Veni Project: Environmentally-related migration in the digital age


Veni Project: Environmentally-related migration in the digital age

Dr. Ingrid Boas has been awarded a Veni grant – a personal grant under NWO’s innovation scheme – which will run from October 2016-September 2020.

Recent publications

Summary of the project

Environmental impacts are a growing factor in human migration. Between 2008 and 2014, more than 25 million people per year were uprooted because of rapid-onset disasters such as floods and storms (IDMC 2015). Climate change is expected to make this worse. Whilst much scholarly research has been done on environmentally-related migration, a blind spot remains when information and communication technologies (ICTs) come into the equation. This whilst ICTs – such as mobile phones and smart phones – and related information exchange are playing a crucial role in decisions and practices of migrants.

The central aim of this research is to provide a fundamental understanding of the ways in which ICT-enabled information exchange shapes practices and flows of environmentally-related migration. Through ethnographic methods, the research will inductively build a novel conceptual framework that can demonstrate relations between ICT-usage, information exchange and practices of environmentally-related migration. This will also include an analysis of the content of the information exchanged via ICTs to examine how and to what degree migrants communicate about environmental events. This simultaneously provides a new method to identify the role that the environment plays in these migration processes compared to other socio-economic drivers of migration.

The research is conducted via two case-studies: Bangladesh and Kenya. In Bangladesh it is analyzed how ICT-enabled information exchange shapes migration in the context of floods and storms. In Kenya this is analyzed in the context of drought. A key method is travelling with migrants to key sites, such as nearby cities and (cross)border villages, to study the role of ICT-enabled information exchange in their migration practices.

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