This dissertation examines the impacts of climate- and environment-related stress on migration from other sub-Saharan African countries to South Africa, which is a prominent destination for migrants. It describes the factors and processes that influenced migration decisions and provides insights into the experiences of these individuals before, during, and after migration.
Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with migrants from several sub-Saharan African countries now residing in South Africa’s Gauteng province, as well as key informants with expertise on migration, climate change, and environmental problems in Africa. Additional information was gathered from secondary material, such as reports, grey literature, and academic publications.
The principle finding is that, although climatic and environmental stresses are not the primary drivers for migration to South Africa, they play a clear contributing role, both directly and indirectly. The direct contributions included drought, land degradation, floods, and erratic rainfall. Such environmental drivers for migration did not occur in isolation, instead, they were found to frequently intersect with various economic, political, social, and demographic drivers. Indirect contributions were largely through negative impacts on economic and political factors that became direct drivers for migration.
Whether people respond to these adverse conditions by migrating depends on a number of factors that can be divided into three areas: intervening obstacles and facilitators of migration, personal and household characteristics, and expectations of the destination. Although some migrants in the re-search sample had experienced improvements in their quality of life since they had migrated to South Africa, the majority of migrants indicated that their lives were still characterised by insecurity, precariousness, and hopelessness.