Characteristics of migration in Satjalia Island in the Indian Bengal Delta

Migration is a complex phenomenon. DECCMA defines migration as “the process by which individuals or whole households leave their usual place of residence for another geographic location, usually crossing an administrative or national border and remaining for at least six months, usually as a result of a change in the relative attractiveness, real or perceived, of the usual place of residence with respect to the destination.”

At the same time, DECCMA recognises that migration is multi-dimensional. The duration and distance of migration vary, as do the migration patterns of men and women in different contexts. Dr Tuhin Ghosh and his colleagues from Jadavpur University in Kolkata have been investigating the nature of migration in Satjalia Island in the Indian Bengal delta.

Local residents in Satjalia island have been trained to undertake a participatory household survey to investigate the nature of migration patterns. Climate change and environmental change are among the stresses contributing to migration, as sea level rise is higher than average, and the high population density exacerbates those at risk when river embankments fail.

The island experiences a variety of migration types, by men and women. In-migration and out-migration are both occurring, and on both a seasonal and permanent basis. Just over half of the migrants are men who migrate on a seasonal basis in search of work. In this clip, Dr Ghosh explains the results from the nearly-3000 surveyed households.

The nature of migration, and the destinations, strongly reflects dominant roles for men and women. The majority of seasonal male migrants are working age (36-55) and their main destinations are peri-urban areas in other cities, where they are able to find work as labourers. The rate of migration of women is much lower, and the destinations are typically urban centres (of cities closer to Satjalia) where they can find work within the domestic and childcare spheres. More information on this project was profiled on the TransRe website in March 2016 in a blog on “Understanding internal migration patterns in the Indian Bengal delta”

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