[EPISODE 7] Communities for Shared Development as a Response to the New Features of the Territory and the Diasporas
By Jacques OULD AOUDIA*
What are we going to discuss? International migration, diasporas, development, migrants’ territories of origin, host countries…and links that migrants forge each day involving all these elements. We will discuss these issues in 8 posts. Please feel free to comment, criticize, make suggestions, question, agree, or disagree. This is a space to make your voice heard.
The association Migrations & Développement (M&D) is currently implementing the project for the creation of Communities for Shared Development, based on its practice of mobilizing migrants for the development of territories of origin over almost 30 years in the southern central region of Morocco.
At the initiative of Aouatif El Fakir, who developed this concept of Communities for Shared Development from her research on the interactive learning spaces of the Innovation Communities, M&D combines a conceptual approach with a concrete construct in the field. The original ideas will probably need to be modified over time, but the road map exists.
Definition. At this stage, we define a Community for Shared Development (CSD) as a transnational space for sharing resources (ideas, information, skills, projects, shared and participatory financing, financial investment opportunities). The space is not hierarchical but local actors from the home country play a leading role. It is an interactive learning space, a coordination tool, based on the values of exchanging and sharing. A space anchored in a territory and open to the diaspora.
The goal of the CSD is to promote transfers conducive to social, cultural and economic development between territories and diasporas.
The space is anchored in the territory by the initiatives of local actors mobilizing migrants and their children from the territory. It is they who are most familiar with some of these migrants. It is they who closely identify the territory’s needs (skills, financing) and opportunities (financial investments, land use, social projects). In exchange, they can provide the young generations whose parents were migrants with spaces for exchange projects (work exchanges, reciprocal visits, cultural meetings) and thus meet the needs of the diaspora.
What should be the scale? The difficulties faced by all South countries when implementing policies to mobilize diasporas show that the national scale is too broad to encompass all the diasporas (Morocco’s diaspora comprises about 4.5 million people scattered in more than 130 countries). The commune of origin is certainly too small to sustain a Community for Shared Development on its own. We can imagine that the best scale would be in between the two. Ultimately, it is the actors who will define the geographical base of the territories concerned in order to create a CSD.
Openness is reflected in the fact that the CSD covers the entire diaspora, inside and outside the country. It is aimed at associations of migrants but also at individuals, in a multitude of forms (shared or economic) which Community participants will themselves define. It is also open to the “diaspora of the heart”, consisting of those who feel part of a territory even though they are not from the territory. This diaspora of the heart expands the concept of international solidarity to solidarity of proximity, joining in projects with migrants with whom one shares space in the host country and supporting them in the home country.
IT support. The Community for Shared Development (CSD) is supported by an IT platform on the Internet. This is a virtual place for interaction and learning by providers of resources and territory development projects, reflecting new practices here and there.
How does the Community for Shared Development work? It is organized by a Community Manager, who basically mobilizes the diaspora in virtual space via the social networks. This Community Manager works closely with a Territory Manager, who organizes the physical interface between the local actors, the projects and the Platform.
The goal of the CSD is to sponsor numerous meetings, specific activities and learning spaces in order to co-design and co-construct innovations, with a view to developing specific projects.
The association Migrations & Développement is currently responding to requests from local actors in the Atlas and Anti-Atlas regions of Morocco in order to create a Community of Shared Development anchored in this vast region, which produced the first and the largest contingents of internal and international Moroccan migrants A study is under way to analyze the demand in territories and the expectations of the various components of the diaspora. This study will produce specifications for the developer who will build the platform geared to the needs of the CSD.