Social Science Baha


Lecture Series CXIII | Migration during Climate Change: Broadening the Discourse beyond Disaster Displacement and Failure to Adapt

Social Science Baha

invites you to its
Lecture Series CXIII

Amina Maharjan
Migration during Climate Change
Broadening the Discourse beyond Disaster Displacement and Failure to Adapt

5:30 pm | 14 May 2024 (Tuesday) | Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur

Nepal is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, ranking 139th out of 182 in terms of exposure, sensitivity, and ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. Nepal faces several disaster risks such as floods, landslides, earthquakes, wildfires, and droughts. Marginalised populations, already burdened by poverty, food insecurity, and discrimination, and agriculture-based livelihoods are particularly susceptible to these impacts. Rural communities in Nepal are highly dependent on subsistence agriculture, with small holdings, mostly rainfed systems and livestock. The observed changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, and the increased frequency of extreme weather events, have led to significant losses in agricultural productivity, property, and human lives. Off-farm employment opportunities in informal services and manufacturing are limited.

Migration is a common and often effective risk-spreading strategy adopted by households in Nepal. The 2021 Census reported that roughly one in every four households has a family member abroad. The remittances sent home by migrant workers are used to meet household consumption, finance education and healthcare needs. There is evidence that a small portion is also invested in agriculture to build resilience to climate change. However, the general discourse continues to portray migration as both a challenge and a failure that needs to be stopped.

Against this backdrop, this lecture aims to shed light on these two interlinked mega-trends of climate change and migration. Climate adaptation interventions are generally designed for resident populations, and do not consider the mobility and immobility of exposed and marginal populations. The discourse on migration under a changing climate is also narrowly focused on disaster displacement and rarely addresses other forms of human mobility. This presents a huge gap in our understanding of climate change-migration linkages and therefore constrains the ways in which we can leverage migration to reduce livelihood precarity, increase adaptive capacities, and enhance the overall wellbeing of the population.

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Amina Maharjan is Senior Livelihood and Migration Specialist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). With a PhD in agriculture, she is an interdisciplinary researcher and practitioner specialising in human mobility and migration, sustainable development, and climate adaptation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

Dr Maharjan’s work focuses on the science-policy-practice interface related to the human dimensions of environmental change, vulnerability to cyrospheric change, air pollution, multi/translocal livelihood resilience, and gender equity and social inclusion. Among her recent publications (as lead author) related to the lecture are: ‘Can Labour Migration Help Households Adapt to Climate Change? Evidence from Four River Basins in South Asia’ (in Climate and Development), ‘Understanding Rural Outmigration and Agricultural Land Use Change in the Gandaki Basin, Nepal’ (Applied Geography), and ‘Migration and Household Adaptation in Climate-Sensitive Hotspots in South Asia’ (Curr Clim Change Rep).

The lecture will also be livestreamed at

This is a public lecture and admission is free and open to all on a first-come-first-seated basis.

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