, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 79–92 | Cite as

Environmental refugees in sub-Saharan Africa: a review of perspectives on the trends, causes, challenges and way forward

  • Terence Epule EpuleEmail author
  • Changhui Peng
  • Laurent Lepage


This study sets out to critically verify the trends, causes, challenges and way forward of environmental refugees (ERs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This analysis is based on a critical synthesis of more than 50 peer review papers that have various perspectives on the trends, causes, challenges and way forward of ERs globally and in SSA. It has been verified that in the 1990s, the number of ERs in SSA was about 7 million and the projections for 2010 and 2050 were 14 and 200 million respectively. Population dynamics are seen as the main cause of the crisis as they affect and coordinate droughts, vegetation degradation and wars. In the area of challenges and way forward, enacting a narrower definition of ERs in particular and a definition of refugees that encompasses ERs would be critical in enhancing monitoring of movements, demographics, setting time frames and enhancing research. In a global perspective, it has also been verified that, the causes of ERs in SSA have repercussions such as reduced rainfall and stressing up social, economic, political and environmental resources in different parts of the world.


Environmental refugees Population dynamics Droughts Wars Vegetation degradation Definitional polemics Monitoring 



We are thankful to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada for providing the funding that made this study possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence Epule Epule
    • 1
    Email author
  • Changhui Peng
    • 1
  • Laurent Lepage
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Quebec in Montreal, Institute of Environmental SciencesMontrealCanada

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