Displacement in a changing climate

This thematic series explores the scale, patterns, drivers and impacts of internal displacement associated with slow-onset environmental change and disasters to inform policies and practices for managing and reducing displacement risk.

Research agenda

Internal displacement associated with slow-onset environmental change and disasters is a complex and dynamic phenomenon. Often hard to distinguish from internal migration, displacement driven by gradually evolving environmental change is primarily a development issue.

It is difficult to paint a consistent picture of displacement associated with slow-onset events because of the wide range of phenomena, impacts, drivers and types of movement they provoke and regions they affect. It is neither easy to characterise, nor easy to plan for, and more concrete examples and evidence of how displacement occurs in different situations is needed to inform more solid risk assessments and evaluations of appropriate policy responses.

Latest publication

"Nothing to put in your mouth": Seeking durable solutions to drought displacement in Ethiopia

Based on two hundred and nineteen interviews and qualitative methodologies conducted in July 2019 in the Somali region of Ethiopia, this study examines the drivers of displacement in pastoralist communities of the arid and semi-arid lowland areas of Ethiopia. Following on from the catastrophic droughts that occurred between 2015 and 2017, and in which pastoralists in the region lost up to 80 per cent of their livestock, we found that many still live in camps reliant on aid up to four years later.

The report findings show that displacement triggered by drought in Ethiopia is a protracted but short-range issue, and that those displaced prefer to integrate in their new locations rather than to return home.


Research lead

Bina Desai

We are always looking to strengthen and expand our existing partnerships. If you are interested in working with us on slow-onset disaster displacement, please contact bina.desai@idmc.ch.

Have a look at our other research areas here