Migration as a livelihood adaptation strategy in Gaza, southern Mozambique: A study on climate change adaptation and livelihood sustainability in the Limpopo River valley

Lisanne van de Kerkhof
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The effects of climate change are evident for communities living in the Limpopo River valley in southern Mozambique. The floods in this region will most likely become more frequent, and increase in intensity, while the overall population continues to grow. Permanent migration to the resettlement site of Chiaquelane is an option many people of the community in Chókwè have chosen, in order to adapt to the Limpopo River flood risk. Through qualitative research in both Chókwè and Chiaquelane, over a three month fieldwork period, this study was aimed at uncovering the implications of permanent migration as an adaptation strategy, using theories of livelihood sustainability and natural disaster risk resilience. Semi-structured interviews, group interviews, and field observation are the main research methods that were deployed. Main findings include, among others, that permanent migration to Chiaquelane brings about absolute safety from the Limpopo River floods, but it also entails a decrease in livelihood opportunities; the soils are less fertile, there are little to no employment opportunities and it is hard to start a (lost) business from scratch. The decision to stay in (or return to) Chókwè entails that people better preserve their social networks, can rely on pre-existing employment opportunities, are surrounded by more and better facilities, and most importantly, can continue to work on their machambas and sell the surplus on the market. The results of this study furthermore suggest that, in its current state, the resettlement programme tends to reinforce existing inequalities within the Gaza Province. Secondly, the results suggest that permanent migration is not a fully voluntary decision; it heavily depends on (1) the amount of received government assistance and (2) the assets – social as well as material – that are available to someone.