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South-North Migration in Central America and West Africa

PI: Alex de Sherbinin, Columbia University Climate

Year selected for award: 2021

Comparing Underlying Drivers of South-North Migration in Central America and West Africa

Principal Investigator: Alex de Sherbinin, Columbia University Climate School

Co-Investigators: Michael J. Puma, Columbia University Climate School, and David Wrathall, Oregon State University

Years of Award:  2022-2025

Managing Service Agency: Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Project Description: 
The recent migration crises on the United States’ and Europe’s southern borders represent both humanitarian challenges and fundamental threats to national sovereignty and security. While climate-related extremes such as cyclones, floods, and drought currently mostly act as risk multipliers in the chain of causality, climate-related mobility may intensify as climate change impacts worsen over the coming decades. Understanding the drivers of the flows in respective source areas – Central America and West Africa, respectively – is seen as critical to policy responses, and decision makers are increasingly reliant on actionable social science research to design appropriate policies. This research will seek to answer a set of key questions that illuminate the similarities and differences across the two regions in drivers of migration; the degree to which climate factors versus individual, structural, and governance factors play a role in contributing to migration flows; and how flows may change owing to combined changes in social, political, economic and climate factors. To answer these questions, the team will harness cutting-edge research methodologies and will be guided by current migration theory.