Mainstreaming migration for poverty reduction –in diverse country contexts

29 Sep 2017 by Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery

 The number of migrants today is massive. Globally, there are 244 million people on the move, with over 65 million forcibly displaced mainly by conflicts and, on average, 22 million annually displaced by climate change, disasters and environmental degradation. Photo: UNHCR
I recently visited a number of countries on a monitoring mission for the joint IOM-UNDP Global Project on Mainstreaming Migration in National Development Strategies. Funded by Switzerland, this project is implemented in eight countries (Bangladesh, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Morocco, Serbia and Tunisia) and provides some successful examples of how migration and development intertwine. As a development organization, our role is to ensure that development issues such as governance, economic opportunities, conflict prevention, climate change adaptation, environmental management are embedded in the short, medium and long term support provided to migrants, displaced people, refugees and their host communities. The number of migrants today is massive. Globally, there are 244 million people on the move, with over 65 million forcibly displaced mainly by conflicts and, on average, 22 million annually displaced by climate change, disasters and environmental degradation. The movement of people takes place worldwide. For example, every year, about 500,000 Bangladeshis leave their country to work abroad. Over 1.3 million Jamaicans live in the USA, Canada and the UK. Their remittances contribute over 16 percent of Jamaica’s GDP, according to the Caribbean Policy Research Institute. … Read more

Africa’s defining challenge

07 Aug 2017 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to more than double. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP DRC
Africa has the youngest population in the world, and it’s growing fast. By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double (PDF) the 2015 total of 226 million. Yet the continent remains stubbornly inhospitable – politically, economically, and socially – to young people. The success of African governments’ efforts to address this will be the single most important factor determining whether the continent prospers or suffers in the coming decades. A business-as-usual approach would risk exposing Africa not only to economic underperformance and a brain drain, but also to criminality, political and social unrest, and even armed conflict. But Africa can thrive if its governments act now to tap the energy and dynamism of the burgeoning youth population. What is needed is a comprehensive policy agenda, comprising demographically informed measures that address political, cultural, and economic exclusion in a synchronized manner. … Read more

7 things we learned in the Western Balkans about tackling displacement

20 Jun 2017 by Susanna Dakash, Youth and Civic Engagement Consultant, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

In the Western Balkans and elsewhere, the refugee crisis is a wake-up call for local governments to better prepare for sudden crises. UNDP photo
In 2015, 900,000 refugees and migrants crossed through Southeast Europe in the largest displacement of people since World War II. Many crossed from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia on their way to northern Europe. Most towns on that route were taken by surprise. Many didn’t have the doctors, food stocks, waste capacity, or sufficient housing to handle hundreds of thousands of additional people. Their whole approach to planning was suddenly upended. And many refugees ended up staying for months. … Read more

Land degradation and migration: Will restoring the land keep people at home?

16 Jun 2017 by Phemo Kgomotso, Regional Technical Specialist, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.

People living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Would forced migration end, if people knew that they could thrive and survive in their homeland? The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) asks this pertinent question as we observe World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June, focused on examining the important link between land degradation and migration. A childhood memory that has stayed with me is from 1992, when Botswana, along with many other countries in southern Africa were hit by what the New York Times called 'the worst drought of the 20th Century'. … Read more

Lessons from a year of post-ISIL stabilization in Iraq

07 Mar 2017 by Moises Venancio, Adviser, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

The Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization project is designed to support early recovery in liberated towns and motivate millions of displaced Iraqis to return to their communities. Photo: UNDP
In Mosul a battle is raging to take back the city from ISIL. As the fighting ends, essential work is ramping up to make sure that people who have been displaced by occupation and war can return to their homes as fast as possible - and stay there. Already in the past year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close cooperation with the Iraqi government, the provincial authorities and the international coalition, has helped to re-boot social and economic recovery in 18 locations that have been liberated from ISIL, including Falluja and Tikrit. Our US$790 million Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) project is designed to support the early recovery effort in liberated towns through a three-month, high-impact programme to motivate millions of displaced Iraqis to return to their communities from camps and informal settlements across the country. UNDP is making sure that people get services like water, clinics, schools, police stations, markets and government buildings. Families are receiving help to rebuild damaged homes, public infrastructure is being rehabilitated and small businesses are being supported with cash grants to get started again. These actions are essential to ensure those who were forced to flee are able to return and stay in the area, making them productive citizens once again. It is the first step towards post-conflict recovery and peace building. … Read more

Tackling the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin

23 Feb 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Part of UNDP's response to the crisis is providing skills training for women, who make up 54 percent of those displaced by the conflict in north-east Nigeria. Photo: UNDP Nigeria
Last May, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (USCFR) organized a briefing session on the situation in the Sahel region of Africa. During the session UNDP stressed the need for broad, concerted action to confront violent extremism and bring development solutions to the region affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that originated in Nigeria’s north-east seven years ago. It identified an “arc of instability” that stretches across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin. As UNDP and partners gather in Oslo for the International Humanitarian Conference on 24 February, we intend to focus on the situation in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin with heightened urgency. As an organization with deep knowledge gained through practical experience in the field, UNDP firmly believes that an all-encompassing response is the best way to resolve this crisis. However, solutions must also be tailored to each country's specific needs. Observers readily admit the Lake Chad Basin situation has been egregiously overlooked. The crisis could affect the security, economic, environmental and institutional integrity of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger … Read more

Africa’s unique vulnerability to violent extremism

11 Jan 2017 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

Africa bears the brunt of lives lost, economies ruined, and relationships fractured by terrorism. Stir in a large and growing cohort of unemployed and digitally connected youth, and the continent offers ideal conditions for mayhem. Photo: UNDP
Africa bears the brunt of lives lost, economies ruined, and relationships fractured by terrorism. It is the continent where al-Qaeda launched its war against the United States in 1998, by bombing the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; where Boko Haram kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in 2014; and where 147 students were killed in their sleep at Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015. While these attacks did garner the world’s attention, most people do not realize that, in the past five years alone, 33,000 people have died in terrorism-related violence in Africa. Violent extremism and groups espousing it are threatening to reverse Africa’s development gains not only in the near term, but also for decades to come. African countries are particularly vulnerable to violent ideologues, owing to the prevalence of weak institutions and ungoverned territory where extremist groups can germinate. Add to this the mismanagement of ethnic and religious diversity, stir in a large and growing cohort of unemployed and digitally connected youth, and the continent offers ideal conditions for mayhem. Emulating countries elsewhere, African governments have responded to violent extremism primarily by putting “hard” security first. But this strategy has not reduced extremist groups’ potency or limited their reach. In fact, there is evidence that an exclusively military response can be a waste of resources, or even do more harm than good. What is missing is a deeper examination of root causes, particularly underlying development challenges. … Read more

When rights are protected, migration benefits all

16 Dec 2016 by Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery, UNDP

According to the International Organization for Migration, remittances alone accounted for over 40 percent of Tajikistan's GDP last year. UNDP Tajikistan
Aujourd'hui, le monde compte plus de 244 millions de migrants - un chiffre record. L'immigration est une chance pour les migrants, les pays d'origine, de transit et de destination : à condition que la protection des droits des migrants soit respectée. Soyons honnêtes et convenons du fait que la migration présente à la fois des points positifs et négatifs. La pression exercée sur les services publics, la hausse du chômage, la baisse des salaires, les difficultés d'intégration et la fuite des cerveaux sont perçus comme des méfaits de la migration. Et pourtant, j’ai tendance à penser que les avantages sont plus importants que les inconvénients dans les pays d'origine et de destination. Parmi les aspects positifs de la migration, on peut citer la croissance économique, les envois de fonds, les services mis à la disposition d'une population vieillissante, la résorption du déficit de compétences, les innovations, la diversité culturelle et le tourisme. … Read more

Migrants and refugees: A global problem or a local solution?

18 Sep 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

A family of 10 flees the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria in Februray 2014. Six hours later, they crossed the border into Arsal, Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell.
This week, the world’s governments will come together at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to debate the crisis and response to large movements of migrants and refugees. The concept of “root causes” has been often cited in draft resolutions and speeches. It boils down to the fears and threats people are running away from, leaving behind their homes and countries. Conflict, climate shocks and lack of opportunity, repression and violation of rights, extremism and widespread poverty top the list of development failures that produce forced displacements. Successful development appears as one of the clearest solutions. Development policies need to adequately integrate and consider migration and displacement. … Read more

Rethinking the way the world deals with refugees

14 Sep 2016 by Cihan Sultanoğlu, Director, Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia

Photo Syrian refugee Sfook Ali AlhelalSyrian refugee Sfook Ali Alhelal sits with one of his two wives and their five children in a two-room apartment in Amman, Jordan. They fear being evicted because they are struggling to pay the rent. Photo: Freya Morales/UNDP
A year ago, masses of people fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan began to stream through the western Balkans on their way to northern Europe. Like anyone following the news closely, I was deeply moved by the chaotic scenes of crowded fields and train stations. A year on, these images have all but disappeared, but the numbers are telling a very different story. According to the International Organization for Migration, by July this year arrivals were up 17% compared with arrivals during the first seven months last year, many of them arriving through Italy and Greece. Europe’s migration crisis is showing no signs of abating. That’s because the crises fueling it are intensifying, uprooting ever growing numbers from their homes. It doesn’t help that refugees are being quarantined or spurned in many places where they set foot. Those kind of measures create even more poverty and despair among already traumatized people. … Read more