Salaya (Quelle: A. Gänsbauer)

Migrants at risk. How rural-urban migrants coped with and adapted to the 2011 floods in Bangkok, Thailand

Principal investigator: Patrick Sakdapolrak (IfGR Uni Wien), Alexander Trupp (STHM University of the South Pacific)

Researcher: Sumiya Bilegsaikhan (external researcher), Anja Gänsbauer (IfGR Uni Wien)

Duration: 07/2016 - 12/2016

Funding: ASEA-UNINET (partial funding), TransRe

The discussion about the relationship between environment and migration revolves very often around the exposure of rural livelihoods to climate stress and migration as a stress reduction strategy. The geographical focus has been placed mainly to the areas of origin of migrants and the question how climate stresses functions as a push factor for out-migration. Less attention has been paid to migrants facing environmental risks in the destinations areas, particularly urban agglomerations. Metropolitan areas not only have to keep in step with the fast growth. Since metropolises are often located in delta and coastal regions, they can also show an enhanced risk for natural hazards. The exploratory project “migrants at risk” seeks to fill this gap by addressing the question of how vulnerable rural-urban migrants in the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area deal with urban natural disasters. The project focuses on the worst floods Thailand suffered in half a century. In 2011, excessive rainfalls and subsequent dam breaches inundated six million hectares of land and affected more than 13 million people. Especially Bangkok, the main destination for internal migrants and the “bottleneck” of the flood water coming from the north, was highly impacted. Based on qualitative interviews carried out in the Greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area the project focuses on the experiences of rural-urban migrants with the floods of 2011. It seeks to understand:

a) the coping strategies with the floods

b) the relevance of translocality in the context of natural disasters

c) the adaptation strategies to future floods

d) the interpretation and relevance of the floods in the light of previous experiences in the place of origin

The project will contribute to the highly relevant migration-environment nexus with the focus on urban natural disasters.