Multilateral and bilateral approaches for leveraging migration for development
The world is on the move: international migrants currently amount to 214 million people (about 3% of the world’s population) according to the UN. That is why, in recent years, international migration has risen to the top of the global policy agenda, raising crucial (and still unresolved) issues ranging from the protection of the rights of migrant people to the fight against irregular immigration and human trafficking, from the ‘governance’ of migratory flows to circular migration schemes.
Specifically, migration flows between Africa and Europe testify to the close links between the two continents and became a major topic of discussion, since their better management would benefit Africa, the EU and migrants themselves.
Broadly, one of the issues that is currently monopolising the attention of both the academic community and policy-makers, is the so-called ‘Migration and Development’ nexus. The idea that international migration, building on the ‘transnational dimension’ of diaspora, i.e. on its peculiar double belonging to both the home and receiving country, could foster development, is increasingly at the forefront of the debate, becoming a cross-cutting issue encompassing different disciplines and approaches.
The fact that remittances have, in some cases, exceeded official development aid (Ratha, 2003) has strengthened the credibility of the diaspora as a ‘sui generis’ development agent. Nowadays, traditional development aid actors have acknowledged the developmental potential of international migrants and are more and more involved in designing innovative programmes, projects and partnerships to harness migrants’ resources and know-how.
These projects are characterised by a great diversity in aims, actors, patterns of funding, duration and effects, reflecting different priorities and needs of diaspora organisations, traditional development actors (national development cooperation agencies, NGOs, etc.), and sending and receiving communities.
For instance, the European Commission (EC) and the African Union Commission (AUC) launched an initiative that aims to support the Migration, Mobility and Employment Partnership (‘MME Partnership’). It provides an open framework for consultations on a flexible thematic and geographic basis, which serves to strengthen the leadership of the key stakeholders and the exchange of information and good practices.
The MME Partnership aims to provide comprehensive responses to the issues of Migration, Mobility and Employment, in the interest of all partners, with the particular objective of creating more and better jobs for Africa, and to better manage migration flows. A more effective management of migration and stimulation of employment are essential elements of strategies against poverty and other national development and co-development instruments in African countries. The benefits of international migration must be maximised for all partners. Plus, another objective of the partnership is to ensure sustainable development and the implementation of relevant international agreements and declarations such as the Tripoli Declaration on Migration and Development.
In practice, the MME Partnership positions itself on enhancing dialogue on all relevant topics, focusing in particular on the question of how to improve coherence and synergies between migration, mobility, employment, education policies and development/poverty reduction strategies. In fact, the MME Partnership’s implementing actions include, among others, a Support Project for Facilitation of the dialogue between the partners and:
- An “African Remittances Institute” which should provide for a better, more effective and safer remittances’ transfer system;
- The “Diaspora Outreach Initiative” will establish a cooperation framework to engage the Diaspora in the development of Africa;
- The “Decent Work Initiative” extending social protection coverage, in particular in the informal economy; and
- Access to finance and guarantees improvement for the poorest and undeserved.
These actions encompass an inter-regional and inter-continental dimension for the partnership.
African and European countries have continuously developed frameworks for cooperation through relevant projects and programmes, which foster benefits from migration flows.
Thus, the modus operandi of the Italian Cooperation in the “Migration and Development” sector privileges support to the development of the Private Sector, sustaining, thanks to the project “PLASEPRI” (Plateforme d’Appui Au Secteur Privé et à la Valorisation de la Diaspora Sénégalaise en Italie), the creation and run of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in Senegal and Ghana. The ideal recipient of the project is a Senegalese who immigrated to Italy and wishes to set up a SME. The PLASEPRI intends to cover the costs of equipment from 30.000.000,00 CFA francs* up to 300.000.000,00 CFA francs for SMEs operating in different fields: from sustainable tourism to woman entrepreneurship, from food industry to environment-friendly economic activities. This project embodies some of the priorities of the Italian approach to development cooperation: the empowerment of women, the promotion of SMEs (in line with the Italian tradition of a strong industrial sector characterised more by ‘micro-excellences’ than by big corporate groups), the fight against child exploitation (the selected project should employ, neither directly nor indirectly, child labour) and ‘green’ awareness and action.
The DFID (United Kingdom Department for International Development) and VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) project “Diaspora Volunteering Programme” is focused on the potential multiplying effect of volunteer work.
The programme provides £3 million over three years and aims to encourage people from diaspora communities to get involved in volunteering activities which enhance pro-poor growth in developing countries and raise development awareness in the UK. The ultimate goal of the programme is to establish creative partnerships with diaspora organisations (such as the “African Foundation for Development” and “Asian People’s Disability Alliance”) through activities such as research visits in targeted countries, fundraising training and awareness-raising activities. This last component is deemed to be pivotal in inspiring other volunteers from the diaspora to engage in volunteering activities and making a difference.
Other projects are more research-oriented, aimed at understanding how and under which conditions migration could actually spur development. An interesting experience in this field is the newly-created “Migrating out of Poverty Consortium”, led by the World Bank Senior Economist Dilip Ratha, and involving universities from the North and South in a common effort to study migration comprehensively through a development lens. The project, which is still in its initial phase, is innovative in its all-encompassing multidisciplinary approach (covering the overlapping fields of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, international relations and sociology) and through its strong southern engagement and focus.
French cooperation is traditionally engaged in projects involving both a migratory and a development dimension. The AFD (Agence Française de Développement) has recently conceived a CIT (“Cadre d’Intervention Transversale”) which is a type of ‘grand design’ which will allow for the mainstreaming of migration in AFD’s strategies by best taking into account - inter alia - the needs of migrant populations, the potential interactions between remittances on the one side and the development of private sector and local development on the other, the problem of brain-drain and rural-urban exodus. The originality of the AFD’s CIT lies in its all-encompassing approach to migration, taking into account the phenomenon in its totality, dealing with both the intra-regional and international dimension of migration. The CIT analyses in detail all the factors likely to interact with or engender migratory flows, e.g. climate change, conflict, urbanisation, economic factors, food security, etc., while offering a methodology to deal with ever-changing migratory dynamics.
Thus, the MME Partnership, and the selected sample of the four experiences described above, represent some of the different facets of the joint efforts of European and African countries to tackle, with different instruments at different levels, the ‘migration and development’ nexus. The fundamental goal of these concerted efforts is to acknowledge the challenges posed by migratory phenomena while harnessing their positive contribution to the development of sending and receiving communities.