Benefits of international migration for the environment in the home country: a case study in two Ecuadorian provinces

Fabrice C.E.M. Demoulin, Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix, Belgium
Sabine J. F. Henry, Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix, Belgium

This study is the first part of a doctoral project that aims to contribute to a better general understanding of the role of the migrant as agent of development for its own home country by focusing on the environmental aspects. The specific objective of this paper is to identify the benefits of the international migrations for the environment in the Ecuadorian Sierra by highlighting the environmental changes occurred after the departure of migrants in their home villages, with the Azuay and Cañar provinces as a case study. We assume that the whole interactions between the natural environment and the rural households are modified by the departure of one of its member to abroad. Hypotheses can be broadly divided into three categories: those related to the decrease of the workforce generated by the departure of the migrant, those engendered by the remittances and finally, those related to the transfers of knowledge, skills or ideas by the migrants. A qualitative survey will first be conducted in spring, 2010. In terms of expected results, significant changes in interactions between the natural environment and the rural household due to migration are expected. For example, we expect to find some households which have improved their agricultural practices thanks to their remittances by using new crop and cattle varieties, mechanisation, chemical inputs, etc. Each of observed changes will be assessed according to its impacts on environmental goods and services. We expect that the most environmentally-safe improvements should come from association of migrants’ projects thanks to a real environmental awareness and a more controlled budget management. In the current debate on the international migration, the study of environmental impacts in the home country seems strongly important. Yet, there is a real lack of empirical researches. Our study aims to contribute to a better understanding of this issue.

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Presented in Poster Session 2

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