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Diaspora organisations and their development potential: An analysis of Ghanaian diaspora organisations in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands

Discussion Paper 200

August 2016

Otieno Ong'ayo, A. 2016. Diaspora organisations and their development potential: An analysis of Ghanaian diaspora organisations in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. (Discussion Paper 200). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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The heightened impact of international migration in both the countries of destination and the countries of origin highlights the significance of human mobility in the migration and development debates (Nyberg-Sørensen, 2012; Nyberg-Sørensen et al. 2002). The link between migration and development derives from the centrality of transnational diaspora activities and their translocal development outcomes (Zoomers and Van Westen, 2011). The development potential is reflected by the increased volume of financial remittances (World Bank, 2009), and various forms of social remittances (Levitt, 1998). These resources largely emanate from individual and collective initiatives, with the countries of origin as the main focus.

The issue of migration has received a great deal of attention in destination countries due to the perceived challenges in terms of demographic shifts, pressure on the welfare system, integration and participation, global competition for skilled labour (Ong’ayo et al. 2010), the increasing multiculturality of many towns and cities in the EU, and the large flows of refugees in need of protection seeking to cross the EU’s southern borders. These concerns inform the sharper focus on migration policies aimed at managing migration flows (Boswell, 2007).

They also provide an impetus for a re-examination of the development potential of diasporas in a framework that looks at their contributions from both a ‘here’ and a ‘there’ perspective. At the same time, it is imperative to take account of the development potential of diaspora organisations,1 in particular their contribution to the countries of destination. This is an aspect that has received only limited attention in the debate on the migration and development nexus. Human mobility not only benefits families and countries of origin, but also makes a significant contribution to development processes in destination countries, thanks to the reverse flows generated by individual and collective initiatives (Mazzucato, 2011).


Key messages


  • Integration, stability and improved capacity in the country of destination are important prerequisites for transnational initiatives targeting the country of origin.
  • From a development cooperation policy perspective, diaspora initiatives might seem to compete with the activities of mainstream development agencies, but there is actually evidence that their input may be complementary.
  • Collective diaspora activities are one of the posibive aspects of migration that can be used to address local challenges in the EU such as ageing population, the transformations generated by migration flows and the demand for skilled labour.
  • A policy framework that seeks to achieve coherence among different institutions at the different levels at which diasporas operate could help to ensure that diaspora activities complement local initiatives.

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Strengthening European External ActionAfrica-EU RelationsDiscussion Papers (series)MigrationGermanyGhanaThe NetherlandsUnited Kingdom

External authors

Antony Otieno Ong'ayo