Migrant Transfers as a Development Tool - The Case of Somaliland

How can migrants help in development of their home countries?
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This paper examines the relationship between migration and development in the contest of Somaliland, where an estimated 25-40 per cent of the population receive regular remittances from abroad. The paper distinguishes four main historical waves of migration:

  • The first set of migrants left in early twentieth century to work in maritime trade;
  • Second wave of migrants began in early 1960s to the Middle East and the Gulf States to work in the booming oil-driven economies;
  • A third wave consists of Somalis who migrated for the purpose of education;
  • The last ones left due to civil war and political unrest.

The paper also estimates the volume and relative importance of individual and collective remittances to Somaliland:

  • Remittances range from US $100 to US $500 per month which is mainly spent on consumption, education and health;
  • Diaspora capital is also distributed outside Somalia, mainly in trading activities on international markets involving sums over US $500,000;
  • Remittances flow in the form of collective donations made by organizations created by the diaspora.

Finally, the paper suggests that the development agencies could work in partnership with Somaliland and diaspora organizations towards:

  • Securing open transfer channels and cutting the cost of money transfers;
  • Encouraging the Diaspora to organize within larger umbrella organizations and invest in community development initiatives;
  • Securing the rights of Somali migrants and refugees.

About this Publication

By Hansen, P.