Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar presented the new Politique nationale d’engagement de la diaspora malagasy (National Malagasy diaspora engagement policy), prepared with support from MIEUX, in Antanarivo, Madagascar. The formulation of the policy, linked to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, has been the objective of a two-year Action that started in November 2017 and aims to promote, foster and facilitate the participation of Malagasys abroad into the country´s future development.
Reinforcing links with Malagasy diaspora
In 2017, MIEUX received a request to support the Directorate of Diaspora under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in formulating an inclusive and sustainable diaspora engagement policy as part of a five-year national development plan. The Malagasy diaspora is relatively small in numbers, concentrated in France, with a large percentage of women and with many employed in high-skilled professions.
This request matches the increasing recognition of the role that the diaspora can play in the development of their home countries, as exemplified by the inclusion of diaspora-related targets in the 2030 Agenda and by governments and diaspora members and associations who are increasingly looking to strengthen that link by facilitating investments and the transfer of knowledge.
Since then, a sequence of activities has taken place, among which, several consultations at the national level among various Ministries and with the Malagasy diaspora, and participation of the private sector, civil society and all relevant stakeholders. The policy is linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as ongoing plans for national development. Mr. Bamadi Sanokho and Ms. Khady Sakho Niang, President of Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale Issues des Migrations (FORIM), both acted as independent experts in several activities.
Speaking about the Action, MIEUX Project Officer and Regional Coordinator for Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, Elisa van der Valk, commented, “On behalf of the MIEUX team and of ICMPD, I am glad to attend the presentation of this policy, borne out of two years of intense work by all parties. This excellent collaboration is witness to the concerted and inclusive methodology that brought together different Malagasy ministries and institutions, and non-state actors, especially members of the diaspora, as a prime example of a whole-of-society approach. We are proud to have been selected to work with the Malagasy authorities in the development of this policy, which marks an important step forward in reinforcing a mutually beneficial relationship between Madagascar and its diaspora.
As Ms. Lanto Rahajarizafy, Director in charge of the Diaspora for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Madagascar, expressed in an interview featured in the 2017 MIEUX Annual Report, “…the government is aware of the potential of the diaspora and of the role it can play for the development of the country…The main objective has been to promote diaspora participation in the development of Madagascar.” This involves multiple domains, such as remittances, investment, return to the country of origin and promotion of Madagascar abroad.
National Malagasy diaspora engagement policy: themes and axes
The policy presented today is articulated around five axes that describe how the Malagasy Ampielezana (Malagasy abroad) can contribute to national development:
- The first axis describes the responsibility of the Government towards its citizens abroad and how it plans to support and protect them during all stages of the migration cycle.
- The second axis describes the various means that Malagasy diaspora can contribute to national development, acknowledging the social, cultural, technical, economic and financial capital of the diaspora and the measures to be put in place to facilitate investment, entrepreneurship, employment and cultural affinity.
- The third axis stipulates that the Government will need to put in place several measures to improve the knowledge base about Malagasy diaspora, moving beyond a mere “mapping” exercise of numbers, countries of residence and skills towards a broader understanding of their needs and aspirations, with a view to incorporate these into evidence-based policymaking.
- The fourth axis specifies the rights of citizens abroad to enjoy and participate in the political life of Madagascar, putting in place new measures such as recognising the right of the diaspora to vote in elections with a revision of the current law.
- The fifth axis aims to strengthen strategic partnership and cooperation on diaspora engagement at national, bilateral, and international level by coordinating the agencies and departments with a purview over diaspora matters in joint actions.
MIEUX, ICMPD and diaspora engagement
Since 2009, MIEUX has implemented 22 Actions in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. Specifically in Burundi, Ghana, Malawi and Mauritius, MIEUX has supported the formulation of migration policies and strategies that include diaspora engagement either as a part of a wider migration policy or as the main objective of national policy.
In turn, promoting diaspora engagement is a key part of ICMPD’s work on the migration and development nexus. Since 2007, ICMPD has been working with a number of governments to design diaspora engagement policies and programmes. Aside from the aforementioned countries, ICMPD has supported Tajikistan, Lebanon, Georgia and Austria in creating strategies and plans involving their respective diaspora groups. Over the last five years, ICMPD has also supported the set-up of the Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform, a non-profit member-run platform for African diaspora organisations in Europe engaged in the development of Africa.
In June 2019, the new EU Global Diaspora Facility (EUDiF), implemented by ICMPD, was launched with the objective of enhancing development collaboration between EU-based diaspora organisations, countries of origin & the EU. The project runs from June 2019 until the end of 2022 and will conduct a global mapping of diaspora engagement, deliver capacity building, organise consultations and exchanges with diaspora and countries of origin, and deploy diaspora expertise for development projects, among others.