Migration as one of several adaptation strategies for environmental limitations in Tunisia: evidence from El Faouar
Comparative Migration Studies, volume 8, Article number: 8 (2020)
Water scarcity and management of this problem are increasingly acknowledged in development policies as well as in adaptation and migration discourse. In South Mediterranean countries, insufficient water supplies in oases are the biggest limitation on yields of sufficient quantity and quality and increase in arable land, in short, the development of agriculture. Insufficient income from agriculture, when it is the main source of revenue, can push people to migrate. However, migration does not have to be the measure of last resort. Proper adaption to this limitation, including proactive migration, can reduce forced movements from this region in the future. The main aim of this paper is to identify and analyse household strategies, including migration, to cope with and adapt to the impact of environmental changes and limitations on agricultural development in the South Mediterranean. This paper is based on field research carried out in the El Faouar oasis area in Tunisia using a mixed-method approach. The results show that the inhabitants of El Faouar must cope with unforeseen crop destruction limiting their daily expenses by selling livestock or, in years of drought, migrating to look for additional sources of income. The results also show that local households try to increase their resistance to climate change, environmental limitations, and permanent migration by developing their agricultural capacity, provided they have additional resources from such endeavours as work outside El Faouar or remittances. Moreover, migration has become part of a wider process of socio-economic transformation in which people leave in order to cope with or adapt to environmental changes.