Why Involving Migrants in Development Cooperation?

  • January 2, 2014
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Drawing upon the valuable lessons of the development polices implementation, this flagship document of NINE strengths for empowering Diaspora in the co-development programmes. We use the demand-driven approach to review and conseptualise the partnership models of international cooperation towards the active involvement of the Diaspora/migrants organisations and their members in the process of social and economic breakthrough in the low/middle-income rate countries.

 Author: SDI

We follow the result-driven approach and outline the nine demands capitalising on the positive, coherent and active initiatives of Diaspora/migrants and donors’ stakeholders.


Why Involving Migrants in Development Cooperation?


  1. The global development is based on the mobility and sharing knowledge, advancing the human capital through various forms of innovation. It is taken in full respect the inter-dependence of the so-called North societies and the Global South.
  2. Migration is a historical phenomenon, a powerful engine for social and trading habits changes, reformulating the needs of communities, opening new opportunities for the knowledge and innovations in donors’ countries and triggering quality of life in the Global South.
  3. Human capacities are recognised as the most powerful mean for change by challenging the continuous problems of economic growth and persistent poverty as well as humiliated human, social, labour and gender rights in the Global South.
  4. People in mobility from the Global South are considered part of the economic growth of the North. The EU MS are struggling for diverse qualified capacities and competing for the latter along with the strong economies of Asia, U.S.A, Australia, and Canada.
  5. Migrants are mediators of the international development cooperation policies. Experts amongst migrants are valuable for better formulating of ODA policies.
  6. Diaspora organisations are excellent communicators for “facilitating” the dialogue with the Governments and Parliaments from the Global South. Involving migrants in the process of negotiating a joint programming, a “country led” and “locally owned “partnership arrangement”.
  7. The umbrella associations of migrants are valuable for the bilateral and multilateral approach to development cooperation, and, by this we mean the long-term agreements of cooperation based on the economic and inter-culture diplomacy. Use the Diaspora skills, strengths and experiences in the negotiations with development actors from the EU for development of investment initiatives.


NINTH Demands


First Demand: Reformulate the Relations between the Diaspora/Migrants and EU Organisations Engaged in Development Cooperation.


We promote the acceptance of Diaspora and Migrants by the NGOs  most  respected amongst the political stakeholders of the development cooperation. Most important is to introduce the migrants/Diaspora to the decision-making processes on the EU level through already existing structures of citizens ‘participation. By this we mean, the migrants get involved in the expertise “task force” groups of the respective umbrella associations forwarding the development policies requests/requirements to the politicians.


Formulate Diaspora engagement on inter-ministerial level. It’s worth mentioning the importance of mainstreaming the migrants/Diaspora capacities as potentials for joined-up engagement in the international development, combining aid, diplomacy, military power and economic tools such as trade policy. The Governments, the inter-ministerial development cooperation gatherings of the MFA ministers could initiate mechanisms for the migrants’ involvement as an adequate approach for optimisation of the enormous administrative costs spent by the EU on development aid. An emphasis could be placed on the creation of partnerships with the Migrant leaders/Diasporas in the decision-making processes, working together for better planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policies impact on the countries of origin.


Involve diaspora organisations in the ODA programming of the EU MS, invite them become part of the working groups and evaluation committees and other bodies related to international development cooperation.


Ensure mainstreaming of knowledge about the impact of the donors’ policies on the recipient countries by defining the coherences between migration and development and demonstrating synergies and cost-effectiveness of PCD, proposing adequate instruments, mandate institutions with the implementation of PCD. It is of great importance to strengthen the cross-governmental approach for networking among all ministries/departments/agencies involved.


Develop meaningful tools related to the remittances and development aid in reaction of the increasing global challenges such as climate change, peace and stability, migration, financial stability, food security and communicable diseases. Use the existing directive on remittances. Making the migrants and Diaspora an active generator of the cooperation linked to the remittances-based financial schemes.


Reformulating and making the EU Common Agricultural Policy inclusive for the African agricultural exports for the European marketplace.







Second Demand: If aid is not about helping the poorest then it is not worthy of the name. Bureaucracy vs. effective aid.


Restructuring the ODA schemes for the purpose of aid-effectiveness and migrants-driven opportunities is considered a challenge for making the difference in the poorest countries. By this we mean making the grant-driven schemes accessible for the small, hence, trustful migrants’ organisations. This is considered a powerful tool for attracting new actors into the main two EU broad priorities: (a) human rights, democracy and good governance, linked to greater conditionality; and (b) inclusive and sustainable economic growth, with a strong focus on leveraging in private sector money;


Demonstrating better knowledge on the needs of aid-recipient countries. Accepting the migrants mediate the bilateral communication with the Parliaments and ministries from the Global South. Mitigating the negative impact of security and safety issues, ensuring economic growth and human dignity. Purposefully the EU MS shall be strengthening co-development actions on priorities based on their traditional and well-established international networking. A main principle for prioritising of the aid shall be the real connections in the social and economic exchange of capital with the recipient countries, the geo-political position and current issues arisen due to the global mobility. The governments, MPs and policy-makers shall challenge various phenomena such as exploitation of human beings, internationalisation of the labour market and economies, security issues and etc., as a linkage to the co-development impact.


Help the poorest gain incomes. Involving the migrants in the process of differentiation of the partnerships (increasing the aid to low-rate income countries and reducing the number of aid recipients in middle-rate income countries). This however could lead to a step ahead and open the doors for advise/consultations provided by the migrant experts and competent Diaspora organisations that could be also active in the political dialogue for PCD (migration, environment, agriculture, trade and financial policies of EU MS impacting the aid-recipients countries development).




Third Demand: Move from project to process-driven financial schemes and from charity to base and income-growth approach.


Donors shall adopt a change in the model of funding distribution by shifting from on a project-base granting to a process-driven approach focused on the addressed support to proved, selected and well-negotiated initiatives with the active involvement of the politicians, leaders migrants and decision-makers from the recipient communities/countries.

Ensuring that charity is replaced by a Human-Rights-based Approach for enabling the long-term programmes and active participation of all stakeholders. Migrants shall be given opportunities for promoting the advantages and potentials of their countries. Its worth mentioning that migrants shall be acting as ambassadors of their countries in order to be countering the “hidden exploitation of human unhappiness” through charity collections pinpointing the dangerous, miserable and negative pictures of the Global South. The positive image shall be however also balanced and true, and the poverty shall be presented through solution-driven concepts rather than a tool for gaining funds for charity projects.

Fourth Demand: Promote innovative funding and financial tools.


Initiate the discussion on how to trigger complementary co-financing through accumulating welfare funds from the pension and social security systems in the EU MS.  Initiating the dialogue between the employers of migrants and the national governments on how to capitalise on the payments to the social system, respectively the state charges that cannot be used by migrants once they are dismissed from work. Elaborating on how to convert the social security provisions into back-up funding for co-development projects.

Channel savings into productive investments ensure seed money/access to credits and provide migrants with a minimum return on their savings, promote remittance-backed loans, mortgages and business credits.

Fundraising initiatives based on communication with the banks. Promote financial inclusion of migrants by giving access to the banking system for migrant entrepreneurs who are receiving/collecting remittances (creation of bank account, credit history, etc.) and investing in the aid-recipient countries. Facilitate and reduce the costs of remittances through special rates of financial transactions.

By accepting the private financial institutions in the EU MS as development actors, their role shall be actively linked to the involvement of migrants in attracting and retaining private domestic and foreign investment and levering the private sector to deliver public goods;

Pooling finances, asking the private financial sector for corporate social responsible initiatives on development cooperation. For that purpose, we propose the EU MS Governments to introduce mechanisms for establishing Diaspora/migrants funds, PPP schemes between the financial institutions and state ODA authorities. This should lead to the development of more inclusive funding schemes based on the support of private initiative rather than one-off projects of NGOs ensuring no continuity at all.

Promoting the participation of migrant leaders and Diaspora organisations in the process of mediating favourable business environments and promoting EU MS business initiatives in the field of environment, IT, food processing, light industry, agricultural, industrial and innovation sectors.

Prioritising funding opportunities based on the active participation of migrants and diaspora organisations acting as guarantees for the sustainability of financial investments.

Pooling donors’ finances on priorities initiatives. Call on the ministries and private donors for a closer cooperation in the process of pooling funding for the income growth.


Fifth Demand: Growth-thorough models engaging both Diaspora and EU MS researchers and economic entities.


Introduce effective co-financing schemes of ODA programmes in support of the entrepreneurs, SMEs, start-ups, job diversification, notably the small investments/income-generation/social firms. These schemes shall be stressing on the involvement of Diaspora.

Spur business initiatives through migrants: Strengthen the SME potentials by increasing the long-term strategic alliances between the Diaspora-connected entities focused on the special needs, strengths and weaknesses of women and vulnerable groups.

Ask the national development platforms and the EU-political platforms to promote the networking among all development stakeholders and migrant involved in the entrepreneurship schemes.

Request the experienced NGDO support projects based on the skills of migrants in setting up SMEs in aid-recipient countries. Purposely identify the specific needs, weaknesses and strengths of the women and vulnerable groups. Ask the development actors incorporate in their projects and initiatives more activities centered on bringing together the local entrepreneurs, business owners, and government officials with the Diaspora counterparts for community investments.


Sixth Demand: Modernise the “traditional” way of promoting development cooperation. Make politicians generate their political agenda on the positive advantages of the global mobility and development cooperation.


Promoting Diaspora and migrants. Regularly discuss with development actors, science institutions, schools, and local authorities how to acknowledge the development potential of Diaspora and their social remittances (intercultural, social and language competencies) acquired through migration. Advancing the positive-advantages: involvement in bilateral economic schemes, twinning projects, helping EU MS economic entities open to new markets, triggering jobs and etc.

Change the rules for accessing funding in order to enable Diaspora and leaders migrants take part into the distribution of funding based on the results-driven conditions. Initiate financial mechanisms involving migrants in already running initiatives or enabling them promote their own.

Apply the result-driven conditions and decrease of the administrative costs for the EU NGOs initiatives.

Calling the national funds on funding priorities aimed to promote the coherence between migrants’ integration, indigenous culture and development initiatives. Introduce migration policies that further Diaspora knowledge through the engagement and “brain circulation” instead of restrictive migration policies initiating a plethora of criminal actions and being a hamper for the EU security and safety of EU citizens vulnerable.

Enable online pooling knowledge and information on migrants and Diaspora. Asking the national NGDO platforms or umbrella policy stakeholders such as CONCORD, TRIALOG for promoting the online partners of migrant background, maintaining and up-dating these platforms, pooling information. It could be considered part of the main operational activities of these umbrella organisations.

Seventh Demand: Ensure the aid goes to the poor. Introduce transparent system for assessing the real and sustainable impact of the financed initiatives.


Duly introduce effective, innovative and easily applicable online monitoring and evaluation tools by the Europe Aid administration, as well as gender assessment tools, ensuring that each program is monitored periodically, especially the multiyear ones or complex programs. Systematically conduct assessment of statistics provided and focus particularly on the antipoverty impact, apply gender indicators.


Allocating funding due to the country needs and formulate proper indicators sensitive to: the fragility and vulnerability; the ability to generate domestic resources and other finance; the level of investment in education, health and social protections as well the progress on democracy and good governance; and the potential impact the EU funding would have especially on political reform and on private sector investment.


Strengthen the PCD approach by improving the monitoring and evaluation. Assessing the impact of donors’ policies on aid-receiving countries, especially on migration, environment, agriculture, trade and financial policies. Introducing measurable indicators as part of the assessment of the sustainable impact of the initiatives/projects or etc.


Eighth Demand: Promote the positive advantages of the migrants and development cooperation in host communities.


Introduce development aid in the regional/local development planning process in donors’ countries. Involve migrants in the national/regional/local development planning, policy making, enhance the participation of the poor in political decision-making and increase awareness of politicians on issues of co-development, migration and food and energy security.

Potentials of the two-way “win-win” process. Recognising the cooperation with migrants and their countries of origin as a powerful engine for triggering economic growth in aid-recipient countries and enhancing the potentials of the EU SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, (local) authorities and other in gaining knowledge, enhancing the economic and inter-culture diplomacy on national and regional level.

Encourage the national NGO platforms; trade unions, industrial association, chambers of commerce and self-governments associations initiate more active cooperation with the migrant leaders and Diaspora organisations.

The competent stakeholders (MFA, NGOs, Universities, experts, etc.) could better promote the co-development policies among the enterprises, local authorities, training institutions and the migrants ‘ associations. The competent actors shall ensure that public authorities (development agencies and relevant ministries) take a lead in building up linkages between the private, public and non-government sector.

Promote development aid and migrants inclusive index for EU MS self-governments and economic entities/investors. On local level, the development cooperation, migrants integration and intercultural modes of media content can be stimulated by boosting the “development-with-migrants”. However the self-governments that acknowledge the social and economic capital of migrants and strengthen the co-development projects in aid-recipient countries, can be financially stimulated.

The local authorities/agencies can be working with migrants for exploring the development potential of twinning partnerships of municipalities in the countries of origin and destination.



Ninth Demand: Economic Diplomacy is in Place.


Involve the industrial, trade, employers and business-oriented agencies and their trans-national networks and regional development agencies in the co-development via the migrant leaders and Diaspora organisations who could guide them in choosing proper initiatives for cooperation and investment in the aid-recipient countries. Ensure that funding of initiatives affecting women and most vulnerable groups is prioritised amongst the economic actors.

Mobilise the Diaspora organisations to act as intermediaries between governments in aid-recipient and donor countries for the implementation of investment policies such as tax exemptions and deductions on diaspora/development cooperation-related investments.

Organise business events for the Diaspora members (EU MS ministries of economy, investment promotion agencies, diplomatic bodies, international networks of chambers of commerce), introduce educational trips, and facilitate online virtual communities of members worldwide. Enhance cooperation between the economic/trade platforms/chambers, Diaspora/migrants experts and business leaders who can advise the local entrepreneurs on how to establish and manage successful business and penetrate the global market, and introduce them to other business partners.

Create international networks of top business leaders who are able to create and deploy a potentially influential resource for development and offer advice to entrepreneurs, company owner, and ministries.

Initiate communication with the aid-recipient industrial associations via online tools for promoting investment opportunities and information on how to obtain business loans, counselling services and local investment projects (the information shall be based on the communication between migrants and their countries of origin).

Spur development in specific geographic regions through business forums, joint-business promotion events and quick business meetings with a particular focus on women’s and vulnerable group’s business opportunities and required skills.