Connecting the dots between climate change, household water insecurity, and migration

Justin Stoler, Alexandra Brewis, Joseph Kangmennang, Sara Beth Keough, Amber L. Pearson, Asher Y. Rosinger, Christine Stauber, Edward GJ Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Climate change is now considered a primary global driver of migration, with water insecurity theorized to be a key determinant. Most studies have focused on large-scale climate migration events triggered by extreme weather events such as droughts, storms, or floods. But there are few studies of how climate change, interacting with background social, economic, and political processes, shapes the everyday household-level experience of water insecurity and subsequent migration decision-making beyond the contexts of disasters and agricultural livelihoods—an invisible ‘slow drip’ of migration. This review proposes a complementary, alternative framework for linking climate change, household-level water insecurity, and environmental migration by positioning household water insecurity as a critical pathway for shaping migration decision-making in the context of socio-environmental change. We present evidence that household water insecurity is a push factor that motivates household members to migrate due to water-related disruptions to physical and mental health, livelihoods beyond agriculture, and social relationships. We close with implications for anti-poverty and development initiatives, and for water interventions to mitigate forced climate migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences


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