Why successful in situ adaptation with environmental stress does not prevent people from migrating? Empirical evidence from Northern Thailand

Patrick Sakdapolraka, Panomsak Promburomb, Alexander Reifc
Taylor & Francis.
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This article examines the relationship between rainfall-related events and trends, livelihood and food security and migration in rural upland communities in Thailand. This study was conducted as one of eight case studies within the framework of the ‘Where the Rain Falls’ Project. This article is based on empirical research in four villages in the Province Lamphun, Northern Thailand. The households’ livelihood in the research area is characterized by a high level of on and off-farm diversification and integration into national and global market structures. Migration – internal as well as international – is widespread. Based on the data gathered in a multi-method field-based research design, the study observed that while households are exposed to various rainfall related stressors, such as the extreme rainfall in 2011 which resulted in heavy floods in the Central Plains of Thailand, migration is not considered as a primary coping and risk mitigation strategy. Environmental factors are furthermore not the primary explanatory factor for pattern of mobility. The study highlights the complex relationship between environmental factors including rainfall and migration beyond determinism notions of environmental migration. This study points out that while migration might not be caused by rainfall-related events and trends, through migration induced translocal connectedness, the social resilience of exposed households and communities can be strengthened.

Taylor & Francis.

DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2013.826129