How do diasporas respond when disasters and emergencies happen?

How do diasporas respond when disasters and emergencies happen?

In 2019, diasporas sent an estimated $551 billion in remittances to origin countries, that is more than triple official aid sent by countries such as the US. This is predicted to decline this year due to economic crises in response to COVID-19, yet, the figures remain staggering at $445 billion. Diasporas are also often among the first respondent in humanitarian crises. For example, the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), based in San Francisco, raised more than $200,000 and provided relief supplies to assist in response to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. In Syria, majority of aid arrives through local networks and diaspora groups, such as HIHFAD and Syria Relief, accessing areas international organisations are unable to.

To have an evidence-based understanding of diaspora’s humanitarian response, the European Union Global Diaspora Facility (EUDiF) launched a case study titled ‘Diaspora Engagement in Times of Crisis’, a collaboration between ICMPD and Shabaka. We are trying to understand better how diasporas respond to emergencies and humanitarian crises in their homelands. To help improve these responses – and make diaspora contributions more effective – we are consulting with various stakeholders engaged with diasporas in six selected countries of origin/heritage:

• Lebanon (emergency response to the August 2020 explosion in Beirut)
• Nepal (floods in 2017)
• Nicaragua (migration crisis 2018-present)
• Sudan (COVID 19 response and recent floods, 2020)
• Ukraine (responses to the political crisis and conflict following the Euro-Maidan revolution in 2013/2014)[1].
• Zambia (responses to Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in southern Africa, in 2019)

What is the problem?
The problem is everyone is operating in silos and so responses are often uncoordinated and lack the effectiveness they deserve. We want to help change that.

Many potential opportunities exist for more effective response to humanitarian crises, such as exploring pathways for collaboration and more productive partnerships between international organisations and diaspora networks. For example, to:
• better understand diaspora motivation and desire to assist, their perspectives and needs;
• explore approaches to strengthening diaspora human resources and financial assets, and
• Capture best practices that support efficiency and effectiveness of diaspora engagement in humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery.

What can I do?
1. The voices of stakeholders in humanitarian action is at the heart of this project. Diasporas, governments, NGOs, UN among others have a critical role in shaping and creating how humanitarian response is being shaped. You can be part of this critical project in two ways. Filling out the online survey here (for English/Spanish/Ukrainian survey) and here (for Arabic survey). All surveys are completely anonymous.
2. Drop us an email if you are interested in taking part in a short one-to-one interview with a member of our research team by phone or online. If interested, please email info @ shabaka. org

Your views and perspectives are valuable, and we need them. Thank you for your kind consideration.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Why are you conducting this study?
To understand:

  1. the extent and variety of diaspora responses to humanitarian crises;
  2. how diasporas work with others (such as agencies like local networks or charities or even governments, UN agencies, and INGOs) to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by crisis;
  3. how to make those responses more effective.

What is the aim of the project?
The aim is to assess:
• how diasporas have provided effective humanitarian assistance in the past (in the six country contexts above) and,
• to make recommendations to improve that effectiveness further.

How is diaspora defined?
A diaspora is defined as an international community dispersed or no longer residing in its original homeland, for whatever reason.

What are the criteria for taking part?
Only that you have contributed in some way to humanitarian assistance to your country of origin/ heritage. For example, by sending home financial assistance to family members, supported local projects, charities or aid agencies with advice or resources of any kind, large or small.

Is it for all diasporas?
This survey is for all diasporas (with links to the six countries listed above) who are based in Europe (EU + Norway, Switzerland, and the UK)

Will my participation in the study be kept confidential?
Yes. All information about your participation in this study will be kept in accordance with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016. This means we anonymise all the data (unless you state otherwise) and we will keep this data for a maximum of two years before deleting it.

[1] The Euromaidan (Ukrainian: Євромайдан, Yevromaidan or Yevromaydan, literally ‘Euro Square’) was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of 21 November 2013 with public protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv.

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