“The way we talk about migration has major sociopolitical impacts,” said IWMI researcher Liza Debevec in her opening remarks at the webinar, “Water, migration and rural-development: What do we know?”
But migration from rural areas -- an important and pressing topic -- is not a new adaption strategy, she added. This phenomenon is characterized by complex motivations and impacts: IWMI researcher Alan Nicol outlined the case in Ethiopia, where factors like agriculture, education, and youth aspirations/limited employment opportunities contribute to migration.
“Migration is complex and layered, and it demands multi-level governance,” he said. Nicol and Debevec co-authored a December op-ed in Devex challenging the perception that migration is an inherent problem in need of a solution.
Hosted by IWMI, Global Water Partnership (GWP) and partners, the conversation explored links between water scarcity and out-migration from rural areas. The discussion grew from a session poll at 2019 Stockholm Water Week that revealed knowledge on the topic is still limited. A second session exploring policy implications will likely soon follow.
Other webinar speakers included FAO’s Patricia Mejias, who directed listeners to a 2018 FAO report for further context. And Dr. Nidhi Nagabhatla of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health highlighted the 2018 UN World Water Development Report.
The webinar was moderated by Debevec and Julienne Roux (GWP) and organized under the framework of the water and migration working group of WASAG (Global Framework for Water Scarcity in Agriculture) and the MARIS network (Migration, Agriculture and Resilience: Initiative for Sustainability)