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What drives environmental (Non-)migration around the Himalayan Region? Evidence from rural Nepal

Prabin Bhusal, Jude Ndzifon Kimengsi and Kavi Raj Awasthi

World Development Perspectives, 2021, vol. 23, issue C

Abstract: The impact of climate change and other environmental disasters have shown a strong link with human migration throughout history. While the decision to migrate in the face of such environmental disasters is clear, questions linked to the non-migration aspirations of people in environmental disaster-prone regions account only for a negligible number of studies. This applies also to the Himalayan region, characterized by a dearth of scientific information on the militating forces of (non)migration. To contribute to address this yawning research gap, this paper poses a fundamental question: what (does not) drive environmental non-migration in Nepal? Specifically, the paper seeks to: (i) discuss the trend of (non-) migration in the context of environmental disasters in Nepal, and (ii) explore the drivers of non-migration decisions in upland, landslide prone areas of Nepal. Besides document analysis, the study relies on qualitative data drawn from five focus group discussions with local community members, complemented by ten key informant interviews to further corroborate the information. Further, eight key experts from ministerial departments and academia were interviewed to generate further information to buttress the results. It explores respondents’ knowledge of environmental hazards and what drives their decision to (not) migrate in the face of environmental disasters. Despite exposures to landslides and other linked environmental hazards, we found four key factors that are instrumental in guiding non-migration decisions. First, the intrinsic value placed by the community (linked to their ancestral attachment), including place attachment. Second, social capital (especially social groupings) which drives collective action to manage and overcome the effects of disasters, third, place confidence which guarantees their application of locally adapted survival strategies, and fourth the structural contexts (economical and agricultural values). While this study provides conceptual and empirical information on the much needed subject on environmental non-migration, it makes a succinct request for further quantitative investigations to model the non-migration process and determine clear patterns over the years.

Keywords: Non-migration; Decision; Social factors; Disasters; Rural Nepal (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2021.100350

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