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Climate Change, Migration, and Adaptation in the MENA Region

Wodon, Quentin and Burger, Nicholas and Grant, Audra and Liverani, Andrea (2014): Climate Change, Migration, and Adaptation in the MENA Region.

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Climate change is a major source of concern in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and migration is often understood as one of several strategies used by households to respond to changes in climate and environmental conditions, including extreme weather events. Other coping and adaptation strategies include changing the household’s sources of livelihood, and selling assets or taking other emergency measures in cases of losses due to extreme weather events. Yet while there is a burgeoning literature on climate change and migration and other adaptation strategies worldwide, the evidence available for the MENA region remains limited, in part because of a lack of survey and other data. This chapter is based in large part on new data collected in 2011 in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen. Household surveys were implemented in two climate affected areas in each country. In addition, qualitative focus groups were also implemented in both urban and rural areas. Finally, complementary work was completed using existing data sources for Morocco and Yemen. The chapter provides a summary of some of the main findings from these various sources of data, focusing on household perceptions about climate change and extreme weather events, migration, other household coping and adaptation strategies, and government and community responses. Overall, households do perceive important change in the climate, and many have been affected by extreme weather events with resulting losses in income, crops, livestock, or fish catchment. The coping and adaptation strategies used by households to deal with shocks are diverse but limited, as are the community and government programs which could help households better cope with and adapt to climate change. In terms of migration, in the areas affected by climate change and weather shocks, the analysis suggests that climate factors may account for between one tenth and one fifth of the overall level of migration observed today, but this is likely to increase as climatic conditions continue to deteriorate. While migrants appreciate the opportunities that migration offer, their living conditions and ability to be well integrated in their areas of destination is far from being guaranteed.

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