Migration as an Adaptation Strategy and its Gendered Implications: A Case Study From the Upper Indus Basin (2014)

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Natural resource-dependent isolated mountain communities are highly vulnerable to climatic and environmental stresses, and migration is often the most important livelihood diversification strategy for insuring a household against shocks. In this paper, we present some key results from a study conducted in the West Karakoram region of Pakistan to assess the influence of environmental shocks on migration and the effect of remittances on the adaptive capacity of recipient households and on gender relations. Primary data were collected at community and household level through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and quantitative questionnaires covering 210 households in 6 villages of the West Karakoram. Our findings suggest that migration is adopted as a core response to environmental pressure, both as an ex ante form of household risk mitigation against decreased and uncertain agricultural production, and as an ex post coping mechanism in the wake of environmental shocks. Gender structures migration; only men participate in circular labor migration to urban areas, while women are left behind to take care of the agricultural work and the household. Despite women's increased role in farming activities, no significant changes were noted in the decision-making power of women as a result of male outmigration. Gender positive transformative processes are more likely to be intergenerational and driven by increased access to education for girls.
Year: 2014
Language: English
In: Mountain Research and Development 34: 255-265

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