Friday, 20 July 2007

Diaspora role ‘critical’ to development

he growing strategic role of diaspora communities in global development was the headline theme when representatives of 15 UK-based diaspora organisations met to explore their understandings of ‘development’ and ask how they can do more to boost development work in their countries of origin.

The workshops in April and May were organised by Connections for Development (CfD), a network of black and minority ethnic individuals and organisations working to ensure that diaspora civil society plays a full role in international development, and supported by VSO.

“The diaspora’s role is critical,” argues Alache Ode, VSO’s diaspora development worker, a lecturer on development at University of London’s Birkbeck College, and one of the facilitators of CfD’s workshops. “And it would be even greater if the diaspora themselves grasped its significance.”

Much current interest has centred on remittances – the money sent home by migrant workers. In some countries, this is a larger sum than that received in official development assistance. In Bangladesh, for example, workers’ remittances in 2005 were estimated at $2.2 billion, almost double the $1.4 billion in international aid in the same year. In Kenya, migrant workers remitted some $464 million in 2004 – not far below the level of international aid ($635 million) received in the same year. [Read more]

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