Local News

Maximising the Value of the Diaspora to Jamaica’s Sustainable Development

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Jamaicans in the Diaspora are of strategic importance to Jamaica in its quest for sustainable development; and the major indicators of its value in this process are: remittances which represent 17% of GDP, and tourists which is some 11-15% of overall visitors.

That, according to the Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI), the operating arm of the Jamaica Development Foundation (JADF), in its assessment leading up to the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, to be held in Montego Bay, June 16-19, 2013.

Dr. Neville Ying

Professor Neville Ying, Executive Director of the JDI, said that there are numerous Diaspora organisations, which make significant contributions to Jamaica in healthcare, education, sports, business,investment and trade. And, there are some 132 recorded health missions from the Diaspora, which provide free health care services especially in rural communities, and the donation of equipment and pharmaceutical supplies to hospitals and health clinics.

“We estimate that approximately 131 alumni associations in the Diaspora contribute scholarships, donate equipment and educational supplies; as well as, financial assistance for student welfare and infrastructure development projects to a variety of educational institutions in Jamaica,” Professor Ying stated.

And, he affirmed that the Jamaican government recognises the importance of the Diaspora to the development of Jamaica.

“It is against that backdrop that the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation and its operating arm, the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, were established,” Professor Ying explained, “and these structures emerged in response to resolutions passed at the first Biennial Diaspora Conference in 2004.”

The JADF and the JDI were officially incorporated in 2009, with their principal goals being strengthening the engagement of the Diaspora with Jamaica; and their mission is to undertake strategic initiatives to maximize the contributions of the Diaspora to the development of Jamaica.

In his assessment, Professor Ying pointed out that the Foundation and the Institute achieved five important milestones, which will serve to move Diaspora engagement initiatives forward.

He said that the first accomplishment was the development of the Diaspora web portal jamicadiasporaconnect.com. This was made possible through funding from the EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) for the Project: Knowledge Networks for connecting Jamaica and its Diaspora and the major project partners were The Mona School of Business and Management and KAJANS Women Enterprise in the United Kingdom.

“This portal is a major vehicle for communicating with Jamaicans in the Diaspora. Sharing information with the Diaspora and its development and use is consistent with how countries with more developed Diasporas have used ICTs in their process of Diaspora engagement,” he affirmed.

A second initiative, a research paper entitled: Jamaica Diaspora Governance and Operational Structure the Way Forward, provided important guidelines for Jamaica and its Diaspora to establish appropriate and effective Governance structures and arrangements.

“Our third venture was the Situational Analysis research paper on the value, size, geographical distribution, the challenges and opportunities of the Diaspora in major locations and the major goals for effective Diaspora engagement,” he stated, noting that, “The analysis provided important technical information for the development of Jamaica’s International Migration and Development Policy and the country’s Diaspora Policy.”

Subsequently, a fourth achievement was the establishment of international links and relationships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Technical Committee of Experts Meeting for the African Diaspora coordinated by the South Africa Office, and Cuso International.

In his overview, the fifth accomplishment was the launch of the Diaspora Youth Connect (DYC) Project, a collaborative initiative involving CUSO International and the UWI Mona Township Programme to Connect Youth across Borders.

“And, the main objective of this project is to encourage Diaspora Future leaders and youth in vulnerable communities in Jamaica to develop entrepreneurial skills and start up their own business ventures, Professor Ying explained.

He pointed out that the JDI worked in collaboration with several key partners including the Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; as well as, Jamaica Diaspora Associations and Interest Groups in the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom, to achieve these five milestones.

Dr. Ying asserts that the Foundation and Institute are now poised to be the premier institutions in Jamaica to facilitate effective and meaningful partnerships between Jamaica and its Diaspora for sustainable development.

Related Articles

Back to top button