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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access October 9, 2015

Climate Change and Rural Out-migration in Himalaya

Prakash C. Tiwari and Bhagwati Joshi

Abstract

This paper examines linkages between climate change and rural out-migration in Himalaya. Subsistence agriculture constitutes the main source of food and rural livelihoods in the region although the availability of arable land is severely limited and crop productivity is low. The constraints of the subsistence economy compel a large proportion of the adult male population to outmigrate from the mountain region in search of livelihoods and employment. Changing climatic conditions have stressed Himalayan agricultural and livelihood systems through higher mean annual temperatures and melting of glaciers and snow, altered precipitation patterns and hydrological disruptions, and more frequent and severe extreme weather events. The amount of rainfall events and number of rainy days has declined respectively by 52% and 34% during the last ten years and the incidence of high intensity rainfall and droughts have increased. These changes have disrupted the hydrological systems and reduced the availability of water resulting in frequent crop failures, declines in irrigation potential (25%), decreased agricultural productivity (26%), and loss of rural livelihoods (34%) in traditional rural sectors. These pressures have contributed to increasing trends of rural out-migration, specifically an overall increase of 2536% between 2001 and 2013. The increasing trend of outmigration among male youth has affected the quality of life of rural women through feminization of mountain agriculture and resource development processes.

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Received: 2014-11-10
Accepted: 2015-3-30
Published Online: 2015-10-9

© 2015 Prakash C. Tiwari, Bhagwati Joshi

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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