Environment, Climate Change and Migration in the Kyrgyz Republic

Antoine Chandonnet, Zuura Mamadalieva, Lidiya Orolbaeva, Lira Sagynbekova, Uran Tursunaliev, Damira Umetbaeva
International Organization for Migration
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The issue of environmental migration is relatively new on the international community’s agenda and gaining increased attention worldwide in the context of global climate change. In several parts of the world, recent research initiatives are currently deepening our understanding of the complex interactions between the environment, climate change and migration dynamics, which in turn allows to develop and implement effective policies aiming to mitigate the negative consequences of forced environmentally induced migration.

However, in Central Asia and in Kyrgyzstan in particular, the issue has received little attention from both researchers and policymakers. This dearth of awareness, knowledge, data and political will needs to be addressed, especially considering that due to its geographical and socio-economic characteristics, Kyrgyzstan is highly vulnerable to several migration-impacting environmental phenomena. Indeed, this research has demonstrated that sudden-onset natural disasters such as landslides and floods, as well as progressive phenomena such as land degradation and water stress, do affect migration decisions at the individual and household levels, whether by forcing people to move because of danger and destructions, or by slowly enticing them to do so due to negative impacts on livelihoods and subsistence strategies.

The main conclusion of this research can be summarized by the fact that even though migration in Kyrgyzstan remains mostly economically motivated, environment and climate related factors do play a significant role in migration dynamics. Indeed, economic push factors of migration often have strong but hidden environmental causes. This is partly due to the fact that Kyrgyzstan’s rural population’s livelihood strategies are highly sensitive to environmental and climate changes. Indeed, the high economic dependency on few economic activities such as agriculture and animal husbandry increases the population’s vulnerability to environmental changes and shocks.

The publication Environment, Climate Change and Migration in the Kyrgyz Republic investigates the complex interactions between environmental factors and migration dynamics in the country. 

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