Tag Archives: diaspora

Diaspora, Moving from Potential to Action


16 May 2017

By Samah Ahmed


To contribute scintillating and important debate around the role of diaspora in development and humanitarian action, it’s important to firstly ensure that the agency and capacity of second generation diaspora/children of migrants is given the (literal and metaphorical) space to flourish.


That was our motivation, when on 6th May, we brought together second generation diaspora individuals to discuss the motivations, challenges as well as opportunities children of migrants face when it comes to engagement in the humanitarian and development sector.

Panellist and attendants described their own experience as second generation diaspora, and what challenges they faced. It was striking how many similarities the group shared in terms of their experience even though they ranged in age, gender, cultural and professional backgrounds. Many talked of the challenge of straddling multiple identifies, and how it impacts on them being able to finding a space where they can feel welcomed and included. Those from conflict affected countries also spoke of the need to create space where open dialogue and networking can happen without the tint of politics.


Across the board, participants agreed that while second generation diaspora are agents of change, they face issues of visibility within the aid and development sector. While steps can be and should be taken to facilitate for diaspora to become system leader, telling their own story through strategic engagement at  policy level, the important point was also raised that we should not labour under the illusion that there is a silver bullet that will bring about development for all, acknowledging that  development is a systemic challenge and until we deal with the root causes rather than the symptoms by working together collaboratively,  we will not begin to make an impact.


Genuine engagement in development and humanitarian response is a challenge for diaspora whose countries of origin have governance and system challenge that stops initiatives and projects succeeding. It’s clear from our research and discussions that some short, medium and long term steps can be taken by second generation diaspora individuals and diaspora organisations to ensure that they are creating the spaces, visibility and networks needed to truly be included as system leaders and change agents. First and foremost, establishing lines of communication within and between diaspora individuals and organisations is critical for creating an effective partnership. Organisations coming together to form an umbrella entity that can reach out to and share information with as many diaspora members as possible. This will ensure that not only are individuals aware of activities are being undertaken, but they can easily join these initiatives and mobilise those within their networks to do so as well.


Where there continues to be knowledge gaps about how, where and why second generation diaspora are not engaging in development or humanitarian response, we as an organisation recognise that we can step and through research can contribute to building an evidence based picture that shines a light on the agency and capacity of those living in the diaspora.


If you are so enthused by our (potential) plans, regardless of where you are in the world, just get in touch and we can take it from there!

Event: Looking Forward, Taking Action | 6 May 2017


Join us for discussion, insights and findings based on Shabaka’s newly released report “Diaspora, Development and Humanitarian Response: Motivations, Opportunities and Challenges for Children of Migrants”.  We will be presenting the report findings on the modes and motivations for engagement 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. During the roundtable, speakers will deliberate on the report findings and their own thoughts on what recommendations can be implemented, and how. Following the roundtable, there will be an opportunity to network and continue the conversation.

For tickets and further information please click here

The full report can be downloaded here

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.