Mobilizing Rural Communities to Use Remittances for Development

As the UN’s High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development
gets underway next week in New York, a joint IOM-UNDP programme in
Tajikistan is showing how migrant remittances can be successfully
used for development among poor communities.

Tajikistan, which has more than 620,000 labour migrants working
abroad - about one in every four households has a migrant in the
family - is the poorest and the most economically fragile of the
CIS countries. Labour migration is usually seen as the only way of
escaping poverty in an earthquake-prone country where 93 per cent
of the land is mountainous.

The remittances sent home by migrants, more than US$650 million
last year and significantly up from the under US$100 million in
2001, have created a rise in domestic demand for goods and are
behind the growth of the economy. Tajikistan is witnessing an
inflow of capital into rural areas where 72 per cent of the
population lives. However, the money is usually spent on
subsistence living or saved for family events as few resources
exist to support entrepreneurship and the development of the rural

“Roughly 30 per cent of the rural male population is
abroad. We should not underestimate labour migration as an agent of
change, especially in poor rural areas of Tajikistan and for that
we need to mobilize returning migrants to invest as well as whole
communities,” said IOM chief of mission in Dushanbe, Mahmoud

A joint IOM/UNDP pilot project aimed at encouraging the use of
remittances for economic and social development among two rural
communities resulted in the implementation of several small scale
infrastructure projects such as improving schools, rebuilding
bridges and the cleaning of water reservoirs, with matching funds
from migrant remittances and IOM/UNDP.

More than 170 returning migrants and women-headed migrant
households were trained in starting their own businesses with 152
of them in the end putting forward nearly US$40,000 of their money
to realizing their ambitions with matching funds from the two

The programme has now been enlarged to cover 15 communities in
Zarafshon valley where there are significant numbers of migrant
households and where Jamoat Resource Centres (rural resource
centres) already exist. 

The communities will identify infrastructure projects they
consider necessary and important for them with priority being given
to those that will make a greater difference to their lives and
where migrant families are willing to invest more of their
financial resources. IOM and UNDP will match the funds and by the
end of the project, Migrant Household Associations will have been
established to help pool remittances for community development.

“We have seen with the pilot project that the use of even
just a few thousand dollars can make a significant difference to
the lives of people in poor communities. We know that by enlarging
the programme, even more of a difference will be made, not just
because of what is being built or repaired, but by the seed we are
planting through investment and training and by tying migration to
development in a very practical way,” said Mahmoud Naderi.

The programme will also provide training to migrant households
on family budgeting so that more efficient use of remittances can
be made.

IOM will also provide information to at least 2000 households in
targeted communities on the realities of labour migration, human
trafficking and HIV and AIDS using counsellors from the
IOM-operated Information Centre for Labour Migrants in
Dushanbe.  The Organization will also work to build the
capacity of the community resource centres on labour migration
issues, on working with migrant households and on mobilizing them
to invest their remittances for community development. This will
result in a sustainable source of expertise which can help improve
the social and economic fabric of these rural communities after the
programme has ended.

For more information, please contact:

Mahmoud Naderi

IOM Dushanbe

Tel +99 23 72 21 03 02

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