Environmentally-related migration in the digital age


Environmental impacts are a growing factor in human migration. Since 1970, the likelihood of being displaced by an environmental disaster has risen with 60%. Since 2008, each year more than 25 million people were forced to migrate due to environmental impacts such as floods. Climate change is expected to make this worse. Whilst much scholarly research has been done on environmentally-related migration, a blind spot remains when information and communication technologies (ICTs) come into the equation. This whilst ICTs – such as mobile phones and smart phones – and related information exchange are playing a crucial role in decisions and practices of migrants.

The central aim of this research is to provide a fundamental understanding of the ways in which ICT-enabled information exchange shapes practices and flows of environmentally-related migration. Through ethnographic methods, the research will inductively build a novel conceptual framework that can demonstrate relations between ICT-usage, information exchange and practices of environmentally-related migration. This will also include an analysis of the content of the information exchanged via ICTs to examine how and to what degree migrants communicate about environmental events. This simultaneously provides a new method to identify the role that the environment plays in these migration processes compared to other socio-economic drivers of migration.

The research is conducted via two case-studies: Bangladesh and Kenya. In Bangladesh it is analyzed how ICT-enabled information exchange shapes migration in the context of floods and storms. In Kenya this is analyzed in the context of drought. Fieldwork will focus on migration in and from Barisal and Chittagong divisions in Bangladesh, and on migration in and from Baringo and Samburu counties in Kenya. This includes travelling with migrants to key sites, such as nearby cities and (cross)border villages, to study the role of ICT-enabled information exchange in their migration practices.


Wetenschappelijk artikel

Publicatie bedoeld voor een breed publiek





Dr. I.J.C. Boas

Verbonden aan

Wageningen University & Research, Maatschappijwetenschappen, Milieubeleid (ENP)


Dr. I.J.C. Boas


08/02/2017 tot 30/09/2020