The role of migration and remittances in climate change adaptation is an emerging policy issue. Remittances, both financial and social, provide direct linkage between migration and climate change adaptation. Financial remittances can be a ‘local’ financing source to address some of the unmet adaptation needs of the migrant-sending households in the origin communities across the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. Social remittances can provide the skills, information, and knowledge required to build adaptive capacity to environmental stresses or shocks (for example: drought, riverine floods, flash floods, etc.). However, this will require a supportive policy framework and institutional arrangement that would facilitate access to information and technical guidance at various levels (national, provincial, and local). At the moment, there is limited understanding of the relationship between migration and adaptation planning in the HKH region.
Photo: ICIMOD/Alex Treadway
As much as the livelihoods of mountain people are largely dependent on natural resource, many mountain households adopt a multi-income livelihood system which combines agricultural (farming and animal husbandry) and non-agricultural income sources (wage employment, trade, or remittances). Migration for work is a traditional livelihood strategy in the mountain communities across the HKH region.
However, the public and policy discourses in the HKH region ignore the benefits of migration: employment, purchasing power, food security, asset creation, livelihoods diversification (e.g. income, sector, and geographic), disaster risk reduction, changes in attitude, knowledge, or skills. At the same time, there is a lack of empirical evidence on the mechanisms to support migration-related actions and activities - such as the delivery of social and financial remittances – that can build adaptive capacity of the migrant-sending households and resilience of the origin communities to environmental stresses and shocks. There is a need to better understand the impacts of migration on the adaptation needs of the women members of the migrant-sending households.
Adaptation planning and practices in the HKH region must explore the circumstances under which human mobility can avoid the erosion of adaptive capacities (social, financial, human, physical, and natural) that are detrimental to climate change adaptation or enhance adaptive capacities that is required to effectively respond to risks arising as a result of the effects of environmental change, including climate shocks and stresses. To address these issues, ICIMOD’s Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP)