Population and Environment

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 164–184 | Cite as

Climate, migration, and the local food security context: introducing Terra Populus

  • Raphael J. NawrotzkiEmail author
  • Allison M. Schlak
  • Tracy A. Kugler


Studies investigating the connection between environmental factors and migration are difficult to execute because they require the integration of microdata and spatial information. In this article, we introduce the novel, publically available data extraction system Terra Populus (TerraPop), which was designed to facilitate population–environment studies. We showcase the use of TerraPop by exploring variations in the climate–migration association in Burkina Faso and Senegal based on differences in the local food security context. Food security was approximated using anthropometric indicators of child stunting and wasting derived from Demographic and Health Surveys and linked to the TerraPop extract of climate and migration information. We find that an increase in heat waves was associated with a decrease in international migration from Burkina Faso, while excessive precipitation increased international moves from Senegal. Significant interactions reveal that the adverse effects of heat waves and droughts are strongly amplified in highly food insecure Senegalese departments.


Climate Environment International migration Burkina Faso Senegal Food security Terra Populus Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 



The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Minnesota Population Center (#R24 HD041023), funded through grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In addition, this work received support from the National Science Foundation funded Terra Populus project (NSF Award ACI-0940818). The authors wish to acknowledge the statistical offices that provided the underlying data making this research possible: National Institute of Statistics and Demography, Burkina Faso, and National Agency of Statistics and Demography, Senegal. We express our gratitude to Joshua Donato and David Haynes for help with the construction of the spatial variables. Special thanks to the journal editor and two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript.


  1. Abu, M., Codjoe, S. N. A., & Sward, J. (2014). Climate change and internal migration intentions in the forest-savannah transition zone of Ghana. Population and Environment, 35(4), 341–364. doi: 10.1007/s11111-013-0191-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arguez, A., & Vose, R. S. (2011). The definition of the standard WMO climate normal the key to deriving alternative climate normals. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 92(6), 699–704. doi: 10.1175/2010bams2955.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthur, J. (1991). International labor migration patterns in west africa. African Studies Review, 34(3), 65–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baig-Ansari, N., Rahbar, M. H., Bhutta, Z. A., & Badruddin, S. H. (2006). Child’s gender and household food insecurity are associated with stunting among young Pakistani children residing in urban squatter settlements. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 27(2), 114–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barbier, B., Yacouba, H., Karambiri, H., Zorome, M., & Some, B. (2009). Human vulnerability to climate variability in the Sahel: farmers’ adaptation strategies in Northern Burkina Faso. Environmental Management, 43(5), 790–803. doi: 10.1007/s00267-008-9237-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baro, M., & Deubel, T. F. (2006). Persistent hunger: Perspectives on vulnerability, famine, and food security in Sub-Saharan African. Annual Review of Anthropology, 35, 521–538. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bates, D. M. (2010). lme4: Mixed-effects modeling with R. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  8. Bates, D. M., Maechler, M., Bolker, B. M., & Walker, S. (2014). lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. Vienna, Austria: Scholar
  9. Black, R., Adger, W. N., Arnell, N. W., Dercon, S., Geddes, A., & Thomas, D. S. (2011a). The effect of environmental change on human migration. Global Environmental Change-Human and Policy Dimensions, 21, S3–S11. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.10.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Black, R. E., Allen, L. H., Bhutta, Z. A., Caulfield, L. E., de Onis, M., Ezzati, M., & Rivera, J. (2008). Maternal and child undernutrition: Global and regional exposures and health consequences. Lancet, 371(9608), 243–260. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(07)61690-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Black, R., Bennett, S. R. G., Thomas, S. M., & Beddington, J. R. (2011b). Migration as adaptation. Nature, 478(7370), 447–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Booysen, F. (2006). Out-migration in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: Evidence from the Free State Province. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(4), 603–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boyd, R., & Ibarraran, M. E. (2009). Extreme climate events and adaptation: An exploratory analysis of drought in Mexico. Environment and Development Economics, 14, 371–395. doi: 10.1017/s1355770x08004956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, S. K., & Bean, F. D. (2006). International Migration. In D. Posten & M. Micklin (Eds.), Handbook of population (pp. 347–382). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Brown, M. E., Grace, K., Shively, G., Johnson, K. B., & Carroll, M. (2014). Using satellite remote sensing and household survey data to assess human health and nutrition response to environmental change. Population and Environment, 36(1), 48–72. doi: 10.1007/s11111-013-0201-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Burgert, C., Colston, J., Roy, T., & Zachary, B. (2013). Geographic displacement procedure and georeferenced data release policy for the Demographic and Health Surveys. Calverton, MD: ICF International.Google Scholar
  17. Burney, J., Naylor, R., & Postel, S. (2013). The case for distributed irrigation as a development priority in sub-Saharan Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(31), 12513–12517. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203597110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. CIA. (2014). The world factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.Google Scholar
  19. Cooper, P. J. M., Dimes, J., Rao, K. P. C., Shapiro, B., Shiferaw, B., & Twomlow, S. (2008). Coping better with current climatic variability in the rain-fed farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa: An essential first step in adapting to future climate change? Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 126(1–2), 24–35. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2008.01.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davis, B., Winters, P., Carletto, G., Covarrubias, K., Quinones, E., Zezza, A., & DiGiuseppe, S. (2007). Rural income generating activities: A cross country comparison. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  21. DHS. (2004). Enquete Demographique et de Sante Burkina Faso 2003 [Dataset: FR154]. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Institut National de la Statistique et de la Demographie Ministere de l’Economie ed du Developpement.Google Scholar
  22. DHS. (2006). Enquete Demographique et de Sante Senegal 2005 [Dataset: FR177]. Dakar, Senegal: Ministere de la Sante et de la Prevention Medicale Centre de Recherche pour le Development Humain.Google Scholar
  23. DHS. (2008). Demographic and Health Survey: Description of the demographic and health surveys individual recode data file [DHS IV]. Rockville, MD: ICF International.Google Scholar
  24. Diffenbaugh, N. S., Swain, D. L., & Touma, D. (2015). Anthropogenic warming has increased drought risk in California. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(13), 3931–3936. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422385112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ezra, M., & Kiros, G.-E. (2001). Rural out-migration in the drought prone areas of Ethiopia: A multilevel analysis. International Migration Review, 35(3), 749–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Feng, S., & Oppenheimer, M. (2012). Applying statistical models to the climate–migration relationship. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109(43), E2915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Funk, C., Rowland, J., Adoum, A., Eilerts, G., Verdin, J., & White, L. (2012). A climate trend analysis of Senegal. Reston, VA: US Geological Survey.Google Scholar
  28. Fussell, E., & Massey, D. S. (2004). The limits to cumulative causation: International migration from Mexican urban areas. Demography, 41(1), 151–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gray, C. L., & Bilsborrow, R. (2013). Environmental influences on human migration in rural Ecuador. Demography, 50, 1217–1241. doi: 10.1007/s13524-012-0192-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gray, C. L., & Mueller, V. (2012a). Drought and population mobility in Rural Ethiopia. World Development, 40(1), 134–145. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.05.023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gray, C. L., & Mueller, V. (2012b). Natural disasters and population mobility in Bangladesh. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(16), 6000–6005. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1115944109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gray, C. L., & Wise, E. (2016). Country-specific effects of climate variability on human migration. Climatic Change, 135(3), 555–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grouzis, M., Diedhiou, I., & Rocheteau, A. (1998). Legumes diversity and root symbioses on an aridity gradient in Senegal. African Journal of Ecology, 36(2), 129–139.Google Scholar
  34. Gutmann, M. P., & Field, V. (2010). Katrina in historical context: Environment and migration in the US. Population and Environment, 31(1–3), 3–19. doi: 10.1007/s11111-009-0088-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Haile, M. (2005). Weather patterns, food security and humanitarian response in sub-Saharan Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 360(1463), 2169–2182. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2005.1746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hampshire, K., & Randall, S. (1999). Seasonal labour migration strategies in the Sahel: Coping with poverty or optimising security? International Journal of Population Geography, 5(5), 367–385. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1220(199909/10)5:5<367:aid-ijpg154>;2-o.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Harris, I., Jones, P. D., Osborn, T. J., & Lister, D. H. (2014). Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observations—The CRU TS3.10 dataset. International Journal of Climatology, 34(3), 623–642. doi: 10.1002/joc.3711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Henry, S., Boyle, P., & Lambin, E. F. (2003). Modelling inter-provincial migration in Burkina Faso, West Africa: The role of socio-demographic and environmental factors. Applied Geography, 23(2–3), 115–136. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2002.08.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Henry, S., Schoumaker, B., & Beauchemin, C. (2004). The impact of rainfall on the first out-migration: A multi-level event-history analysis in Burkina Faso. Population and Environment, 25(5), 423–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hunter, L. M., Luna, J. K., & Norton, R. M. (2015). Environmental dimensions of migration. Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 377–397. doi: 10.1146/annurev-soc-073014-112223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hunter, L. M., Nawrotzki, R. J., Leyk, S., Maclaurin, G. J., Twine, W., Collinson, M., & Erasmus, B. (2014). Rural outmigration, natural capital, and livelihoods in South Africa. Population, Space, and Place, 20, 402–420. doi: 10.1002/psp.1776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hunter, L. M., & O’Neill, B. C. (2014). Enhancing engagement between the population, environment, and climate research communities: The shared socio-economic pathway process. Population and Environment, 35(3), 231–242. doi: 10.1007/s11111-014-0202-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kugler, T. A., Van Riper, D. C., Manson, S. M., Haynes, D. A., Donato, J., & Stinebaugh, K. (2015). Terra Populus: Workflows for integrating and harmonizing geospatial population and environmental data. Journal of Map and Geography Libraries, 11(2), 180–206. doi: 10.1080/15420353.2015.1036484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lobell, D. B., Hammer, G. L., McLean, G., Messina, C., Roberts, M. J., & Schlenker, W. (2013). The critical role of extreme heat for maize production in the United States. Nature Climate Change, 3(5), 497–501. doi: 10.1038/nclimate1832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1993). Theories of international migration—A review and appraisal. Population and Development Review, 19(3), 431–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mberu, B. U. (2006). Internal migration and household living conditions in Ethiopia. Demographic Research, 14(509–539), 2006. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.14.21.Google Scholar
  47. McGregor, J. (1994). Climate-change and involuntary migration: Implications for food security. Food Policy, 19(2), 120–132. doi: 10.1016/0306-9192(94)90065-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McLeman, R. A. (2006). Migration out of 1930s—Rural Eastern Oklahoma insights for climate change research. Great Plains Quarterly, 26(1), 27–40.Google Scholar
  49. McMichael, C. (2014). Climate change and migration: Food insecurity as a driver and outcome of climate change-related migration. In A. Malik, R. Ahtar, & E. Grohmann (Eds.), Environmental deterioration and human health (pp. 291–313). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Monfreda, C., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J. (2008). Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 22(1), 1–19. doi: 10.1029/2007GB002947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. MPC. (2013). Terra Populus: Beta version [machine-readable database]. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  52. MPC. (2015). Integrated public use microdata series, international: Version 6.3 [machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  53. Munson, M. A. (2011). A study on the importance of and time spent on different modeling steps. SIGKDD Explorations, 13(2), 65–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Myers, N. (2002). Environmental refugees: A growing phenomenon of the 21st century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 357(1420), 609–613. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2001.0953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nawrotzki, R. J. (2012). The politics of environmental concern: A cross-national analysis. Organization & Environment, 25(3), 286–307. doi: 10.1177/1086026612456535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nawrotzki, R. J., & Bakhtsiyarava, M. (2016). International climate migration: Evidence for the climate inhibitor mechanism and the agricultural pathway. Population, Space & Place,. doi: 10.1002/psp.2033.Google Scholar
  57. Nawrotzki, R. J., Hunter, L. M., Runfola, D. M., & Riosmena, F. (2015a). Climate change as migration driver from rural and urban Mexico. Environmental Research Letters, 10(11), 114023. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nawrotzki, R. J., Riosmena, F., & Hunter, L. M. (2013). Do rainfall deficits predict U.S.-bound migration from rural Mexico? Evidence from the Mexican census. Population Research and Policy Review, 32(1), 129–158. doi: 10.1007/s11113-012-9251-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nawrotzki, R. J., Riosmena, F., Hunter, L. M., & Runfola, D. M. (2015b). Amplification or suppression: Social networks and the climate change—migration association in rural Mexico. Global Environmental Change, 35, 463–474. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.09.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Niang, I., Ruppel, O. C., Abdrabo, M. A., Essel, A., Lennard, C., Padgham, J., & Urquhart, P. (2014). Africa. In V. R. Barros, C. B. Field, D. J. Dokken, M. D. Mastrandrea, K. J. Mach, T. E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K. L. Ebi, Y. O. Estrada, R. C. Genova, B. Girma, E. S. Kissel, A. N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P. R. Mastrandrea, & L. L. White (Eds.), Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part B: Regional aspects. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (pp. 199–1265). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Nicholson, S. E. (2001). Climatic and environmental change in Africa during the last two centuries. Climate Research, 17(2), 123–144. doi: 10.3354/cr017123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Plaza, S., & Ratha, D. (2011). Diaspora for development in Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. RCoreTeam. (2015). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.Google Scholar
  64. Riosmena, F. (2009). Socioeconomic context and the association between marriage and Mexico–US migration. Social Science Research, 38(2), 324–337. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2008.12.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Ruggles, S., King, M. L., Levison, D., McCaa, R., & Sobek, M. (2003). IPUMS-international. Historical Methods, 36(2), 60–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ruiter, S., & De Graaf, N. D. (2006). National context, religiosity, and volunteering: Results from 53 countries. American Sociological Review, 71(2), 191–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Saha, K. K., Frongillo, E. A., Alam, D. S., Arifeen, S. E., Persson, L. A., & Rasmussen, K. M. (2009). Household food security is associated with growth of infants and young children in rural Bangladesh. Public Health Nutrition, 12(9), 1556–1562. doi: 10.1017/s1368980009004765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schatz, E., Gomez-Olive, X., Ralston, M., Menken, J., & Tollman, S. (2012). The impact of pensions on health and wellbeing in rural South Africa: Does gender matter? Social Science and Medicine, 75(10), 1864–1873. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.07.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Schlenker, W., & Roberts, M. J. (2009). Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to US crop yields under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(37), 15594–15598. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0906865106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Schneider, A., Friedl, M., & Potere, D. (2009). A new map of global urban extent from MODIS satellite data. Environmental Research Letters, 4(4), 1–11. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/4/044003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sinatti, G. (2009). Home is where the heart abides: Migration, return and housing in Dakar, Senegal. Open House International, 34(3), 49–56.Google Scholar
  72. Sinatti, G. (2011). ‘Mobile transmigrants’ or ‘unsettled returnees’? Myth of return and permanent resettlement among Senegalese migrants. Population Space and Place, 17(2), 153–166. doi: 10.1002/psp.608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sinatti, G. (2014). Masculinities and intersectionality in migration: Transnational wolof migrants negotiating manhood and gendered family roles. In T. Thanh-Dam, D. Gasper, H. Jeff, & S. Bergh (Eds.), Migration, gender and social justice (pp. 215–226). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Smidt, C. (2003). Religion as social capital: Producing the common good. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Stark, O., & Bloom, D. E. (1985). The new economics of labor migration. American Economic Review, 75(2), 173–178.Google Scholar
  76. Stern, N. (2007). Economics of climate change: The Stern review. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Sullivan Robinson, R., Meier, A., Trinitapoli, J., & Svec, J. (2014). Integrating the demographic and health surveys, IPUMS-I, and Terra Populus to explore mortality and health outcomes at the district level in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania. African Population Studies, 28(2), 917–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Taylor, J. E., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Massey, D. S., & Pellegrino, A. (1996). International migration and community development. Population Index, 62(3), 397–418. doi: 10.2307/3645924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Taylor, E. J., & Martin, P. L. (2001). Human capital: Migration and rural population change. In B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (Eds.), Handbook of agricultural economics (Vol. 1). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
  80. UNDP. (2014). Human development report 2014. New York, NY: United Nations Development Programme.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. UNPD. (2012). World population prospect (2012 revisions): Glossary of demographic terms. New York, NY: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  82. Ward, P. S., & Shively, G. E. (2015). Migration and land rental as responses to income shocks in rural China. Pacific Economic Review, 20(4), 511–543. doi: 10.1111/1468-0106.12072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Waterlow, J. C., Buzina, R., Keller, W., Lane, J. M., Nichaman, M. Z., & Tanner, J. M. (1977). The presentation and use of height and weight data for comparing the nutritional status of groups of children under the age 10 years. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 55(4), 489–498.Google Scholar
  84. WFP, & CDC. (2005). Measuring and interpreting malnutrition and mortality. Rome: Wold Food Programme.Google Scholar
  85. WHO. (1983). Measuring change in nutritional status. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  86. Wodon, Q., Burger, N., Grant, A., Joseph, G., Liverani, A., & Tkacheva, O. (2014). Climate change, extreme weather events, and migration: Review of the literature for five Arab countries. In E. Piguet & F. Laczko (Eds.), People on the move in a changing climate (pp. 111–135). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphael J. Nawrotzki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Allison M. Schlak
    • 1
  • Tracy A. Kugler
    • 1
  1. 1.Minnesota Population CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations