1st Edition

Migration and Environmental Change in the West African Sahel Why Capabilities and Aspirations Matter

By Victoria van der Land Copyright 2018
    148 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    148 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The West African Sahel is predicted to be heavily affected by climate change in the future. Slow-onset environmental changes, such as increasing rainfall variability and rising temperature, are presumed to worsen the livelihood conditions and to increase the out-migration from the affected regions.

    Based on qualitative and quantitative data from study areas in Mali and Senegal, this book examines the relationship between population dynamics, livelihoods and environment in the Sahel region, focussing specifically on motives for migration. Critiquing the assumption that environmental stress is the dominating migration driver, the author demonstrates the important role of individual aspirations and social processes, such as educational opportunities and the pull of urban lifestyles. In doing so, the book provides a more nuanced picture of the environment-migration nexus, arguing that slow-onset environmental changes may actually be less important as drivers of migration in the Sahel than they are often depicted in the media and climate change literature.

    This is a valuable resource for academics and students of environmental sociology, migration and development studies.

    1. Introduction: Climate change, environment and migration
    2. Livelihoods, environmental stress and mobility in Mali and Senegal
    3. Theoretical perspectives on the environment-migration nexus
    4. The role of environmental factors in shaping migration
    5. The migration decision: capabilities matter
    6. Aspirations for a better life
    7. Social transformation and its impact on the effects of of climate change on migration
    8. A migrant typology
    9. Migration in the "global North" and the "global South"
    10. Conclusion and outlook: Rethinking migration and environmental change in the West African Sahel


    Victoria van der Land is a sociologist with a research focus on climate change and migration. She has extensive work and field experience in West African countries, such as Benin, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. Currently, she works as a DAAD lecturer at the University of Bamako, Mali.