Migration and Water

Today, almost 15 per cent of the global population is on the move, with more than 244 million international migrants and 763 million internal migrants, UN statistics estimate (UN DESA, 2015). An increasing proportion of these migration flows is linked with the scarcity of natural resources. Consequently, on the one hand, the importance of managing natural resources is increasingly recognized in the migration debate. On the other hand, these migration flows have become an important issue to consider in various international, regional and national policy frameworks, including those related to water resource governance.

The increasing number of global water challenges and associated migration patterns – in many cases forced migration – create a strong impetus to discuss and integrate migration policy concerns in water governance at the global level. As part of its mandate on migration, environment and climate change, IOM has been examining the nexus between migration and freshwater governance and exploring the potential synergies between both policy domains. Recognized for its work in this domain, numerous contributions have been made in different fora to disseminate the knowledge, expertise and experience developed in this field.

On 22 March 2018, the IOM celebrated World Water Day, which coincided with the 9th World Water Forum that took place in Brasilia. During this forum, IOM Director General Ambassador William Lacy Swing delivered this video message at the High Level Panel on Water and Migration. On the occasion of the 2018 World Water Day, a Special Newsdesk has been released by IOM in a collaborative effort by the WASH team of the Department of Operations and Emergencies, the Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division of the Department of Migration Management and the Media and Communication Division.

“Wineh”, Years of Drought, is an IOM Columbia production funded by the IOM Development Fund (IDF).

In the desert of Guajira,  the northernmost part of Colombia, problems linked to severe water scarcity have been growing for half a century, constituting the main trigger for migration in the region. More than 400 families living in this area suffer from drought, its consequences on the availability of natural resources and its impact on health. Forced to migrate to Venezuela to ensure their survival, Wayuu communities always return home due to their commitment to their ancestral heritage.

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