are necessary to enhancing resilience to climate challenges in the twenty-first century.