Amit TUBI, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Yael ISRAELI, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
The role of migration as a climate change adaptation strategy is receiving increasing attention. Studies examining the migration-adaptation nexus analyze various dimensions of adaptive capacity and vulnerability to evaluate migration outcomes – both adaptive and maladaptive. However, this body of research has largely failed to consider how migration outcomes are viewed by those who migrate. This constitutes a major lacuna because migration decisions are often based on a range of objectives linked with migrants’ and households’ realities and desirable futures. To address this gap, this study focuses on the case of drought-influenced migration from marginalized agro-pastoralist northern Kenya to the City of Nairobi. Applying a thematic analysis based on semi-structured interviews with 38 long-term migrants, we examine how migrants perceive ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in the context of migration as a response to the impacts of drought.
The results show that migrants’ perception of success focuses heavily on the improvement of their families’ economic security, namely fulfilling their basic needs, supporting children’s education, and reconstructing households’ livelihood sources – by either rebuilding livestock and/or developing climate-insensitive income sources. A similar theme pertaining to migrants’ inability to achieve these objectives is identified with respect to failure. However, a second predominant theme emphasizes self-failure, mainly as cultural assimilation in Nairobi. As these findings show, perceptions of success and failure are mediated by culture and encompass diverse adaptation-related objectives, intertwined with migrants’ broader concerns and aspirations. As such objectives and aspirations may fundamentally reshape migrants’ and households’ vulnerability trajectories, incorporating them in adaptation policies is essential if we are to maximize migration’s adaptive effects and minimize its maladaptive ones.