Contributions of migration to household resilience among rural rice farmers in the Mahanadi delta

Landscape in the delta

Landscape in the delta

DECCMA researcher, Dr Ellie Tighe (University of Southampton), spent six months in the Mahanadi Delta, Odisha, India undertaking qualitative research on the impact of migration in helping households in the delta cope with various shocks and stresses. Dr Tighe was accompanied by fellow University of Southampton research, Dr John Duncan who was conducting research as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded PREFUS project researching the impacts of natural disasters on the resilience of small-scale rice farmers.

Dr Tighe conducted over 50 in-depth, qualitative interviews with selected rice farming households across 10 villages in the Mahanadi Delta (35 of these households had a member migrating). These interviews explored the livelihood strategies employed by the households, the major shocks and stresses to their livelihoods, their coping strategies in general, and how migration enabled the household to cope and avoid such shocks and stresses. Themes were identified highlighting contributions of migration to household asset profiles, and subsequent resilience to climate shocks and stresses.

The findings identified four core types of migration:

  • Seasonal and cyclic migration of unskilled labour into low-value, precarious and irregular employment within minimal contribution to household resilience;
  • Long term and semi-permanent migration of low or semi-skilled labour into formal, low-wage employment with varied contribution to household resilience;
  • Permanent migration of high-skilled labour, high-value salaried employment contributing to household resilience.

The relationship between migration and household resilience to climatic shocks and stresses were embedded within the local institutional context (e.g. the effectiveness of local government institutions, quality of local social networks, availability and quality of local employment opportunities and existing household social and material asset profiles). These factors therefore have impacts on the effectiveness on migration as an adaptation strategy

Dr Tighe and her colleagueā€™s findings will be submitted to a peer-review journal for publication shortly.

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