Risk of Environmental & Climate Migration: Evidence from Banjul Gambia

Nfamara K Dampha– Mar 14, 2019

Several studies explore the nexus between migration, climate change, and other environmental challenges. However, there is limited investigation using both qualitative and quantitative methods in establishing the above linkages based on households’ risk perception.

Using a household survey approach, we find that avoiding climate and environmentally-induced migration requires pro-activeness in reducing households’ risk and enhancing their adaptive capacity. Anchored on the New Economics Theory, households in The Gambia’s capital city, Banjul are employing migration, as an early avoidance behavior strategy to avert devastating climate change impacts (e.g. rising sea levels) threatening the island city. Accordingly, the findings of our study revealed as follow.

First, net migration rate in Banjul has declined by 113% between 1983 and 2013.

Second, 64% of current households in Banjul express positive Willingness to Migrate (WTM) any time before 2050 with an if condition.

Third, on average, current households in Banjul are 33% more likely to migrate if they perceive that climate and environmentally-induced factors are primarily responsible for the city’s high out-migration rate, ceteris paribus.

Fourth, over 30,000 Islanders in Banjul are at risk of becoming Environmental Migrants (EMs) with a mean global Sea Level Rise of 1.0m by 2100, if no aggressive adaptation is considered now.

And finally, according to the British Environmentalist, Norman Myers and a recent World Bank report (2018) there are over 60 million EMs (2 times more than UN recognized refugees) globally and that estimate is projected to range from 143 to 200 million by 2050, including 86million from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Among others, we recommend that The Gambia government and Islanders in Banjul utilize internal migration as a risk-reduction and adaptation strategy for sustainability purposes. And for long-term planning, the government needs to commence a national consultation to strategically identify and gradually mobilize resources to develop a second capital city for the benefit of current and future generations of Gambians.

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