IFAD brings together experts on migration and remittances

IFAD brought together leading experts on migration and remittances in the historical city of Perugia to look at why migrants matter, both in Italy and back home.

Over 80 attendees, including students and journalists, gathered to hear top experts discuss issues around migration and remittances at the panel session, Money Talks - Why Migrants Matter at the International Journalism Festival, the largest annual media event in Europe.

Over 80 people attended the session "Money Talks - Why Migrants Matter" at the International Journalism Festival
The panel of experts included: Adolfo Brizzi, the director in the Office of the Associate Vice President at IFAD; Charito Basa, the founder of the Filipino Women's Council(FWC) and Leon Isaacs the CEO of Developing Markets Associates. Moderating the event was Karima Moual, an award-winning journalist, whose writing and reporting focuses on the Arab World, Middle East policy, Islamic issues and immigration/migration.

The panel discussed the impact money from remittances has on local economies. Last year, 250 million international migrants sent almost half a trillion US dollars back to their communities in developing countries, 40 per cent of which – around US$200 billion – reached rural areas.

"Migrants’ money represents a critical lifeline for millions of households,  helping families raise their living standards above subsistence and vulnerability levels while investing in health, education, housing as well as entrepreneurial activities," said Adolfo Brizzi, Director in the Office of the Associate Vice President at IFAD. "Remittances can reunite families, promote development and slow migration. In Italy for example, migrants send back home about 25 per cent of their earnings, while 75 per cent stays in the country – this is contributing to the country’s GDP and is a win-win situation all round.”

Remittances also offer other opportunities, in particular, "remittances are a great possibility for investment, as they give the opportunity to rebuild rural communities and stabilize families, " said Charito Basa, the founder of the Filipino Women's Council  (FWC). Basa is an economic migrant herself whose reason to come to Italy was to help her family back home.

IFAD estimates that one in ten people originating from a developing country either sends or receives international – or domestic – remittances. Although remittances are critical for communities in developing countries, there is always a risk when sending money.

According to Leon Isaacs, CEO of Developing Markets Associates, migrants lack financial protection when making these transfers:
"To transfer money, different countries implement different laws for the legal and informal migrants,” Isaacs noted. “There is a danger for everybody that wants to transfer money, especially in countries where there isn't a well-developed financial system, if a legal migrant transfers money, they have some sort of protection, but an informal migrant has none, and the country on the receiving end also needs information for its use".

The panel later opened to questions from the audience. One, in particular, addressed the role of women within migration and remittances. 
"Women are great factors of stability due to their remittances, as a majority of international migrants that send money back to their communities in developing countries are women," said Karima Moual, the moderator of the panel.
The panel wrapped up with an interesting view on remittances  mentioned by Adolfo Brizzi is that it might be a way to halt migration, after all, who really wants to leave their home, their country when they are able to live and work there.

Over the last ten years, IFAD has given rural people and communities more options to invest their money and create opportunities for business development and employment in approximately 40 developing countries by piloting over 50 programmes. Learn more about our work with remittances here.

Watch IFAD's Rome to Home video to learn more about migrant remittances.

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