Working paper abstract

#2011-038

The Development of Diaspora Engagement Policies in Burundi and Rwanda

Sonja Fransen & Melissa Siegel

Many countries are currently exploring their diaspora's potential to contribute to local development processes. These countries face numerous challenges in effectively engaging their diasporas such as a lack of experience and resources. Conflict-affected countries, however, face legacies from the past that might challenge diaspora engagement processes. They often also struggle with security issues in the post-conflict phase in addition to these challenges. This chapter compares the diaspora engagement initiatives of two neighbouring countries in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa: Rwanda and Burundi. Both countries recognize the potential of their diasporas, but they are at different stages of diaspora policy development. Results show that Rwanda actively addresses the challenges in reaching out to their diaspora by focusing on diasporic unity and communication between diaspora groups and the Rwanda government. Rwanda has also embedded its Diaspora Policy in its long-term development plan. A lack of data however exists on the effectiveness of these efforts. In contrast, Burundi still needs to create the diasporic institutional environment for its diaspora engagement and diaspora engagement policies. A high level of cooperation should be present between ministries, international organizations and the diaspora to create effective policies. For diaspora engagement initiatives to succeed in conflict-affected societies such as Burundi and Rwanda, however, the most important condition is that the countries' security situations become increasingly stable in the near future.

Keywords: Burundi, Rwanda, Diapora, Diaspora Engagement, Migration and Development