Nearly 1 billion people are on the move in Asia, and the impact on rural economies is unprecedented. Economic liberalization and rising costs of living in rural areas, combined with climate stress and other ecological pressures, are making agricultural based livelihoods increasingly less viable. Men are migrating from rural areas in search of better employment and opportunity. However, there are far-reaching consequences of male out-migration on the families and places they leave behind.

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Despite the exponential increase in migration, agriculture often remains critical for non-migrant household members, and is often part of a dual livelihood strategy. Although migration brings home remittances, a migrant worker’s income is seldom sufficient to lift a family out of poverty. Sporadic remittances, and increasingly fragile livelihoods at home, mean that farming remains important for supporting livelihoods.

Migration is changing the face of families and farms. When men migrate, women are left to deal with increased workload and responsibilities, but without equal or direct access to financial, social, and technological resources. Left in charge of households, women are expected to continue to perform their traditional roles as well as take on men’s responsibilities. There is usually an increased workload for women but limited access to capital and resources. Women are often limited in power and access to invest in agriculture.

IWMI recognizes that migration impacts agriculture, gender roles and water and land investments. IWMI’s research seeks to better understand the impact of migration on livelihoods, rural development, and water resources.