Seasonal drought thresholds and internal migration for adaptation: Lessons from northern Bangladesh

Mohammad Ehsanul Kabir, Peter Davey, Silvia Serrao-Neumann, Moazzem Hossain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is widely accepted that human mobility caused by environmental change will take place internally within the affected countries rather than across borders. This research examines the link between environmental vulnerability and human migration in various socioeconomic contexts. Previous studies have examined population mobility in response to vulnerability driven by sudden natural hazards like cyclone, flood and earthquake. However, little is known about the dynamics of human mobility in response to slow-onset hazards like drought. This study included comprehensive fieldwork with socioeconomically disadvantaged migrants in northern rural areas of Bangladesh who are exposed to seasonal drought. The study focused on a better understanding of how affected individuals and families make decisions to either stay or to migrate internally in response to seasonal drought and other socioeconomic vulnerabilities. By adopting a case study approach, rural-to-urban migrants and their family members in the northern highland area of the country, known as the Barind Tract, were interviewed. The results suggest that migration decisions are consolidated by a variety of stressors including both environmental and nonenvironmental components. The research found that some interventions implemented by the government and nongovernment organisations are posing long-lasting impacts on the sustainability of rural livelihood with a propensity to increase, not reduce, outward migration. These interventions have been questions and recommendations are made to address this emerging and complex livelihood problem.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPathways to a Sustainable Economy
Subtitle of host publicationBridging the Gap between Paris Climate Change Commitments and Net Zero Emissions
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-67702-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-67701-9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2017


  • Drought
  • migration
  • tipping point
  • Bangladesh


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