Africa Eniday South Africa

Climate change and migrations in South Africa

Nicholas Newman Eniday August 2017
Man waving a South African flag on top of a mountain peak

Over the last few years, South Africa has become the destination of choice for increasing numbers of economic and climate-affected migrants from neighboring countries…

Just as in Europe, South Africa’s citizens worry that migrant workers are taking their jobs, lowering wages and contributing to crime rates. In recent years such concerns have led to protests by South Africans against migrant workers and businesses. The same forces that have driven west and east Africans to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in search of a “better life” are also driving southern Africans to seek the “South African dream.”

With domestic unemployment running at 27 percent in June 2017, South Africa is creating too few jobs for its own citizens, let alone newly arrived migrants whose numbers, according to various estimates, ranging from a high of 5 million to just 2.2 million.
While the total number of migrants is open to dispute, what is not in doubt is that a large proportion of migrants now in South Africa originate from Zimbabwe. A recent report on SW Radio Africa’s website stated, “it is believed there are between two and three million Zimbabweans living and working” in South Africa. This is hardly surprising given relative geographical proximity and an unemployment rate of around 90 percent, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

Reasons people want to work in South Africa

It is feared that climate change is likely to cause growing numbers to migrate from Africa’s heartlands towards Europe or southwards towards South Africa. Climate experts predict that Africa’s weather could become hotter, droughts could become harder and longer while rainfall could become heavier and cause flooding.
Extreme weather could make forestry, fishing, crop and livestock production less certain and more difficult. Even small changes in rainfall and temperature can affect the productivity of rural occupations, food security, and life. Read more

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