Special Issue "Climate and Environmental Change Impacts on Health and Health Care--The Context of Food Insecurity, Conflict and Forced Migration"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Climate Change and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Barbara Schumann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Interests: public health; global health; epidemiology; environmental health; climate change and health; weather impacts on human health; climate and health in Sweden, Africa, and India

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental hazards due to climate change and other anthropogenic processes pose severe challenges for human health and health care systems. These hazards include droughts, flooding, sea level rise, storms, salinization, land degradation, and deforestation, among others, and often affect the most vulnerable populations. People’s health is at risk due to climate-driven violent conflicts and food insecurity, which are both drivers of voluntary and forced migration. In some regions, such as the Greater Horn of Africa, the scale of forced displacement is substantial, overburdening the displaced, host communities, aid organizations, and governments. The public health implications of the climate–food shortage–conflict–migration nexus are, however, still not well understood.

This Special Issue welcomes original and review articles that address health issues related to environmental and climate-induced violent conflict, food insecurity, and migration. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • slow onset events (droughts, salinization, soil erosion);
  • sudden onset events (floods, cyclones);
  • environmental degradation;
  • cross-border migration and forced displacement, internally displaced people;
  • food and water insecurity, famine;
  • mortality and morbidity, including infant and child health; epidemics;
  • mental health; gender-based violence;
  • violent conflicts;
  • availability and quality of health care services;
  • living conditions in refugee camps and informal settlements.

Keywords

  • climate change;
  • environmental change and degradation;
  • droughts;
  • conflicts;
  • natural disasters, floods, storms;
  • forced displacement, migration;
  • food insecurity;
  • health, morbidity, mortality;
  • public health and health care

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Planned Relocation and Health: A Case Study from Fiji
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4355; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084355 - 20 Apr 2021
Viewed by 147
Abstract
In Fiji, low-lying coastal villages are beginning to retreat and relocate in response to coastal erosion, flooding and saltwater intrusion. Planned relocation is considered a last resort as a form of adaptation to the impacts of climatic and environmental change. The health impacts [...] Read more.
In Fiji, low-lying coastal villages are beginning to retreat and relocate in response to coastal erosion, flooding and saltwater intrusion. Planned relocation is considered a last resort as a form of adaptation to the impacts of climatic and environmental change. The health impacts of planned relocation are poorly understood. This paper draws on data from multi-year research with residents of the iTaukei (Indigenous) Fijian village of Vunidogoloa. We used qualitative research methods to examine experiences of planned relocation, including residents’ accounts of their health and quality of life. In-depth interviews and group discussions were conducted with villagers living in a site of relocation, at four points in time (2015, 2016, 2019, and 2020). Twenty-seven people in Vunidogoloa, Fiji, participated in in-depth interviews, several on more than one occasion. Six group discussions with between eight to twelve participants were also conducted. Qualitative analytic software (NVivo) was used to analyse interview transcripts and identify themes. Villagers report both health benefits and challenges following planned relocation. Key facilitators for good health include movement away from some environmental risks to health, adequate drinking water and sanitation, food security including through farms and kitchen gardens, livelihood opportunities, improved access to schools and health services, and appropriate housing design. However, residents also refer to unanticipated risks to health including increased consumption of packaged goods and alcohol, disruptions to social structures and traditional values, and disrupted place attachment following movement away from a coastal site of belonging with consequences for mental wellbeing. Therefore, planned relocation has altered the social determinants of health in complex ways, bringing both health opportunities and risks. These results highlight the need for context-specific planning and adaptation programs that include meaningful involvement of community members in ongoing decision making, and call for an understanding of diverse social determinants of health that emerge and evolve in contexts of planned relocation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Risk Exchange: Health and Mobility in the Context of Climate and Environmental Change in Bangladesh—A Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2629; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052629 - 05 Mar 2021
Viewed by 615
Abstract
Background: Climate change influences patterns of human mobility and health outcomes. While much of the climate change and migration discourse is invested in quantitative predictions and debates about whether migration is adaptive or maladaptive, less attention has been paid to the voices of [...] Read more.
Background: Climate change influences patterns of human mobility and health outcomes. While much of the climate change and migration discourse is invested in quantitative predictions and debates about whether migration is adaptive or maladaptive, less attention has been paid to the voices of the people moving in the context of climate change with a focus on their health and wellbeing. This qualitative research aims to amplify the voices of migrants themselves to add nuance to dominant migration narratives and to shed light on the real-life challenges migrants face in meeting their health needs in the context of climate change. Methods: We conducted 58 semi-structured in-depth interviews with migrants purposefully selected for having moved from rural Bhola, southern Bangladesh to an urban slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis under the philosophical underpinnings of phenomenology. Coding was conducted using NVivo Pro 12. Findings: We identified two overarching themes in the thematic analysis: Firstly, we identified the theme “A risk exchange: Exchanging climate change and health risks at origin and destination”. Rather than describing a “net positive” or “net negative” outcome in terms of migration in the context of climate change, migrants described an exchange of hazards, exposures, and vulnerabilities at origin with those at destination, which challenged their capacity to adapt. This theme included several sub-themes—income and employment factors, changing food environment, shelter and water sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) conditions, and social capital. The second overarching theme was “A changing health and healthcare environment”. This theme also included several sub-themes—changing physical and mental health status and a changing healthcare environment encompassing quality of care and barriers to accessing healthcare. Migrants described physical and mental health concerns and connected these experiences with their new environment. These two overarching themes were prevalent across the dataset, although each participant experienced and expressed them uniquely. Conclusion: Migrants who move in the context of climate change face a range of diverse health risks at the origin, en route, and at the destination. Migrating individuals, households, and communities undertake a risk exchange when they decide to move, which has diverse positive and negative consequences for their health and wellbeing. Along with changing health determinants is a changing healthcare environment where migrants face different choices, barriers, and quality of care. A more migrant-centric perspective as described in this paper could strengthen migration, climate, and health governance. Policymakers, urban planners, city corporations, and health practitioners should integrate the risk exchange into practice and policies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Climate Change, Pesticides and Health: Considering the Risks and Opportunities of Adaptation for Zimbabwean Smallholder Cotton Growers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(1), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010121 - 26 Dec 2020
Viewed by 882
Abstract
There is potential for increased pesticide-related adverse health outcomes in the agricultural sector linked to adaptive increases in pesticide use necessitated, in part, by climate change-related increases in pest populations. To understand the role of adaptation practices in pesticide use and health risks, [...] Read more.
There is potential for increased pesticide-related adverse health outcomes in the agricultural sector linked to adaptive increases in pesticide use necessitated, in part, by climate change-related increases in pest populations. To understand the role of adaptation practices in pesticide use and health risks, this study assessed Zimbabwean smallholder cotton farmers’ adaptive responses linked to their climate change perceptions. In depth interviews were conducted with 50 farmers who had been growing cotton for at least 30 years. The study identified farmers’ adaptation practices that increased their pesticide use, as well as those that presented opportunities for reducing pesticide use through non-pesticide-dependent adaptation pathways. The findings show that due to perceived climate change impacts, such as a shorter growing season, farmers were adopting a range of adaptive practices. These included changes in pest management practices, such as increasing pesticide spraying frequencies due to keeping ratoon crops, which were increasing farmers’ overall pesticide use. Such incremental adaptive practices are potentially maladaptive, as they may increase farmers’ pesticide-related health risks. Other practices, however, such as reducing cotton acreage and diversifying crops, resulting in transformational adaptation, suggest the existence of opportunities for decreasing overall pesticide use or totally eliminating pesticides from the farming system. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Health Status and Health Care Needs of Drought-Related Migrants in the Horn of Africa—A Qualitative Investigation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5917; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165917 - 14 Aug 2020
Viewed by 953
Abstract
Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, situated in the Horn of Africa, are highly vulnerable to climate change, which manifests itself through increasing temperatures, erratic rains and prolonged droughts. Millions of people have to flee from droughts or floods either as cross-border refugees or as [...] Read more.
Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, situated in the Horn of Africa, are highly vulnerable to climate change, which manifests itself through increasing temperatures, erratic rains and prolonged droughts. Millions of people have to flee from droughts or floods either as cross-border refugees or as internally displaced persons (IDPs). The aim of this study was to identify knowledge status and gaps regarding public health consequences of large-scale displacement in these countries. After a scoping review, we conducted qualitative in-depth interviews during 2018 with 39 stakeholders from different disciplines and agencies in these three countries. A validation workshop was held with a selection of 13 interviewees and four project partners. Malnutrition and a lack of vaccination of displaced people are well-known challenges, while mental health problems and gender-based violence (GBV) are less visible to stakeholders. In particular, the needs of IDPs are not well understood. The treatment of mental health and GBV is insufficient, and IDPs have inadequate access to essential health services in refugee camps. Needs assessment and program evaluations with a patients’ perspective are either lacking or inadequate in most situations. The Horn of Africa is facing chronic food insecurity, poor population health and mass displacement. IDPs are an underserved group, and mental health services are lacking. A development approach is necessary that moves beyond emergency responses to the building of long-term resilience, the provision of livelihood support and protection to reduce displacement by droughts. Full article
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