Rise of Diaspora Volunteerism

Published Date:   Sunday, Aug 18, 2013

Diaspora volunterism in recent years have shown phenomenal increase in both virtual and real world. Thanks to the first and second generation diasporas who are often called ‘new diasporas’ having fresh emotional ties and better access to communication and transportation. This diaspora voluntarism has a very positive side for many developing countries as these voluntarism can be tapped and harnessed for development purposes. With the technological advancement and institutionalisation this volunteerism can be tapped better.

We have witnessed a growing diaspora advocacy in post 1990s across the globe, where diaspora groups in many countries lobbied and advocated for various issues involving in their home country. Often these advocacy group engages in mutual benefits for home and host countries by articulating interest of the both the countries and for themselves.

Platforms such as the Diaspora Volunteering Alliance brings together UK organisations with a common interest in engaging and sending Diaspora volunteers to support projects in their countries and continents of origin. DVA is currently operating in three regions: Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. This organisation aims to support and promote the mobilisation of Diaspora communities to actively contribute to international development through volunteering, fighting poverty and disadvantage. More details can be accessed at http://www.diasporavolunteeringalliance.org/

Earlier, a study by Migration Policy Institute also found many interesting trends in USA. About 1 million Americans volunteer abroad each year, including nearly 200,000 immigrants and their children. Diasporas often have the connections, language skills, social knowledge, and personal drive to volunteer outside of organized programs, but many also volunteer through existing programs. Many volunteer programs target highly skilled diaspora volunteers to provide advice to entrepreneurs and business owners, build public health or higher education capacity, assist post-conflict reconstruction and recovery, or provide public policy advice. Other volunteer programs are designed to attract diaspora youth -- often from the second generation -- to work in grassroots community groups, similar to the US Peace Corps. USAID and other international development programs already rely informally on diaspora volunteers, and as the skilled migrant population grows and the number of US youth with immigrant parents increases, the potential pool of diaspora volunteers is expected to expand significantly. For more details, please visit: www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/diasporas-volunteers.pdf.

More efforts are also made virtually through internet and social networking etc. to mobilise the diaspora volunteerism for development issues. These networks are based on professional interest and identity increasing rapidly.



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