Climate-driven migration: an exploratory case study of Maasai health perceptions and help-seeking behaviors
By 2050, over 250 million people will be displaced from their homes by climate change. This exploratory case study examines how climate-driven migration impacts the health perceptions and help-seeking behaviors of Maasai in Tanzania. Increasing frequency and intensity of drought is killing livestock, forcing Maasai to migrate from their rural homelands to urban centers in search of ways to support their families. Little existing research investigates how this migration changes the way migrants think about health and make healthcare decisions.
This study used semi-structured qualitative interviews to explore migrant and non-migrant beliefs surrounding health and healthcare. Migrant and non-migrant participants were matched on demographic characteristics and location.
Migrants emphasized the importance of mental health in their overall health perceptions, whereas non-migrants emphasized physical health. Although non-migrants perceived more barriers to accessing healthcare, migrant and non-migrant help-seeking behaviors were similar in that they only sought help for physical health problems, and utilized hospitals as a last option.
These findings have implications for improving Maasai healthcare utilization, and for future research targeting other climate-driven migrant populations in the world.
KeywordsClimate change Mental health Rural-to-urban migration Tanzania Healthcare Maasai
Compliance with ethical standards
The Stanford Institutional Review Board gave human subjects approval for this research in April, 2013 and informed oral consent was obtained from every participant.
- Bailis DS, Segall A, Chipperfield JG (2003) Two views of self-rated general health status. Soc Sci 56:203–217Google Scholar
- Bernard H, Ryan G (1998) Text analysis: qualitative and quantitative methods. In: Handbook of methods in cultural anthropology. Rowman & Littlefield, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Christakis N, Ware N, Kleinman A (1994) Illness behavior and the health transition in the developing world. In: Chan LC, Kleinman A, Ware N (eds) Health and social change in international perspective. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 275–302Google Scholar
- Confalonieri U, Menne B, Akhtar R et al (2007) Human health. In: Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge. Cambridge, UK, pp 391–431Google Scholar
- Jeacocke P (2010) Environmental refugees: a new concept for the current day?Google Scholar
- Leventhal H, Brissete I, Leventhal E (2003) The common sense model of self-regulation of health and illness. The self-regulation of health and illness behavior. Taylor & Francis Group, New York, pp 42–66Google Scholar
- McKay L, Macintyre S, Ellaway A (2003) Migration and health: a review of the international literature. Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, GlasgowGoogle Scholar
- Miles M, Huberman A, Saldaña J (2013) Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebookGoogle Scholar
- National Bureau of Statistics (2012) Statistics for development. In: 2012 Census Publ. http://www.nbs.go.tz. Accessed 19 Mar 2015
- Riley E, Olengurumwa O, Olesangale T (2012) Urban pastoralists; a report on the demographics, standards of living, and employment conditions of migrant Maasai living in Dar es SalaamGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization (2012) Health and climateGoogle Scholar