Floods, tsunamis and severe droughts – how do extreme weather events drive migration numbers?
Displacements, or migration numbers, due to natural disasters have outpaced displacements due to conflict.
In 2017, 18.8 million people were estimated to be displaced due to natural disasters globally, whereas 11.7 million were displaced due to conflicts.
According to the Global Peace Index, there is a strong relationship between extreme weather events and displacement.
In Ethiopia, droughts in the mid-1970s and 1980s and subsequent famines led to waves of migration from drought-stressed areas, both voluntary and government-forced. In this case, both climatic and political factors impacted displacement and international migration. As a result of this instability, violence and insecurity increased in neighbouring countries, which further impacted Ethiopia.
By 2050, climate change is estimated to create up to 86 million additional migrants in sub-Saharan Africa, 40 million in South Asia and 17 million in Latin America as agricultural conditions and water availability deteriorate across these regions.