Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, Cultural Geography, Germany
The debate on the relationship between environmental degradation, resulting crises in agriculture and migration is gaining relevance. While some have argued that climatic change and deteriorating ecosystems will produce a large number of environmentally motivated migrants, it has frequently been overlooked that, far from being an exception, mobile strategies are and have for a long time been present in the region, as a way to assure food security in the context of a precarious environmental equilibrium.
This paper addresses the issue of how agriculture and mobility are combined in contexts of vulnerability, while dedicating special attention to the relationship between agricultural crises and migration in rural areas of Senegal.
Basing on a multi-sited fieldwork in four villages in Senegal and in two migration destinations in Italy and Spain, this paper argues that both agriculture and mobility are part of a system of collective translocal livelihood strategies.
Through remittances, contacts with external actors and transfers of know-how, migrants not only ensure local food security, but also provide direct and indirect support for further activities, such as agriculture. Thus migration is not a way to escape from the home region, but a contribution to local income strategies, a way to permit further family and community members to remain in the village.
Agriculture concurrently maintains a primary role: it guarantees the covering of basic living expenses and ensures alternatives to returning migrants, such as those reentering from migration destinations affected by economic downturns.
In conclusion, this paper argues that migration and agriculture need to be addressed simultaneously, as part of broader and translocal collective strategies.
Keywords: Agriculture, livelihood strategies, migration, mobility, Senegal, translocal