2021
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Can labour migration help households adapt to climate change? Evidence from four river basins in South Asia

  • Amina Maharjan; Sabarnee Tuladhar; Abid Hussain; Arabinda Mishra; Suruchi Bhadwal; Sultan Ishaq; Basharat Ahmed Saeed; Ishani Sachdeva; Bashir Ahmad; Jannatul Ferdous; S. M. Tanvir
  • Summary

The study focuses on four river basins, Gandaki, Indus, Upper Ganga and Teesta, in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region in South Asia. The region is considered one of the more environmentally vulnerable areas in the world due to recurrent natural hazards that can be exacerbated by future climate change. The dependence of the population on natural resources based livelihoods makes the region particularly vulnerable to adverse climate change impacts. Labour migration can help household adaptation, particularly when it incurs significant cash investment. The paper analyses the determinants of household adaptation, including migration, in three sectors, namely, agriculture, livestock, and water. It shows that household adaptation to the negative effects of climate change was very poor in the region, with less than a third of the households undertaking adaptation measures. While labour migration showed a positive influence on household adaptation, it was statistically significant only in agriculture. Nevertheless, migration influenced household adaptation indirectly through livelihood diversification, access to services provide of external stakeholders, and changes in household composition. The study identified location, access to climate information, and services provided by external stakeholders as important factors in household adaptation to climate change.