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Migration, agrarian transition and water management in an era of globalisation and climate change


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Presented by IWMI's Fraser Sugden at the 2016 Stockholm World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden, on August 29, 2016.

Session: Migration and water management: Lessons for policy and practice

Published in: Environment
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Migration, agrarian transition and water management in an era of globalisation and climate change

  1. 1. Migration, agrarian transition and water management in an era of globalisation and climate change Dr Fraser Sugden Senior Researcher - Political Economy and Water Governance Nepal Country Representative, International Water Management Institute
  2. 2. Migration – defining issue of our times • Refugee crisis in Europe only a small part of a much greater demographic transformation. • Seasonal or temporary movement of labour dominates migration flows today and is emblematic of an increasingly multi-polar global economy. • Internal migration flows: 244 million people live outside their country of birth worldwide (UNFPA, 2016), and 740 million internal migrants.
  3. 3. • China agricultural image...
  4. 4. Engagement with the source of migration flows • Strong (and justified) focus in development research on the migrants themselves, and the outcomes on host communities • Important increasingly to better understand the social, political and economic dynamics in source communities • Causes of migration are rooted in agrarian and natural resource based economy in sending regions, and the impact of this movement on those who stay behind is significant.
  5. 5. Learning from the past Source: Wikimedia commons • Great labour migrations of Industrial revolution Europe represented a break from the land. • A new start for farming families • Migration a by-product of the proleterianisation of the peasantry and development of capitalist agriculture. • New lives in cities, wages rose, and emerging welfare systems
  6. 6. Migration today – ties to the land
  7. 7. Why is water important • Labour migration in the Majority World is intricately connected with agrarian stress – climate change; weak terms of trade; rising living costs. • Migration increasingly fills the gap • Water security however, is increasingly important for agriculture at a time of climate and economic stress – plays a role in mediating migrant flows • Role of irrigation in offering a fallback at times of drought, while increasing cropping intensity for food security.
  8. 8. Vulnerability of those who stay behind
  9. 9. Access to water for those who stay behind
  10. 10. Migration and water management institutions
  11. 11. Policy questions • Irrigation interventions themselves need to address structural constraints which are driving farmers to migrate rather than invest on the land • Investments with ‘youth’ are critical • Water management interventions need to be sensitive • ‘Harnessing’ migration • Increased recognition that it is not just a political or humanitarian issue, but a development issue – migrants can be agents of change • Recognition by donors and bilateral agencies • Flow of remittances can be harnessed for investments in agriculture and irrigation
  12. 12. Thank you…