The aim of MigSoKo is to disentangle the relationships between ecosystem change, population pressure, human migration, and environmental impacts of migration. To achieve this we integrate place-based qualitative and quantitative research in two study regions in Ethiopia with simulation modelling and meta-analytical approaches.

Our first results indicate that migration – as observed in the highly degraded Ethiopian highlands – is not the last resort of the poorest of the poor but rather an adaptation measure that requires resources, such as social networks and financial assets (Groth et al., 2020). Besides, migration seems to be far less relevant for subsistence farmers and pastoralists than is often assumed. Based on an analysis covering approximately 10,000 households in Sub-Saharan African drylands we could show that strategies related to crop, livestock, soil and water management are, by far, the most common to address the impacts of environmental change. Some sort of migration is applied by approximately one out of four households included in our analysis (Wiederkehr et al., 2018). Together, these findings contribute to a picture of migration being a relevant strategy to deal with environmental changes. However, our findings are in stark contrast to the dire predictions of mass movements from the southern to the northern hemisphere fuelled by climate change.

With respect to method development, our results reveal (partly untapped) potentials of innovative approaches, including integrating the concept of nature’s contributions to people (NCP) with migration theory, qualitative comparative approaches, Bayesian Networks and human decision modelling for improving our understanding of the environment-migration nexus (Groth et al. 2020, Hermans & Ide, 2019, Thober et al., 2018, Wiederkehr et al., 2019).


Groth, Sakdapolrak, Ide, Kassa and Hermans (accepted) Deciphering interwoven drivers of environment-related migration – A multisite case study from the Ethiopian highlands. Global Environmental Change.

Hermans and Ide (2019) Advancing research on climate change, conflict and migration. Die Erde.

Thober, Schwarz, Hermans (2018) Agent-based modeling of environment-migration linkages: a review. Ecology and Society.

Wiederkehr, Beckmann and Hermans (2018) Environmental change, adaptation strategies and the relevance of migration in Sub-Saharan drylands. Environmental Research Letters.

Wiederkehr, Schröter, Adams, Seppelt and Hermans (2019) How does nature contribute to human mobility? A conceptual framework and qualitative analysis. Ecology and Society.