Heat stress fuels migration in Pakistan

Adaptation to high temperatures should be an important part of climate change combat plan, says a research based on data collected from within the country

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Tuesday 28 January 2014

High temperatures fuel migration more than any other extreme weather event, according to a survey in Pakistan.

For the survey, US researchers monitored 4,428 individuals from 583 households in rural Pakistan from 1991 to 2011. They also measured key weather events during the period, such as cumulative rainfall during the monsoon season, and changes in rainfall, temperatures and atmospheric moisture. They observed a stark correlation between the weather events and migration by people. “Heat stress, not high rainfall, flooding or moisture, is most strongly associated with migration,” the researchers noted in journal Nature Climate Change, published on January 26.

Migration is high when temperature is high and rainfall is scarce. Such extreme heat stress fuels migration among both land-owners and non-land owners, who either migrate within the village or move outside the village. Farm income suffers the most as high temperatures wipe out over one-third of the agricultural yields. People dependent on non-farm income also incur losses, though to a lesser extent.

The researchers say their survey is relevant for countries like Pakistan that are vulnerable to climate change because the governments’ plans to battle climate change have not focused sufficiently on how to adapt to high temperatures.

Heat stress increases long-term human migration in rural Pakistan

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