International Development Planning Review

Institutionalising transnational migrants' activities: the impact of co-development programmes

International Development Planning Review (2010), 32, (3-4), 245–265.

Abstract

Immigrants and their activities occupy a central position in the debate on the migration and development nexus. The focus used to be on remittances and brain drain, but as immigrants are now participating in co-development programmes, they are often regarded as a new channel for development cooperation. Although there are high expectations concerning the contribution of immigrants and their organisations to development, research on co-development initiatives and their impact is scarce. This contribution draws on experiences from the Netherlands, France and Spain in order to address co-development programmes, the value-added of immigrant involvement in development cooperation and the implications for immigrant organisations (IOs). We argue that the value-added of immigrants in co-development programmes is highly context-specific, and that the current model of co-development programmes – namely forcing IOs into the framework of established development NGOs – not only is accessible to only a very few IOs, but also brings to the fore the main principle of co-development: the specific value-added of immigrants and their organisations. Based on this, we conclude that the importance attached to co-development – as it is expressed in the academic and professional debate – is not accompanied by substantial budgets. We also observe that due to the model applied, the current co-development approach is not that new and innovative, but simply more promising young wine in old barrels.

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Nijenhuis, Gery

Broekhuis, Annelet