How will climate change affect international migration? Angel Cruz, Ph.D. and Nora Haenn, Ph.D. look at climate change and migration from the standpoint of smallholder farmers in Mexico and, especially, El Salvador.
by Nora Haenn and Angel Cruz
Published onJan 15, 2022
People on the Move (and Sometimes Not) — Part 1
How will climate change affect international migration? In this video (Part 1 of 2) Angel Cruz, Ph.D. and Nora Haenn, Ph.D. look at climate change and migration from the standpoint of smallholder farmers in Mexico and, especially, El Salvador. Working fewer than 25 acres of land and with earnings of five or six dollars a day, these farmers grow coffee, jalapeño chile peppers and other food we enjoy. They also grow food for their own families, often on marginal lands. Their precarious circumstances make smallholder farmers especially vulnerable when climate change alters farming conditions. Will smallholders respond to climate change by migrating internationally? Typically people respond to farm challenges first by turning to locally available resources. For those who do turn to international migration as a last resort, their travels build on long-standing ties that already connect the United States with our neighbors to the South.
“Migration is often misperceived as the failure to adapt to a changing environment. It is, however, one of the main coping and survival mechanisms that is available to those affected by environmental degradation and climate change.” – Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission
Nora Haenn teaches anthropology and international studies at NC State. For 25 years she has examined Mexico’s small-scale farmers as they interact with rain forest protection programs, economic development initiatives, and international migration pressures. She received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Indiana University. Haenn is the author of Marriage after Migration: An Ethnography of Money, Romance, and Gender in Globalizing Mexico and Fields of Power, Forests of Discontent.
Angel Cruz is the Academic and Extension Initiatives Manager at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), as well as the coordinator for the statewide Local Foods Council. Cruz's work at CEFS focuses on sustainable agriculture education and developing diverse career pathways in agriculture and food systems. She received a Ph.D. in agroecology from NC State. Cruz's interest in agriculture began as a child, growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of rural North Carolina. Her passion for sustainable agriculture began while she was living and working in El Salvador.