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Climate Crisis Migration Is Increasing In Africa

By Countercurrents

03 July 2014

Crops are failing, livestock is dying and clean water is becoming scarce, forcing many people to abandon their traditional homes.

Failing crops, dying livestock and scarcity of clean water are forcing many people to abandon their traditional homes

Climate crisis is forcing people to migrate, leave their homes and occupation. It's being observed in Africa and in the Pacific island states.

In a report headlined “Climate change migration on the increase” The Zimbabwean reported on July 2, 2014 :

“Makuleke village is a melting pot for illegal migrants from Zimbabwe and Mozambique searching for greener pastures in their wealthy southern neighbor. It is located on South Africa 's eastern border area with Mozambique on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park .”

The report cites case of a farmer from Zimbabwe :

“Timothy Murombedzi, 30, from Buhera district in Zimbabwe , is one of many people living in South Africa illegally. “I was a farmer in Zimbabwe but the climate conditions have become unpredictable. It is now difficult to have a good rain-fed cropping season. I used to have more than 20 head of cattle but lost 15 beasts due to drought. I came here in 2010 and am doing menial jobs on the local farms. It is better than watching my cattle dying back home. Yes some people are running away from (President Robert) Mugabe's iron-fist rule but I am not one of those people. I am running away from drought and hunger,” Murombedzi said.

The report said:

“Murombedzi is one of the millions of climate change refugees from Zimbabwe searching for sustenance in various countries in and outside Africa . Although there are many reasons that force people to migrate, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is increasingly recognising that environmental degradation and climate change are among major drivers in both forced and voluntary migration.”

Shocking revelations

The Zimbabwean report said:

“Climate change threatens to cause one of the biggest refugee crises of all time and climate change experts have warned that up to 200 million people would be forced to abandon their homes over the course of the next century.

“Despite these shocking revelations, many African governments, Zimbabwe included, are not taking climate change migration seriously.

“In a recent interview, a renowned USA climate change activist, journalist and author, Ross Gelbspan warned that: ‘…. as we experience more crop failures, water shortages, and uncontrolled migrations by people whose lands become less able to support them, governments will become more totalitarian in their efforts to keep order in the face chaos. So it's really the political and economic aspects that I've been thinking about.'”

In search of jobs

Dealing the issue the report added:

“While the accepted line of argument has been that most of the migrants in South Africa are political and economic refugees, the truth however is that some are climate change refugees. And some people are migrating from as far as the Sahel Region and Horn of Africa in search of jobs. Crops are failing, livestock is dying and clean water is becoming scarce, forcing many people to abandon their traditional homes.

“A Zimbabwean climate change journalist based in South Africa , Fidelis Zvomuya, says farmers in Zimbabwe no longer employ as many workers as before due to persistent drought. This forces people to cross borders in search of employment in neighboring countries. The lack of food in areas like Matabeleland provinces in Zimbabwe where droughts are now an annual event is forcing people to cross to South Africa for jobs.”


Presenting a conflict-aspect of the climate crisis the report said:

“An expert on climate change migration, Mukundi Mutasa, recently opined that discussing migration was particularly important to southern Africa , a region that had suffered a number of climate-induced disasters in recent history. These include the flooding in the Zambezi Valley in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and in the Namibia 's Caprivi region, and droughts across the entire region.

“Mutasa warned that the mass movements have resulted in conflict among people as they fight over resources. Conflicts as a result of climate change migration have been evident in some parts of Zimbabwe where people are moving in large numbers to regions which are still receiving good rainfall. ‘And the xenophobic attacks in South Africa in the recent years are just a dress rehearsal of impending fights over resources', he warned.”

The report added:

“But migration as a result of climate change is not isolated to the southern parts of Africa . The Horn of Africa and Sahel regions have experienced among the worst climate change induced famines, forcing people to seek refuge in other countries. Millions have been affected. Governments and humanitarian organizations having been caught napping, as they are not prepared for such devastating famines and massive movements of people.

“Poverty, failing ecosystems, vulnerability to natural hazards and gradual environmental changes have always been linked to migration. Experts say climate change is expected to significantly affect migration in three distinct ways. First, the effects of warming and drying in some regions will reduce agricultural potential and undermine the provision of clean water and availability of fertile soil.

“Second, the increase in extreme weather events such as heavy rains and resulting flash or river floods in tropical regions will affect even more people and generate mass displacement. And sea-level rise will permanently destroy extensive and highly productive low-lying coastal areas that are home to millions of people who will have to relocate permanently.

“While the consequences of mass migration are not de facto negative, its main impacts overwhelmingly are. These include escalating humanitarian crises, rapid urbanization and associated slum growth, and stalled development.”

Evacuation to Fiji

Another report by Walter McDaniel headlined “Pacific nation evacuates to Fiji in response to rising sea levels” said:

“The land has been bought and preparations are being made. The island nation of Kiribati is slowly being drowned by rising sea levels and they are planning to escape shortly.

“President Anote Tong paid around $8.77 million for a 20 sq km piece of land for his people. He hopes that they will be able to spread out some but they are going to try to make a new life for themselves there. This information comes from a report by the Guardian.

“Many island nations are at risk of being swallowed up by the ocean. This applies not just to the Pacific, as with Kiribati , but to other areas such as the Indian Ocean .”

Walters writes:

“While the area has no shortage of boats, the reports so far have been unclear as to how they will be moving everyone. No matter how the evacuation happens it is very clear that they need to get out since the rising waters have decimated their ecosystem. Even if they are not completely submerged they will not be able to live their normal lives anymore.

“It may be too late to reverse climate change so people are attempting to find ways to mitigate the impact on our civilization. Moving cultures around is one popular method but could cause other problems. One piece of technology that may prove useful in the future is the creation of artificial islands. While this is not a perfect solution it would be a quick fix and some hope for those who urgently need help right now.”



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