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Journal Article

"We are still here" - climate change, gender and immobility in highly mobile Himalayan communities


Upadhyay,  Himani
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Vinke,  Kira
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Weisz,  Helga
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Upadhyay, H., Vinke, K., Weisz, H. (2024): "We are still here" - climate change, gender and immobility in highly mobile Himalayan communities. - Climate & Development, 16, 5, 443-457.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_28562
In this paper we ask: why do people in rural agrarian communities facing increasing migration pressures from changing climatic conditions, stay? We aim to understand why people stay, who stays, what are the impacts of migration on those who stay, and what are their needs for adaptation? We study a population of people who do not migrate from Himalayan communities of Uttarakhand, India, despite their livelihoods being already severely disrupted by climate change climate change and high outmigration has led to abandoned so-called ‘ghost villages’. Semi-structured interviews (n = 72) were held with affected communities, experts, and policymakers. Results show that motivations for immobility are shaped by place attachment; place-based resource advantages; social milieu; dependence on subsistence agriculture and gender roles. We find that immobility experiences are differentiated by gender, age and in situ resources. Those who stay are negatively impacted by migration via loss of labour in agriculture, changes in population size and composition, loss of community, in addition to the negative impacts of climate change. Our results are likely relevant on a global scale, to other subsistence smallholder communities who stay despite increasing climate risks. These populations will need gender-sensitive support to adapt in place.