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Migrants and development

When we touch upon the topic of migrations, we focus on two things. First, what a society can do as a host to integrate the newcomers. Secondly, what the newcomers should do to be received in a peaceful way. Today, I would like to refer to different expectations – those of the migrants’ families. What does a family, who very often pays for the journey, expect, what are the thoughts of those who are left in the so called third countries? What migrants do to help in the development of their place of birth? The problem of the migrations and development has not beenconsidered in Poland as yet.

Irregular immigration, either legal or not, contributes to the progress, to the development of the third countries. Those people are the actors of the progress, solid progress. They start different projects for the development of their villages or regions. Usually these projects are aimed at such places, forgotten by the central authority, where there is no school or health centre.

The migrations are the potential engine of growth and development for all engaged parties: receiving countries, countries of origin and for the immigrants themselves. The advantages for the society of the receiving country are obvious: the rejuvenation of the labour force at no expense, the increase of the profitability of such sectors as agriculture and services, important contribution to the system of social care, the response to the needs of the branch of new technologies.Migrants’ countries of origin gain a positive capital investment (money orders as well as investments) through the transfer of technology and competences.


A new perspective on the development aid

In a broader view, projects created by the immigrants in their countries of origin engage the authorities, international aid organisations, and EU countries’ governments, which have been providing humanitarian and development aid for years. It is a new direction for African countries, the outside alternative for the officially set public development aid which is not always effective. I often read that billions of dollars have been pumped in Africa for the last 50 years. The logical question appears: when is it all going to end? The answer is not simple. The questioner may pretend ignorance and do not take all aspects of this aid into account. They do not ask, how much from those billions goes to farmers, breeders or ordinary inhabitants of any village in the countries that receive help. How many agents, companies from the supporting country are involved in the realization of the projects? In other words, how much money goes back, through different ways (purchases of equipment and various materials, hiring research or project departments), how many things must be acquired at the companies from the funding country.

In France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland or the USA, an immigrant from Senegal supports their family in many things, such as everyday products, health issues, education, funerals, baptisms… The money order is the most important thing for their family. It is fast and simple. Money Gram or Western Union, which is popular in Poland, have six thousand agent locations in Senegal. The motto of the latter is: „Join a number of people who for over 150 years have been entrusting us with their money to transfer it to their families.” A withdrawal is possible in over 200 countries and territories throughout the world. Despite high commissions, this form of transferring money is indispensable for the immigrants.Thanks to that, every year, people in different African countries receive money that is several times the value of the so called development aid from the rich North. These good practices of the immigrants should inspire decision makers throughout the world to change the obsolete and sometimes amoral approach towards the cooperation with poorer countries.


Between the immigrants and their villages

These finances can be a capital injection for savings and credit cooperatives in the villages thanks to the money ordersto families, for the equipment, or to provide the means for loans to the local borrowers.In the past, the migrants limited themselves to supporting their family relations and to financing the rural infrastructure (they were the founders or the sponsors of health centres, mosques, schools etc.). They promoted a less effective modelof development, which gave them prestige in the eyes of the villagers. Today everything looks different. The emergence of the formal organisations for development, for instance associations, as well as new forms of funding change the relations between the migrants and their villages.Rural organisations are getting more involved. The migrants become the creditors. Unfortunately, more projects are realised in the cities, mainly in the field of immovables and transport, which are the profitable sectors.

Almost 30% of the money orders received via money transfer agencies comes from siblings, 20% from parents and 14% from a spouse. The money transfer is also a common practice at the workplace; the money is sent by colleagues or even by customers.

Apart from the money orders in Senegal, there are also considerable transfers from France, Italy, Spain or the USA. In Africa itself, the countries such as Gabon, Mali or Morocco are also an important source of the money transfers. The Senegalese are the real nomads. Who is not, actually? Is there a place in the world where it is impossible to find Polish diaspora?

The money transfers have a potential to bring real positive changes in the migrants’ countries of origin. Their significance becomes enormous when we compare them with the officially set development aid. The valorisation of the experience of the migrants returning to their countries of origin is a completely different subject, which is very important as far as the programmes or projects for the development of the third countries are concerned. I think that the role of the migrants in the development of their countries of origin will be increasing, thanks to their experience from their stay in the "first” or "second” countries and thanks to their competences and money transfers. The effectiveness is an essential aspect. It is obvious that one is more willing to help one’s own family or friends.


By Mamadou Diouf

Translation: Alicja Kosim