Diaspora – a development factor

The SDC’s Global Programme Migration and Development helps migrants to contribute to sustainable development by fostering appropriate conditions in countries of origin, transit and destination. It also supports initiatives carried out by diaspora organisations.

SDC focus

The priorities and activities of the SDC’s Global Programme Migration and Development (GPMD) as regards diasporas are based on three pillars:

  • Improving conditions: The GPMD helps to create the necessary political, legal and social conditions to allow migrants' experience to have the largest possible impact. To this end, the GPMD works closely with national and local authorities in migrants’ countries of origin, cooperating with them on the drafting of strategies and action plans that will strengthen diasporas’ role as a development actor.
  • Developing capabilities: The GPMD strengthens the organisational skills of members of migrant organisations, ensuring that their ideas and plans can be implemented. This requires project management skills and awareness of the added value that migrants create in terms of development cooperation.
  • Working with diasporas: The GPMD establishes projects in cooperation with selected migrant organisations, in order to assess the potential for cooperation (and its limits) and develop various different forms of cooperation.


Studies show that migrants who have integrated well in their host country make a significant contribution to the development of their country of origin. Thus, integration and commitment to one’s homeland are not mutually exclusive. The economic and socio-cultural potential that diasporas possess plays a crucial role in the development of their countries of origin. Migrants transfer money to family and friends and invest, through small businesses, in the development of their homeland. However, even in their country of destination, they contribute to the development of their country of destination through the transfer of skills, knowledge and experience. Members of diaspora communities move between two countries. They know the living conditions in both the countries of origin and destination. Migrants are playing an increasingly important role in the debate regarding future development cooperation. Closer partnerships among governments, development organisations and migrants can help us to better exploit the potential benefits of migration.

Current challenges

While we have seen increasing numbers of new initiatives seeking to reach out to diaspora organisations, there is also a need for effective cooperation, coordination and long-term planning. Many countries of origin have begun to take their diasporas into account when planning development and drawing up strategies and action plans. However, other countries of origin do not yet have the conditions that are necessary in order to take advantage of their diasporas' potential from a development perspective. Closer cooperation between development actors who recognise diasporas' potential will open up new horizons as regards the development of migrants’ countries of origin.

Current projects

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Diaspora knowledge mobility project

01.11.2023 - 31.10.2027

Many members of the 2 million diaspora of Bosnia and Herzegovina are ready to contribute to the development of their country with their knowledge, skills and investments. Switzerland supports the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in creating mechanisms for transfer of diaspora knowledge and skills to local development actors, scientific, research and educational institutions and students, which will contribute to Bosnia’s economic and social development. 

Moldova – Making the Most of Migration

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2026

With one third of Moldova’s population living abroad, the current country`s leadership is firmly committed to harness the development potential of migration. Previous Swiss-supported interventions resulted in a unique mobilization of Moldovan migrants committed to contribute to the development of their home communities. Switzerland will further support Moldova to ensure the sustainability of diaspora engagement models and to improve evidence-based governance through reliable demographic statistics, including migration trends.

Migration de travail et développement économique en Afrique de l'Ouest

01.01.2020 - 31.05.2025

La migration en Afrique de l’Ouest est en grande partie intra régionale, et se fait principalement à des fins de travail. Grâce à sa longue expérience en migration et développement (M&D), la Suisse vise à faciliter la contribution des migrant-e-s au développement socio-économique de la sous-région par la voie d'initiatives qui ont trait à leur protection, leur meilleure inclusion dans les zones urbaines, ainsi qu’à leur plus grande implication dans les trajectoires de développement des pays concernés. 

Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD)

01.12.2018 - 31.08.2024

Migration is one of the 21st century’s defining features that significantly impacts economic and social development. It is thus crucial to ensure that the positive effects of migration on development are maximized, while the negative ones minimized. This is only possible if reliable evidence on migration and its interrelations with development is available. KNOMAD generates ground-breaking research and policy recommendations in the field of M&D. Switzerland has taken a lead in building-up KNOMAD as a pioneering knowledge initiative.

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