Between 2016 and 2018, more than 2 million people in Somalia fled their homes, finding refuge elsewhere within their country.
Some said they left because of violent conflict. Even more said they left because of drought.
“We know that Somalia experienced a severe drought since 2016,” says Lisa Thalheimer of Oxford University.
To better understand how hot, dry conditions contributed to internal displacement, she analyzed roughly three years of weather data.
She found that a reduction in precipitation from about two inches a month to zero led to a fourfold increase in the number of people who relocated.
And a small increase in monthly temperatures — just a few degrees more than the average for that time of year — led to up to 10 times more displaced people.
She also identified a lag time of about three months between a big decrease in rain and people’s relocation.
“So it takes people really three months to say, like, ‘No, we cannot take it anymore. We have to leave. We have no other choice,’” she says.
So the study suggests that governments and humanitarian groups can anticipate increases in migration. And by acting early to support vulnerable people, they could help ensure that fewer have to flee.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ ChavoBart Digital Media