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Environmental migration from Albay, Philippines: Pathways and impacts

Hedda Ransan-Elliott (PhD student, Sociology) Hosts in the Philippines: Ateneo de Manila and University of the Philippines Diliman

The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this paper do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.

Internal migration in the Philippines

Ilocos Causal factors Migration patterns Migrant welfare Western and central Visayas
International migration 8-11 million


Western Mindanao

Philippines population density

Climate change: Projections

Stronger monsoon Mean annual temperature increase by 1.7oC to 2.4oC by 2050


More pronounced wet/dry season

Sea-level rise

Source: DENR Second national communication climate change, 2009

Research questions & methods

How does environmental change affect migration patterns (directly and indirectly)? What are the impacts of migration on the migrant, the migrants family and the source community? How does the decision to migrate get made? Are there any differences in the migration decision when the impact is sudden-onset or slow-onset? What are the impacts of outside intervention (NGO or government) on adaptive capacity/risk management?
Methods: Qualitative case study semi structured interviews/participatory group exercises

Case study background: Albay

Background: Magapo and Tandarora

Results: General migrant characteristics

1. Young, single migrants Can lead to permanent migration Not as much pressure to send remittances Whole families of children gone (only parents left behind) For adventure/parents request/earn more money


Household heads (M & F) Back and forth migration Seasonal - $$ pays for daily expenses + farm inputs Husband and wife take turns More commonly women domestic workers

Very high prevalence: Every family has current/returned migrant Destination: Manila and surrounding provinces; very few OFWs

Results: Environmental stressors and potential impacts

Typhoons: flash foods, landslides, destroy house/lose livestock, lose working time, lose harvest, increase in pests Strong El Nio: loss of production Strong la Nia: flooding/loss of production, pests Mt Mayon eruption: whole crop, houses, roads destroyed (10 years) Southwest monsoon: heavy rain/loss of production Northwest monsoon: strong winds/loss of production
Chronic environmental degradation: soil erosion and acidification

Impacts vary by livelihood, household/community resilience, external support etc

Results: Impacts on farming livelihoods

Agricultural livelihoods Serious lack of institutional support (e.g. agri extension) strong lack of interest in farming as future livelihood Increasingly older farmers increasingly part-time farming environmental degradation climate change lack of rural or even regional vision (theres no jobs here farming is like gambling try my luck in Manila)

Results: Adaptive capacity

Access to credit: government has been unsuccessful, NGOs dont have enough resources hence rise in informal borrowing 5-6ers etc)

Micro-insurance/banking: low permeation; lack of suitable/trusted banking facilities lack of trust in a savings culture
Client-patron relationships: long history of paternalistic development (ongoing); few examples of genuine participatory development processes; low levels of trust in government (nepotism/corruption); good intentions not translated on the ground; challenges of devolution

Effective emergency planning but ineffective support for recovery in agriculture

Impacts of migration
Majority of migration is survival migration mostly does not lead to social mobility (casual/low paid work) Many households entirely reliant on remittances (can put pressure on migrants who may have to borrow money)

Long distance families: negative impacts on children; vulnerable single mothers/elderly parents;
Relocation inside Albay on the whole unsuccessful most return to former barangay or go elsewhere to work and even live. A lot of people in relocation sites are widowers or single mothers whose children must work in Manila to sustain them

Important policy considerations: Origin

Dependent on policy goals protect vulnerable migrants? Reduce/increase ruralurban migration? Improve development outcomes of migration? Maximise cheap and flexible labour supply? Public policies are a sub-set of relatively unpredictable and complex institutional factors that interact with other social drivers which leads to migration

Prevent migration unlikely to work with migration control

Rural development must account for the interdependent nature of rural-urban linkages Knowledge gaps: Existing migration streams need to be understood in greater detail migrants will have different needs dependent on their: Labour market position, Skills/qualifications, level of agency/bargaining power

Important policy considerations: Destination

Protection of those in informal sector Urbanisation challenges Consider impact of separation on the family long-term development of the Philippines Job creation where? What skills required? Whos left out?

Policy recommendations
National Strengthen/create labour laws for low income/informal workers: construction, domestic workers Provincial/Municipal Development in rural areas off-farm jobs creation especially for women Improve institutions/programs for savings, micro-credit, micro-insurance Sustainable agriculture market access, organic, inclusive investment in technology irrigation etc Improve quality/availability of education Participatory relocation process Barangay Better coordination with brgy council (e.g. they can provide recommendation letter to migrants) Farmers organisation support from municipal/prov/NGOs

Where to next? Thinking points

Knowledge gaps?

From ends to means? Institutions, policies?

Reactive to proactive policy?