"For 15 years the debate on development and migration has taken place, and only in the past 5 years has it gained intensity. Missing in this debate is the voice of the Diaspora. And yet they have been contributing for years to development in homelands and this has been taken for granted because it has not been done in a structured way. It is very important to discuss and to have open dialogue to show what's possible", says Domenica Ghidei, Chair of the ADPC board. As financial remittances, for example, are a large part of the contribution that the Diaspora make to their homelands, the way these are spent can be much improved by: 1) engaging the Diaspora in development work and mainstream development agencies as development actors and 2) strategising and sharing experiences on how the contributions of the Diaspora could best add to policy dialogue on migration and development.

Migrant organisations can play a key role in the development field, but the barriers cannot be ignored. Some are very basic, and related to a lack of definition of what distinguishes the migrant organisation. Executive Director of AFFORD, Chukuw Chikezie asks "What do we (migrant organisations) need to do in order to be successful? Mainstream organisations require leadership and vision, their assets are their commitment, resources and technical capacity". In this sense, pooling the resources of migrant organisations and mainstream organisations will greatly increase the positive impact on the lives of the most marginalised. Liela Rispens-Noel of Oxfam-Novib agrees: "Failure of aid in Africa is not due to failure of development agencies, rather, it is because the actors involved in development are not coordinated, different actors have different views. The focus now is for the mainstream organisations to be enablers and give power back to the people".

The contribution of the Diaspora stretches high and low, and does not end with remittances. Migrants transfer knowledge, skills, ideas and alternate views to their homelands, yet the diversity of these assets is hardly recognised. Migrant organisations help to build businesses and create jobs in the homelands (e.g. Sankofa Family Poultry Project) and find creative means to improve the lives in Africa and at the same time bringing Africa to the European doorstep (e.g. Buna Bet). Dialogue and exchange between migrants, migrant organisations and mainstream organisations is vital to pool these untapped resources.



African Diaspora Policy Centre


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