From the Sahel to the coastal zone, West Africa is experiencing a variety of environmental changes resulting from both slow processes and sudden shocks. These changes significantly influence migration patterns of populations within and outside of West Africa. In this region, where natural resources are the basis of livelihoods and food security, the relationship between environmental change and socio-economic vulnerability is of particular concern. Environmental degradation impacts the vulnerability of populations and their resiliency in complex ways. The presence of environmental and climatic stresses varies geographically. While desertification and drought are of primary importance for some areas, flooding, coastal erosion, and rising sea levels are the main dangers for others. Within the same population affected by the same climate threats, vulnerability and the likelihood of migration are influenced by socio-economic status, dependence on natural resources, and demographic characteristics. Given the differentiated vulnerabilities and resilience capacities, policies need to be adapted and implemented according to the particular needs of the populations. Policy-makers must also take account of vulnerability as perceived by the people concerned. Therefore, environmental mobility cannot be considered as strictly rational behavior based on real vulnerability. Local populations need to be informed of current and future environmental changes in order to accompany their mobility decisions. Migration can also be an important tool for resilience to socio-environmental change. Creating hosting infrastructure and putting in place mechanisms to protect migrants and displaced persons is a necessary step to mitigate future risks. Regional authorities need to work together to strengthen the resilience of communities of origin to climate shocks, but they must also facilitate migration as an adaptation strategy.
|Translated title of the contribution||Climate change, natural disasters and population displacements in West Africa|
|Number of pages||21|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2017|