Livelihood and migration patterns at different altitudes in the Central Highlands of Peru

Andrea Milana, Raul Hob
Taylor & Francis
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The relationship between climate change, environmental change and migration in mountain areas is a relatively understudied research topic, particularly from an empirical point of view. This article aims at contributing to the literature by analysing the relationship between increasing rainfall variability, livelihoods and human mobility in three rural communities located in the Central Highlands of Peru. Traditional rain-fed agriculture is the most important economic activity in the area. This article highlights differences in livelihood and human mobility patterns between households located at different altitudes. While at higher altitudes (above 3900 m.a.s.l.) non-agricultural diversification is limited, at lower altitudes (up to 3600 m.a.s.l.) non-agricultural diversification is widespread and income from non-agricultural activities exceeds agricultural income. In this rural–urban context, rainfall patterns influence local livelihoods and migration decisions through their effect on agricultural production. More than four-fifths of the population noted changes in rainfall patterns and their negative effect on livelihoods. However, mobility patterns in the area are determined primarily by broader economic considerations. In the lowlands, one or more members of most households commute daily to work in the city of Huancayo. In the highlands, households (or some of its members) often resettle there. In both cases, circular migration patterns (including daily mobility) can be identified and households combine the scarce income from agricultural production with urban income rather than abandoning the farming land.

Taylor & Francis