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New Handbook on Diaspora Engagement Provides Road Map for Leveraging the Role of Immigrants in Development Efforts Worldwide
Press Release
Friday, April 27, 2012

New Handbook on Diaspora Engagement Provides Road Map for Leveraging the Role of Immigrants in Development Efforts Worldwide

WASHINGTON — Beyond the more than $400 billion in remittances transferred in 2010, diaspora members fulfill a key development role in their countries of origin – as major direct investors in critical and emerging industries, generous philanthropists and first movers in the growth of important sectors such as tourism and in the development of human capital.

Governments at both ends of the migration cycle increasingly recognize the value that diaspora populations bring to development efforts and are seeking ways to magnify the human capital and financial resources that emigrants and their descendants contribute to development in their countries of origin.

A new handbook released today, Developing a Road Map for Engaging Diasporas in Development, authored by Migration Policy Institute (MPI) migration and development experts Kathleen Newland and Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias (who is also a research officer with the International Organization for Migration) offers practical advice to policymakers and practitioners and details the wide range of institutions that governments worldwide have established to work with diasporas.

The user-friendly guide, a project of MPI and IOM, offers a strategic road map for governments to build a constructive relationship with diasporas and examines the success and failure of policies, programs and initiatives undertaken to date. The handbook is based on in-depth interviews and consultations with government officials and non-governmental actors, and includes responses by 62 national governments to a two-part survey designed and administered for this project.

“The power and potential of diasporas are clear and go well beyond their role as senders of remittances. Many governments in both sending and receiving countries now realize that they could accomplish much more if they establish productive partnerships with diaspora communities,” said Newland, who directs MPI’s Migrants, Migration and Development program. “The handbook presents a carefully selected menu of viable policy and program options based on actual experiences from around the world, aiming to highlight good practices, challenges, lessons learned and promising cases that can be adapted to local contexts.”

The diaspora handbook’s first five chapters focus on capacity building, the importance of rigorous monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs, the legal and institutional frameworks established to facilitate diaspora engagement and the legislative and regulatory frameworks by which diasporas engage with their countries of origin. The final six chapters examine the key areas in which diaspora members have played positive development roles: remittances, direct investment, human capital transfer, philanthropy, capital market investment and tourism – offering lessons and policy options for each.

The work builds upon diaspora engagement studies that MPI has engaged in for the better part of a decade, as well as the ongoing discussions that have taken place since 2007 at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). For more on MPI’s research on diaspora engagement, visit: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/migration_development.php. To learn about GFMD, visit: http://gfmd.org/en/.

The diaspora handbook is available for free download or purchase hard copies may be purchased here.


The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org.