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Migration due to Climate Change in Coastal Regions of Bangladesh - Does it really exist


The coastal region of Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters and human-induced intervention due to its geographical location along the delta of the Ganges- Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin.

Rural Bangladesh
Rural Bangladesh

This study explores and analyzes different local factors influencing environmental and socio-economic change to drive migration. The study finds that the agricultural transformation has caused ecological disaster in the area due to salinity intrusion and shrimp farming leading to significant environmental transformation and threats to local resilience with very few trees, livestock, grazing place and little or no rice cultivation remaining. Natural disaster-induced flooding and losses of household capital are also increasing. This reduction of household resilience has shifted away vulnerable people to move outside territory in the urban, sub-urban and even other villages for job (e.g. paddy harvesting, rickshaw puller, day labour etc.) ranging from one week to a maximum of six months.


The study also finds that seasonal migration is a common trend for a long time for some people even though they have adequate food and livelihood security, but they migrate to strengthen household capital and savings when regular employment in their local area is not available.

Korail Slum Dhaka
Korail Slum

It is also clear that current situation is getting worse due to prolonged water logging and salinity; making people more and more vulnerable and hence seasonal migration is increasing. However, permanent migration is negligible. People have little understanding of whether such environmental changes are linked to climate change or not but they emphasize man-made interventions and natural disasters. Although there is a serious ongoing debate about climate induced migration or climate refuges from coastal Bangladesh the study did not find any significant relation between climate change and migration.People are shifted away from their land by shrimp farming industries and lose their base for self-sustaining agriculture that existed before 1980. Climate change is a fact but in the present case of migration it only exacerbates an already existing problem. The study concludes that changes in land use in the last thirty years and disasters lead to a failure of livelihood resilience, which threatens the people’s environmental and socio-economic condition.


This influences people to migrate to increase their household resilience/capital from outside and can be considered to be an alternative coping/livelihood strategy if other local options fail. The study finally provides some recommendations to minimize the adverse impacts at the local level and incorporation of strategies to reduce the flow of migration that could be a burden on the destination’s resilience. The study suggests an integrated transformational mechanism that brings people back to the self-sustaining agriculture systems and further development of sustainable shrimp farming.


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