Migration and Self-Protection Against Climate Change: A Case Study of Samburu County, Kenya

Stanley Ng'ang'a, Erwin H. Bulte, Ken E. Giller, John M. McIntire, Mariana C. Rufino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change will affect the livelihoods of pastoralists in arid and semi-arid lands. Using data on agro-pastoral households from northern Kenya, we explore whether migration of household members enhances adoption of agricultural innovations that aim to provide protection against weather shocks. Specifically, we seek to test whether migration and adaptation are complementary mechanisms to protect the household against adverse shocks, or whether they are substitutes. Do remittances relax capital constraints and facilitate the uptake of adaptive measures, or do they render adaptation superfluous? Our data provide suggestive evidence that remittances from migrant household members may relax capital constraints, and that remittances are an important mechanism linking migration to adoption, enabling the uptake of new technologies that involve change in activities or high costs. Specifically, migrant households adopt more adaptive measures (promoting self-protection), and we document some support for the hypothesis that this is especially the case for high-cost adaptations such as the purchasing of drought tolerant livestock. These findings suggest that migration and local innovation are complementary rather than substitutive mechanisms of self-protection for pastoral households in the semi-arid lands of northern Kenya. Households who have at least one member who has migrated are able to overcome barriers to employ high-cost agricultural innovations-through using remittances received-thus enhancing their self-protection against climate change related shocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-68
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Insurance
  • Migration
  • Remittance


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