An assessment of how governments can help environmental refugees

Project Status: 

More people are displaced because of environmental reasons than politics, war or discrimination, yet there are no legislative frameworks that provide support for this group. 

The project will assess whether or not governments in Southern Africa are prepared to create support structures that will accommodate people who migrate from their homes due to floods, drought and extreme weather patterns. It will also track the effectiveness of their disaster response strategies by checking facilities and resources that municipalities have to deal with an influx of people.    
They will do this through a participatory approach consisting of interviews, focus group discussions and workshops with key policy-makers. These are set to begin in the second quarter of 2017.  Researchers, which include, political scientists, anthropologists and development studies scholars, expect to develop an understanding of what environmental refugees need to assimilate in the new area.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
The aim is to inform governments about their role in supporting people displaced because of environmental reasons and help them develop context-specific policy guidelines to adequately deal with environmental refugees at a local and regional level. Through the support of the Water Research Commission, the project hopes to contribute to the growing body of empirical evidence on the links between climate change and human mobility and thereby help to improve the adaptive capacity of states and municipalities.


Water Research Commission


Water Research Commission

Contact Person

Dr Inga Jacobs-Mata