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Diaspora organizations provide tremendous added value to humanitarian assistance. Historically, diasporas are key contributors to their countries of origin or heritage through remittances and other financial or in-kind contributions, but their involvement in humanitarian efforts mean so much more.

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As seen during numerous man-made and natural disasters, diasporas are able to leverage their financial contributions, community connections, skills and local area knowledge to quickly address needs on the ground in their communities of origin. But what is less explored until now is how diasporas’ engagement could be strengthened through stronger coordination within the diasporas and with other humanitarian actors to bring further value to all aspects of humanitarian response, preparedness, and recovery matters.

Building on several decades of work in diaspora engagement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with Haiti Renewal Alliance (HRA) and funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), developed a Framework for Diaspora's Engagement in Humanitarian Assistance to foster deeper coordination and cooperation between diaspora organizations and with institutional humanitarian actors, like INGOs, NGOs, U.N. agencies, and governments. The primary aim of the Framework is to enhance humanitarian efforts provided by diaspora and other actors, ultimately increasing the reach and effectiveness towards affected communities.

Consultations began in December and are continuing through February as part of developing the framework.
A screenshot of one of the initial consultations with various stakeholders to start developing the Framework.

As part of the project's formative stages, six virtual consultations were held between December 2020 and March 2021 with several diaspora organizations and institutional humanitarian actors in attendance. Separate one-on-one meetings were also conducted for more in-depth analysis of data being collected through surveys. Two surveys were sent out with the aim of gathering more data on what might be needed for a robust and functioning Framework, with one survey targeting diaspora organizations and receiving 123 complete responses. The majority of respondents identified their country of origin/heritage as Haiti, the Philippines, Nigeria, Venezuela, Bangladesh, and Senegal. Another survey was sent out to institutional humanitarian actors (IHAs), with respondents representing the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa. The IHA respondents also came from a wide array of intervention sectors, with the majority working with camp coordination and management; protection; shelter and settlements; water, sanitation and hygiene; and health.

Recommendations for diasporas to be better positioned to engage in humanitarian assistance
One of the survey questions asked respondents for recommendations for diasporas to be better positioned to engage in Humanitarian Assistance.

 

The Framework itself currently comprises of internal and external models for coordination, communication and collaboration, as well as a set of flow charts on diaspora engagement in preparedness & prevention and response & recovery. 

The project has presented at various virtual, hybrid, and in-person conferences between 2021 and 2022, including UNOCHA's Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW), the European Union Global Diaspora Facility's Future Forum, the DEMAC International Conference, and NaFFAA's National Empowerment Conference. In July 2022, a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Framework were shared in a special session of the annual Shelter Cluster conference. At the 2022 HNPW in Geneva, the project was presented at two separate sessions: 

  • Implementing a Framework for Diaspora's Engagement in Humanitarian Assistance for more Effective and Coordinated Assistance (recording)
  • Non-traditional actor engagement strategies for integration to increase communities' resilience and reconstruction from disasters in the Caribbean (recording)

IOM has been working closely with its partners to finalize the Framework and its components, to ensure its readiness for chronic and acute crisis situations. The Framework was first tested in an emergency situation in 2021, following the August 14 earthquake in Haiti, and additional adaptations for response in Ukraine are in progress.

For more information or to get involved with the project, please contact diasporaforhumanity@iom.int. Follow us on Twitter (@DiasporaEngaged) or sign up here for updates: https://diaspora.pub/3Bgb1TD.