The impact of migrant remittances on water resources in a remote rural region in Kerala, India

Agnes Pohle, University of Kassel
Beatrice Knerr, University of Kassel

Since the beginning of the 21st century, migratory dynamics related to environmental degradation have become a burning issue. Forecasts indicate a strong increase in this type of migration over the next years, with depletion and degradation of water resources as a major cause. In this context, the research project investigates the linkage between migrants’ remittances and their impact on water resources, focusing on the Indian state of Kerala. So far, a number of specific studies focus on topics related to remittances spending, have indicated, that investment out of remittances has a significant impact on water resources, but no in-depth investigations are available. The research project tries to fill this gap by targeting the remittances-water nexus in rural farm households. It analyzes how far remittances contribute to water shortages due to investments of received remittances in agriculture. Kerala is considered as water-rich state. However, as rain falls are bi-modal, people suffer from water shortage during the dry months of the year, in spite of the state’s 44 rivers and surplus rainfall during monsoon seasons. Almost 50% of the population work in the farm sector, and are highly dependent on freshwater resources for securing their livelihood. Depletion of fresh water resources have caused many to seek additional income by embarking on migration-cum-remittances strategies. Part of the remittances, in turn, is invested in facilities which improve the household’s access to fresh water. The research group starts from the assumption that there is indeed significant evidence that remittances have a significant socio-economic and environmental impact. The hypothesis derived from that is going to be tested using survey data. Quantitative methods of data analysis are multivariate regression and timeline analysis. The results might serve as a basis to support government, national or international agencies to respond to challenges of environmental related socio-economic change.

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Presented in Poster Session 2