Project structure

This project is inductive in the sense that I didn’t know what to expect when I started. So the first step was to collect data through a survey that gave information about people in the area. What they were working with, if they were doing agriculture, their struggles in life, the environmental problems they were facing and if they had migrated in the past 10 years. The results of this survey gave a lot of information about 51 of the villages and the four main cities in Duhok.

The findings in this data collection were published in the first paper, Migration Patterns in Duhok Governorate, Iraq, 2000-2010 and  gave me some ideas of how I should proceed in my research. The following conclusions were made:

  • Economy has been the main driver of migration during 2000-2010
  • There is a trend of household migration from urban to rural areas
  • Environmental problems were rarely reported as a reason for migration

As this project was initially focused on environment as a driver for migration, I wanted to look into the dynamics of a recent drought (2007-2009) that had been reported to induce migration to cities in the region. The low reporting of drought could actually just mean that people did not perceive themselves to be migrating due to drought, but rather economy. The second paper (now under review) therefore set out to spatially and temporally assess the drought by looking at vegetation conditions and anomalies, and then comparing these data with data on migration and perceived environmental problems, such as drought. The results of this research is not yet published, but the findings, that have been presented at seminars and conferences, indicate no strong evidence for drought related migration in the Duhok governorate.

Realizing that there are many different methods for assessing the relationship between drought and migration, and that the properties of the data can be a limiting factor, a discussion of scale issues was started. At what temporal and spatial level should the analysis be done? Village? Municipality? District? What level of detail did my data allow for, and what were the consequences for choosing to work a an administrative unit level, rather than other units? These questions led to further questions about what scale other researchers were focusing on, and if they were considering scale issues as a limitation? These questions have now turned into a draft for a review paper, co-authored together with researchers from the micle project.

Another interesting finding from the first paper was the trend of migration from cities to villages. Why was this happening? Who were the migrants? And did this mean a revival of the rural areas? To answer these questions I had to learn more about the history of the area (e.g. the Anfal genocide, sanctions, oil-for-food program), but also I had to go back and ask these questions, to get more detailed information, and to be able to ask follow-up questions. In April 2013, I did a second field work with focused interviews in six villages that had received a large part of the urban to rural migration. Learning more about this, and also hearing about the Government plans for developing agriculture in the Kurdish Region at the World Kurdish Congress 2012, I wondered what changes had happened in land use in the past 10 years, if any at all. Currently, this analysis is being undertaken.

These topics will hopefully all turn into academic papers that I will put into my dissertation. More information about them will be published here once progress on research or Journal publication has been made.

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