Case Study #1: Harnessing the local rural development potential of migration
This case study forms part of a series of case studies on good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations extracted from the projects supported by the UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) to enhance migration management for local development. The experience of the JMDI shows that the most effective initiatives are anchored with local or regional authorities and carried out in a multi-stakeholder and participatory approach, including migrants and migrants’ associations or diaspora. This is increasingly important given global trends of increasing decentralization and urbanization with urban areas being the destination of choice for most migrants and displaced persons. Thus the series aims to provide local actors with tools and ideas to take on this role as many can lack the means, human and financial resources, know-how or necessary support to tap into the local development potential of migration.
This case study provides insight into how migration and the capitals migrants possess can be harnessed to promote rural local development through homestay tourism services provided by migrants’ families and supported by the diaspora. Oftentimes, migration is a direct result of the local conditions migrants live in, including poor infrastructure, lack of access to services (health, education, employment) and limited livelihood opportunities. Indeed, in many countries, under-development can result in in large-scale migration (from rural to urban areas as well as internationally) in search of better living conditions and increased employment prospects. Rapidly increasing rural to urban or international migration can pose severe development challenges, such as the absence of an active workforce (between ages of 15-49 years) who have migrated, creating a dependency on remittances of the elderly and dependent persons (children) to meet their basic needs. Therefore, viable income generation opportunities within communities of origin, which also promote rural development, are essential to mitigate this as well as overall development. To do this well, an ‘all-of community’ approach is essential to ensure that development efforts have positive outcomes for the entire community and are not restricted to migrants’ families. Given that business creation and support is usually a competency of local authorities due to the grass roots nature of entrepreneurship, together with the fact that diaspora associations an provide transnational linkages between territories, it is local actors that are best placed to link up these two processes and ensure that homestay business development has an integral approach that benefits the entire community. Moreover, given the local-to-local dimension of migration, whereby migrants tend to move from the same territory of origin and settle in the same territory of destination, diaspora members and diaspora associations that launch development initiatives or businesses tend to prefer to do this for their communities of origin, where the results of their efforts will be more visible and where their families and friends will benefit directly. Finally, diaspora members can bring much needed knowledge, human and financial resources and link businesses back home with their host territories for business growth and internationalization.