New Report: Diaspora, Development and Humanitarian Response

New Report: Diaspora, Development and Humanitarian Response

Diaspora, Development and Humanitarian Response: Motivations, Opportunities and Challenges for Children of Migrants

March 2017

By Bashair Ahmed and Samah Ahmed

Download full report here

Diasporas are growing communities globally and are becoming significant players in development and humanitarian response, whether in their new homes or countries of origin. However, most of the focus of diaspora engagement by academics and practitioners has largely been on financial contributions or remittances, even though there is now a growing body of research on diaspora engagement in politics and cultural transfers. This report focuses on capturing data on the engagement, or lack of, in development and humanitarian response in countries or regions of origin by second generation diaspora/children of migrants from the Horn of Africa* and the Middle East**, with a focus on countries which lag in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and suffer from humanitarian crises. The report is a means to an end; it seeks to address some of the existing gaps in research by highlighting current engagements by children of migrants in development and humanitarian response, which in turn identifies existing platforms to support these initiatives and seek to build a network of diaspora engaged in these sectors, or who are interested in becoming involved. Based on these findings, we intend to strive for the development of better platforms and programmes that respond better to their unique needs and create opportunities.

Key findings

– Interest and focus of activism among children of migrants is centred on social and cultural issues and much less on political activism.

– Children of migrants are motivated by contributing to community and personal development.

– For those who are engaged in development and humanitarian response, the nature of engagement is diverse and informal.

– Children of migrants have differing views about geographic location and nature of engagement in development and humanitarian response to first generation diaspora.

– Diasporas actively seek leadership training and development to enable continued engagement in development and humanitarian response.



The intent of this report is to identify opportunities and challenges for children of migrants when it comes to engagement in development and humanitarian response. And although not exhaustive, the data analysis shows the various ways and types of strategies that could be implemented to establish and build mechanisms that encourage diaspora engagement. While researching and analysing data for this report, several possible approaches have suggested themselves, and which are detailed in the ‘Overview of Recommendations’ section of the report. To summarise, the main recommendations are: cultivate open channels of communications with and among diasporas and inter-generationally; support children of migrants’ engagement in development and humanitarian response through mentoring and knowledge exchange; increase collaboration between diaspora organisations to build impact in programming and policy advocacy and improved reach out to diaspora groups by development and humanitarian actors, including the establishment of diaspora focal points to sustain partnerships and collaborations.

* Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.

** Yemen, Iraq and Syria.


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