Environmental hazard and migration intentions in a coastal area in Ghana: a case of sea flooding

Abstract

Recently, there has been significant debate about whether ‘environmental migration’ can constitute a form of adaptation to environmental change, as opposed to forced or flight migration. The Foresight Report on Migration and Environmental Change (2011) suggested environmental factors are one driver of migration, as well as political, social, economic and demographic drivers, and that—under the right conditions—migration can be a form of adaptation to changing climatic conditions. However, this is dependent on migrants having adequate social and financial capital to undertake beneficial types of migration; it further argues that environmental change may result in ‘trapped populations’ whereby people who lack the necessary resources to re-establish livelihoods elsewhere may be left exposed to increasingly severe environmental shocks and stresses in situ. Research on the climate-migration nexus in West Africa has largely focused on out-migration from the semi-arid Sahel with more limited evidence about how sea flooding interacts with migration flows. This paper attempts to help fill this knowledge gap. Using data from a representative survey of households across three coastal communities in Ghana’s Volta River Delta, this paper concludes that exposure to sea flooding may not be a primary cause of out-migration as other community, economic and political factors influence migration intentions and decisions. Thus, it is important for planned adaptation interventions to be strengthened in situ to enable households, particularly farming households, sustain their livelihoods.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    According the 2010 national census, the population of the case study sites was as follows: Ocanseykope—9835, Anyakpor—8572 and Ada-Foah—17,456.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the International Development Research Centre of Canada for providing funding for this study through the Climate Change Adaptation Research Training Capacity for Development (CCARTCD) Project with Component Number: 106548-001. The data for this study can be obtained from the second author at nyamedorhayford@yahoo.com.

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Correspondence to Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe or Felix Hayford Nyamedor.

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Codjoe, S.N.A., Nyamedor, F.H., Sward, J. et al. Environmental hazard and migration intentions in a coastal area in Ghana: a case of sea flooding. Popul Environ 39, 128–146 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-017-0284-0

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Keywords

  • Environmental hazard
  • Sea flooding
  • Climate change
  • Coastal communities
  • Migration intentions
  • Ghana