Adaptation as by-product: migration and environmental change in Nguith, Senegal

Clemens Romankiewicz, Martin Doevenspeck, Martin Brandt, Cyrus Samimi


In the debate about the nexus between environmental change, climate and migration much attention has been given to a changing climate as a push factor for migration. A more recent strand of academic work focuses on migration as a means to enhance adaptation capacities and resilience. This article questions these intentional attributions and starts from the observation that migration is occurring regardless of environmental or climatic change and connects people and places through shared social and cultural identities and the flow of ideas and resources. Drawing on a case study of Nguith, a village in the Senegalese Sahel with a long and complex migration history, it is shown how migration and material and non-material remittances have led (in a way accidentally) to an increased independence from local agro-ecological conditions. Therefore, we investigate the social, cultural and historical background of the people of Nguith with regard to their mobility and trace the continents-traversing migration network and connected translocal spaces. Finally, we explain the cohesive forces of this community that perpetuate and reinforce migration and show the effects of migration on everyday life, economic development in the village and resulting land-use change.


Migration, environmental change, adaptation, translocal migration network, Senegal

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