Climate Change-Related Drivers of Migration in East Africa: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Reginald Chetto (1), Makarius Mdemu (2), Jacob Kihila (3)
(1) Department of Economics and Social Studies, Ardhi University, Tanzania, Tanzania, United Republic of,
(2) School of Spatial Planning and Social Sciences, Ardhi University, Tanzania, Tanzania, United Republic of,
(3) Institute of Human Settlement, Ardhi University, Tanzania , Tanzania, United Republic of


Despite the growing academic concern and policy interest in climate change drivers of migration, scientific evidence on the topic remains contested, with divergent claims of positive and negative contributions of climate change on human migration and displacement. This review seeks to assess the climate change-related drivers of migration with a focus on three East African countries: Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. They are among the most vulnerable countries in Africa, with one of the most mobile populations. The study used the available literature on climate change and migration as the data source. About 22 research articles on climate change and migration were sourced from the Web of Science and Scopus databases and critically reviewed.  The review generally indicates that climate change effects such as frequent drought and flood disasters, livestock pests, and crop diseases influence migration and displacement in the region. On the other hand, rising sea levels pose imminent risks that can cause migration if adaptation measures are not taken. The review has also revealed that responses to drought or livestock and crop diseases, be it localized adjustment or out-migration, are determined by households' adaptive capacity. For rapid onset climate events such as floods, the most vulnerable are the less fortunate living in poorly constructed structures in flood-prone zones. This review proposes strengthening the climate policy framework by mainstreaming climate change migration in East African nations’ adaptation plans. It also calls for promoting alternative livelihood activities as an adaptation strategy in areas prone to climate change to lessen human-forced migration and displacement.

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Reginald Chetto
[email protected] (Primary Contact)
Makarius Mdemu
Jacob Kihila
Chetto, R., Mdemu, M., & Kihila, J. (2024). Climate Change-Related Drivers of Migration in East Africa: An Integrative Review of the Literature. Environmental Science & Sustainable Development, 9(1), 42–56.

Article Details

Received 2023-08-19
Accepted 2023-09-25
Published 2024-03-31