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Migration as source of risk-aversion among the environmental refugees : the case of women displaced by erosion of the river Ganga in the Malda District of West Bengal

[working paper]

Dutta, Priyanka

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Corporate Editor Universität Bielefeld, Fak. für Soziologie, Centre on Migration, Citizenship and Development (COMCAD)
Abstract "It is by now a well known fact that unsustainable development projects all across the globe, especially in the developing countries of the global South, have resulted in various kinds of environmental hazards like land slides, river-bank erosion, floods and so on and this has displaced a huge chunk of population, known in the current literature as the ‘environmental refugees’ from their ancestral homes and traditional livelihoods. In this context, it has to be kept in mind that all people who are displaced and are termed as ‘environmental refugees’ do not migrate. The decision to migrate in crisis situations like environmental hazards depends on a host of institutional and structural factors. Thus, not only the degree of vulnerability of an individual or a family in crisis situations depends on the institutional and structural factors as observed by various studies, but the capabilities and opportunities for mobility also depend to large extent upon these factors. Keeping this in mind, the present paper through an ethnographic field study in a few erosion-prone villages of the most backward district (in terms of Gender Development Index and Human Development Index) of the state of West Bengal in India, namely the Malda district, tries to find out how institutional and structural factors affect the migration decision of women belonging to various social and economic groups. The Malda case represents a unique situation of displacement of huge chunk of population, caused partly by shifting of the course of river Ganga and partly by the construction of a development project, namely, the Farakka Barrage. The main finding of the study is that migration in many of the cases, especially for the women-headed household, has often proved to be an enabling experience. The decision to migrate has often saved these households from the perils of starvation death caused by loss of cultivable land and other livelihood resources from the engulfment of the river Ganga." [author's abstract]
Keywords migration; environment; sustainable development; displacement; refugee; woman; climate change; vulnerability; natural disaster; India; developing country
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration; Ecology, Environment
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
City Bielefeld
Page/Pages 28 p.
Series COMCAD Working Papers, 98
Status Published Version
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne