Apart from adverse weather events, multinational corporations are adding to the problems. They have indulged in a lot of land grabbing in Indonesia. More than 300,000 hectares of forests have been burned down to make way for other lucrative businesses. This has led to high pollution levels resulting in severe respiratory health problems in the communities. The construction of numerous electric power plants is destroying the marine life of the oceans and forcing fisherfolk to migrate elsewhere. Also, large scale conversion of farmlands into palm oil plantations has depleted the water level and made surrounding areas dry, resulting in forced migration of people.
In 2013, Philippines suffered one of its greatest natural disasters when Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban and many other neighbouring cities. More than 7,360 people were dead or missing and some 4.1 million were displaced. Some of the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan had families living in Cavite. After Haiyan, the survivors' families in Cavite planned to go back to Tacloban and help their relatives with reconstruction and rehabilitation. However, fearing the loss of his workforce, the Mayor of Rosario, a municipality in Cavite, offered to relocate the Haiyan survivors to Cavite instead. Isla Paglaum, a beach resort, was converted into a relocation site for the survivors. As of 2018, there are some 150 families living in this area together with a few families coming from other parts of Cavite.
The way forward
A common consensus that emerged from the discussions was the urgent need to conduct and document evidence based studies that investigate the effects of climate change on internal and external migration, and to engage with governments at local and regional level to come up with sustainable solutions that address the causes and effects of climate migration.
And let us not forget that, more often than not, human activities like uncontrolled mining, faulty urban planning, depletion of forest cover, unplanned construction of dams, are all perfect precursors to worsening weather conditions like droughts, floods, landslides, water and air pollution... the list is endless!
Political decisions are overriding the interests and safety of the majority of the people for the benefit of a select few. We need to have well-informed and knowledgeable citizens who can unite and #RiseUp to change mindsets and hold governments to account.
Shobha Shukla - CNS (Citizen News Service)