Internal Migration to Increase With Swelling Climate Change

Migrant Health Not Yet Healthy

Over 216 million people could migrate within their own country by 2050 across six regions because of swelling climate change, according to World bank’s latest report.

The report “Groundswell report” includes projections from three regions — East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This new report is based on the first Groundswell report from 2018, which covered Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America.


The report notes that Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants by 2050, East Asia and the Pacific will see a displacement of 49 million, South Asia will see 40 million,  North Africa 19 million, Latin America 17 million; and Eastern Europe and Central Asia will see a displacement of five million.

In the report, the World Bank maintains that the scale of internal climate displacement will  be largest in the poorest and most climate vulnerable regions. The report also projects a growth in internal climate migration for the next several decades and then accelerates through the second half of this century if countries do not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to current and future climate change impacts.

Kanta Rigaud and Viviane Clement, two lead authors, said, “Climate change – particularly impacts such as increases in water stress, drops in crop productivity, and sea-level rise compounded by storm surge – could force people to migrate in distress. Countries could see an emergence of climate migration hotspots, as early as 2030, which will then continue to intensify and expand. ”

“But the window to act is still open. Certainly, cutting emissions and ensuring that development is green, resilient, and inclusive is at the heart of curbing the human cost of climate change. At the same time, countries can also anticipate and prepare for the drivers of migration, for instance by supporting communities to adapt in place by diversifying livelihoods or by facilitating mobility when needed,” they said.


The report notes that changes in water availability are set to become the major factor of displacement in this region. The World Bank says that people from the coastal and inland areas where water scarcity is on the rise will migrate. North Eastern coast of Tunisia, North Western coast of Algeria, western and southern Morocco, and already water-stressed central Atlas foothills would see an increased migration. In Egypt, the eastern and western portions of the Nile Delta, including Alexandria, could also become out-migration hotspots due to both declining water availability and sea-level rise.

The report also notes that some places with better water availability will become climate in-migration hotspots such as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, the Casablanca-Rabat corridor, and Tangiers.

The report mentions that adaptation measures will continue to be critical for climate-sensitive sectors, including agriculture, given its importance for livelihoods and employment in the region. In Morocco, integrated water resource management and development will be vital as will efforts to deliver economic growth that is low-carbon and resilient.


The report mentions that sea level rise and storms could create climate out migrations hotspots in Mekong delta in Vietnam. These climate changes pose a threat to local livelihoods, including rice production, aquaculture, and fisheries. It said that climate in-migration hotspots would emerge in areas where the population is already growing like that in the Red River Delta and the coastal central region of Vietnam where water availability and crop productivity conditions are more favourable.

The report suggests that the coastal areas in Vietnam need climate resilient planning and concerned action.


Water availability and crop productivity will lead to climate in-migration hotspots in already densely populated and economically productive areas in central Asia. This includes such as the Ferghana Valley and Northern Kazakhstan. It also mentioned that important agricultural and pastoral mountainous regions of the Kyrgyz Republic that could experience greater water scarcity would see increased rural-urban migration.

  • Reducing global emissions and making every effort to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Embedding internal climate migration in far-sighted green, resilient, and inclusive development planning.
  • Preparing for each phase of migration, so that internal climate migration as an adaptation strategy can result in positive development outcomes.
  • Investing in better understanding of the drivers of internal climate migration to inform well-targeted policies.


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